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Photography Tips

Con Advisor: Photography Tips

Greetings fellow con goers. I hope everyone is calmed from the craziness of E3 because this week, I’m talking about something a few people have been asking about. This of course is taking photos and getting your photo taken. Let me remind you that I’m not trying to make you into a professional photographer with this article. This is intended for people to know how to properly approach cosplayers as well as be approached by a photographer. If you’d like some personal tips on photography, I might be able to refer you to someone else. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s begin:

Its quite easy during a con to get overwhelmed with the sheer amount of people in awesome costumes that you want to get a picture of all of them (That’s how I was when at my first con). It’s probably one of the most flattering things that can happen to a cosplayer…and they’ll like you even more if you recognize their costume. Of course, some people tend to be a bit reluctant to take pictures. You don’t have to be afraid (at least most of the time). Cosplayers don’t bite, and they’ll love to let you take a picture of them…well most of the time. That being said, here are a few pointers when taking photos of cosplayers.

  • Don’t be afraid to approach the cosplayer. 9 times out of 10 they love having their picture taken, and it makes them feel good that they you recognize their costume. So, just relax.
  • That being said, when trying to get their attention, walk up to they and say something along the lines of, “Excuse me *insert character here*, can I get your picture?” If you aren’t sure who they are, ask them “Are you *insert character here*?” If you accidentally get their character wrong, apologize and give them a compliment on their costume anyways.
  • If you’re trying to get their attention, try to avoid tapping them on the shoulder or any other physical touch. I know it gets very crowded in dealer rooms and things like that, but, some people do not like to be touched at all. Plus, if you do touch them you might mess up their costume…which will make someone even more upset.
  • Have your camera ready to take the picture. One of the worst thing that can happen is while you’re trying to get your camera out, something happens to it and then the person has to go. Better to just nip that in the bud at that moment and have it ready right then and there.
  • In the event that someone doesn’t want a picture taken of them, just say ok. Don’t bash them or anything like that.
  • Try to take the picture off to the side. Don’t take up the middle of the dealer hall/hotel. That’s a fire hazard and it also causes traffic. Yes, I know it’s hard to do, but just try to be considerate of others.
  • Be mindful of what the cosplayer is doing when you want the picture. I’ve had times where people have asked to take my picture while I was in the middle of a cross walk, or while I was eating lunch. I’ve never had this happen, but I’m sure there have been people who ask people for photos while they’re in the bathroom. Regardless, if you see the cosplayer busy doing something like eating, using the bathroom, or anything along that, wait until their done and ask them.
  • Don’t be a perv doing things like intentionally taking pictures of a girl’s up skirt or down their shirt (unless they want you to…but even then). Trust me; if they get on the internet and it gets back to you, it’s going to be bad Juju.
  • If you’d like for them to do something character specific, ask them first. Sometimes the cosplayer might not know what you’re talking about. Also, DO NOT make them do anything that they aren’t comfortable with.
  • If you’re going to take a picture with the cosplayer, watch where your hands are. Taking a picture is not a free pass to cop a feel or kiss them or anything like that. I don’t care if it’s your favorite character, just don’t do it.
  • When in doubt, ask. Don’t just randomly come up to a cosplayer and take a picture. Chances are, if you just take a picture like that, they’ll be taken by surprise, and you might make the cosplayer really upset. Is it really such a hard thing to go up to them and say, “Can I get a picture of you?”

Now that I’ve gone over some tips for people taking pictures, there are a few things that we as cosplayers can do to help out photographers:

  • It’s ok if you just want to smile in the picture, but if you want to add some flair to your photo try having a few poses that your character might do. If your character doesn’t have any poses from the anime/game try to get creative and put yourself in their shoes.
  • Don’t feel obligated to take a photo. If someone is making you uncomfortable, you have the right to say no. (I need to be careful, because pretty soon I’m going to start sounding like Sonic).
  • If you don’t want someone to take a picture of you, just politely say no…don’t be a jerk. Not all photographers are bad.
  • If someone is harassing you in regards to taking a photo, talk to security.

So, once again, I’d like to take this moment and talk about something that happens very often while taking photographs.


Photobombing is when a person who is not intended to be in the picture ends up being in the picture. This is something that I have done unintentionally in the past (and I’m even guilty of doing it intentionally…sorry to those people who have been photobombed by me) and it got me thinking; Do other people in the cosplay community share the same thoughts on photobombing as I do?

I reached out to the community about this, and this is what has been said:
It is annoying of friends/strangers if you’re trying to get certain pics. There are times it can be funny though but usually I prefer them not to.
~Steve STVO Universe

Nearly always annoying. EXCEPT when relevant to the cosplay being photographed or when good friends who don’t take it too far or do it too regularly. ~Laura V …And Sewing Is Half the Battle

Friends doing it every once in awhile can be funny, but random strangers doing it is annoying. ~ Casual Cosplayer

and from a photographer’s point of view:

They aren’t my favorite.  It can be a problem, particularly in crowded areas and most of the time I will wait for the photo bomber to leave and take another. ~ Jess – Photographer, Geek Girl Chicago

So as you guys can see that there’s a time and a place for photobombing. I’ve had my share of photobombing, from 2 people (one at a time) interfering with me taking a photo of Joe from Digimon, to a random guy coming up and photobombing my friend while I’m trying to get a picture of her Chell cosplay (that one was quickly deleted). They were mildly annoying (the first one making me very mad because I had to take the picture 3 times total!)

My advice for this would be, unless you really know the people cosplaying or taking the picture, I would really think twice about doing it. Depending on who you end up photobombing, it could cause a major problem with them. It all comes down to common courtesy. Don’t do it to someone if you don’t want them to do it to you. In the event of someone photobombing a picture, kindly just ask them to get out of the picture. If they don’t, be firm with them and say it again. If they’re still bugging you, move someplace else and take the picture. By that time I’m sure they won’t bug you, but in that event, go to security.

In conclusion, if you’re a photographer and want to get a picture of someone, don’t be afraid. It’ll really make their day. Just be sure that you use good judgment and make sure not to offend the cosplayer.  And on the flipside to cosplayers, let’s try to be more considerate of photographers. It does take a lot for some people to come up to you and ask for a picture.

Next week’s topic will be: Going out of state to a con: How to prepare for it, and even some on the road tips. Be sure to tune in.

Before I end this week, I wanted to take this moment to thank a few people for giving me their input on this week’s article: Paul, Laura H, Megan, Kevin, Ruby, Steve, Anya and Laura V.

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