Comic Con is a great place to see and take photos of some of your favorite super heroes and villains. It's chalk full of great photo opportunities. Search Comic Con on google and you will find thousands of photos of the most amazing costumes you've ever seen. You will also find thousands of very poorly executed photos. My goal with this article is to make sure you don't fall into that category. Elevate your game at the next Con with these 8 tips. If you like the photos below make sure and check out more of my work on Instagram HERE
Tip 1. Always Ask for Permission
This is the biggest mistake photographers make at conventions. If you’re shooting at a convention or any other event where there are cosplayers, it’s always best to ask for the cosplayers permission before taking pictures of them. Your shots are guaranteed to be better if your model is fully aware of your camera pointed at them. They’ll be much more willing to strike different poses and maybe even allow you to direct the shot so you can have more control over the final image. The cosplayers I know hate it when someone gets a candid photo of them when they weren't ready. They don't want photos on the internet shoving food in their face while on a break half dressed and not in character. So do them and yourself a favor and ask for permission before you take their photo.
Tip 2. Cosplay is Not Consent
Okay this tip wont really help you take better photos but it needs to be said. Let's face it many costumes for female leads in Hollywood are revealing so you are bound to see many ladies of all ages in revealing outfits. This in no way gives you permission to touch them. Maybe just assume every cosplayer you meet doesn't want to be touched in any shape or form. That goes for males and females. If you need to touch the cosplayer to help with posing always ask first but usually this can be done verbally or visually. Having your photo taken with a cosplayer still isn't an excuse to touch them. Odds are you don't know this person so just go the Keanu Reeves route and hover a hand behind them or to the side.
Tip 3. Allow them to Get Ready before you take the photo.
Look, I get it, Comic Con is very exciting. As a photographer you want to take as many photos of your favorite characters as you can. However, just like photography in general, it helps to take the time to compose your shot and wait until your subject is ready before taking the photo. Allow them a few seconds to put on their masks, take off their hoodie, fix their costumes, touch up their makeup, and get into character for your shot. This also shows respect for the craft and for their hard work in putting their costumes together. They will appreciate it.
Tip 4. Create a Scene for the Character.
When you can, choose a background that complements your character. You probably wont have much time or freedom to move your subject around, but there are always better options than capturing them exactly where and how you found them. Unless you're really good at composites try to avoid shooting in the convention center at all costs. Your best option will always be to give the cosplayer your card and plan a shoot at a future date at a studio or on location.
If that's not an option familiarize yourself with your subject, and then quickly think of how you can make them connect with the available space. You should have done your research before hand and should know the area around the convention center well before you go. For example, if you’re shooting a Spider-Man cosplayer as seen above, you can simply ask them to pose like they are climbing the nearest wall out side or pose like they just landed from a high vantage point. In this case we used a dumpster in the alley behind the convention center. I dig the industrial urban feel of this photo.
Tip 5. Use Natural Lighting when you can.
For the love of god Avoid using your camera’s pop-up flash at all costs and stick to natural lighting. If shooting inside during the day shoot near doorways or windows that allow sunlight in to make your subjects look as natural as possible. For the Joker photo above we went outside the Convention center at sunset and shot in the alley. As you can see the natural light from above and the light from the building lit the subject perfectly. If it was dark I would have him stand in the door way and just use the available light from the building above the door for a more dramatic photo. Your subject doesn't always need to be lit perfectly. There is no need to bring anything more than one camera and lens to get banger photos at Con.
Tip 6. Shoot from Different Angles
Always experiment with different orientations and angles. I hate it when photographers only shoot straight on. Don’t be afraid to shoot up from below, especially for villains and other mysterious characters. This type of shot will work well for a character like the Darth Maul, as this perspective can highlight the makeup and the distorted angle will give viewers an unsettling feeling that matches his presence on screen. Shoot straight on, shoot downward, shoot from below, shoot close up, shoot from far away. Change it up and see what works.
Tip 7. Communication is key.
Don’t just snap away. Take time to communicate with your model and ask them about how they want their photos to be interpreted and shot. Depending on your skills and experience, this can open you up to more options that you previously may not have thought of. You can also help the cosplayer achieve their goals and attract their target viewers. Communication goes a long way. If you think a pose could be better with a minor adjustment make sure to speak up. The model can't see themselves.
Tip 8. Posing, Use Pinterest.
Now most of the time the cosplayer will know the popular poses of the character they are portraying but if they don't you should have the pinterest App. on your phone ready to go. Just type in the characters name and Boom! Tons of great ideas for posing. I can't stress this one enough.
and Don't forget!!
Lance is a well known published Portland based Portrait photographer.