1. Stay safe and have a chaperone
It is so easy to get swept up in the excitement of a con and general feeling of safety in numbers. In my early cosplay days, I was entirely unaware of the dangers and just assumed everyone was safe. You don’t hang out with strangers in secluded places alone in the real word, don’t do it a convention. Even with photographers you have worked with before, always make sure someone knows where you are, when you are meeting them and how long you should be. As much as possible, take a chaperone, although I know this cannot always be done. If you are booking in to work with someone new, take the time to do some research on them. Check their reviews if they have them, if possible reach out to others who have worked with them before and generally try to get an idea of how they work before you get there. Always have a chaperone if you are going to a secluded part of the convention centre, or even more importantly if you are leaving site. Personally, I would advise if they suggest a hotel room for a shoot to always decline, but that is a personal decision. At least take someone with you and make sure someone else knows where you both are. Scary things do happen at comic cons, be aware of yourself.
2. Carry cosplay cards
When it comes to finding your photos after a convention, this can be really hard work. I didn’t think about this in my early days of cosplay, and quickly realised that I was spending all day posing for photos and only seeing a few of them, either because a friend had tagged me or I had the photographers card. It can’t be solely the photographers responsibility to find you, hand out cards with links to your page too. If you both swap, then if one goes missing you still have a chance of getting your photos back.
3. Ensure you have contact details for the photographer
It is a little unwise to hand out your phone number to random strangers, but it’s also a good idea to have a way of contacting them that doesn’t depend on internet. We all know that getting internet inside a convention centre is a miracle, and if you’re running late or have to cancel, it’s just rude to leave someone waiting for you. Make sure you have a way of contacting the photographer to let them know so they’re not standing around for your half hour slot when they could be enjoying their convention. Just be respectful of people’s time.
4. Know your poses for that character
Don’t turn up like an awkward lemon with no idea what you are doing and depend entirely on the photographer to know what to do with you. Although most togs have an idea of how to pose a model and the angles they want, not everyone does and some are not overly comfortable instructing others. At the end of the day, you chose the character and you want good photos back, the responsibility is on you to make sure you get what you want. Do your research, practice some poses and even save some references to your phone if you want. This can be great for making sure you don’t go blank at the shoot, and is very helpful to communicate to the photographers what you want.
5. Communicate with your photographer
Shoots are a collaboration. Give your opinion, share what you would like to get from the shoot and be willing to listen to what the photographer wants too. However, do not be forced to do anything you do not want to. You are always in control of your body and how you are photographed, if you are uncomfortable, say no, ask for help, leave. Whatever you are comfortable doing. Do not feel like you have to do anything, you absolutely do not. As with everything else in life, consent is everything. If you do not like to be touched for posing, say so. You don’t have to feel awkward about it, there are other ways of doing it. If you have discussed some poses in advanced and now don’t feel comfortable doing them, don’t. Plans do not matter, your comfort matters.
1. Ask permission
I can’t even believe I have to say this, but I’ve been to enough conventions to know that I most definitely still need to say it. Ask permission to take anyone’s photo. Although it is a very open environment and most of the people will reply with a “yes, of course!” not every single person there is going to want their photo taken. And some may just not want their photo taken by you. Have respect for people, just like you would anywhere else, and if someone says no, accept it.
2. Have a photography page and cards
Although you may have pre-booked some of the shoots, there will always be people you see on the day that you really want to photograph. It is always worth having business cards with a link to the page where you’ll be posting the photos for all of your subjects. Cosplayers work very hard on their costumes and hugely appreciate receiving photos of their work.
3. Always credit the cosplayer
It is worth always asking if they have a cosplay card as most do now carry them. If they do not, I like to ask if they have a Facebook page, Instragram, Twitter account etc to be credited, or if they do not want to be tagged publicly, then an email address you can send the photos to. It’s worth keeping a note on your phone of who is who, because it can be very difficult weeks after the convention looking through a pile of cosplay cards trying to work out who is who. When it comes to taking their social media, you can either take their username, or I often take a photo of them on my phone, followed by a photo of their instagram page so I can link the two.
4. Make sure they are ready for the shot & comfortable
Don’t take a photo when they are fiddling wig hair out of their mouth, or trying to adjust their top because their bra is showing. Yes I’m mentioning being creepy too, just don’t take closeups of body parts please, it’s gross and creepy and no one will want to work with you any more. Also ensure that if you are posing them that they are comfortable with the pose you are directing them into and the angle it is taken from. Just because someone is wearing a revealing costume, it doesn’t mean they are happy for to take a shot lying on the floor where you can see their underwear, or bending forward so you can see into their corset. Lastly, if you need to touch them to assist their posing, always just ask first if that’s okay, don’t just touch someone, it’s weird. If they say no, respect that and find another way of posing them, such as demonstrating what you want them to do. Pro-tip: if you don’t feel comfortable doing it, maybe you shouldn’t be asking.
5. Do some research
For your pre-booked shoots, do a little research on the character. What kind of setting suits them, what kind of poses would they pull. One of my absolute favourite people to work with is the lovely Eddie from Food And Cosplay (http://foodandcosplay.org/) and he always arrives to a con with reference photos that he would either like to recreate, or use as pose inspiration. I love this because it makes me feel like he understands what we are trying to create, and as someone with zero natural posing ability it helps a ton to have a visual aid to what they want me to do. I would mention though, the responsibility shouldn’t be entirely on you to pose the cosplayers and that they should have some ideas about their character. Not all of us are good at that though and new cosplayers are mostly not prepared for that, so a little pre-planning on your part will make things go smoother.
That’s everything for this week! If you have any other tips to share, please leave them in the comments.