The 10 best websites for Cosplay Costumes & Props.
Hey guys and gals! As you know I photograph many different things but I'm most well known for my cinematic cosplay photography. I'm constantly asked where do I or my clients get their costumes and props. So I thought I would put together this list of the 10 best places to buy cosplay costumes and props for all ages year round.
I really hate to say this but the most reliable websites for costumes and props are the huge retailers. Without question They have the biggest selections and best prices because of the massive volume they do. Just keep in mind Inexpensive costumes are made cheaply in mass numbers, regardless of whether the site brands itself as a Halloween store, a costume store, or a Cosplay store. Fact is better made costumes cost more money. Customized costumes and props made by costumers who sell their work through sites like Etsy, ebay, and Instagram are the highest quality, the most expensive, and you sure as F aint getting it in three days.
The Cosplayers I know understandably want costumes that are more durable because they plan to wear them to multiple events, where Halloween partiers are happy with something they will only wear once, not to say I haven't seen people spend nearly an entire year to create Halloween costumes to compete in Costume contest. Halloween retailers like Spirit Halloween tend to cater to cheaper costumes and Cosplay retailers tend towards more obscure characters and better costumes but that's not to say I haven't seen total crap for premium prices because they do much smaller volume of sales than the giants like Amazon. But the plus side of big retailers is they often offer cheap shipping or free shipping and returns or exchanges are often easy.
7 key elements to a viral Cosplay photo
In my opinion Etsy is probably the best place to go as far as getting that hand-crafted look for your cosplay costume. There are a ton of very talented prop makers and costume designers on the site. See: Cosplay Etsy below. You could piece together a very good and convincing cosplay costume just from Etsy vendors but you will pay premium dollars for this and you may have to wait months to receive your final costume or props but in my opinion it's worth it because quality is king in my book.
Last thing I want you to keep in mind when shopping online for costumes is not to be shy about buying from over seas. Some of the sites I've listed below are in China and the UK. They are still a great option but just keep in mind most importantly a size 10 in the US may be different than a size 10 in China or the UK. So pay close attention to sizing charts when ordering and be prepared to wait a little longer for shipping. Also don't forget to read reviews! I've listed my top 10 sites for costumes and props below with the most obvious such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy last. 2 of the 10 are local to Portland Oregon. Just click the image and it will take you to the website. Hope this article helps you on your next adventure into cosplay. Let me know in the comments below and connect with me on Instagram HERE
6. Costume Avenue - Beaverton
7. Avant Garden Vintage - Portland
Bonus! Mill End is the best option for custom fabrics in Portland. DIY
7 Tips for a viral Cosplay photo.
I wanted to put together a short list of what I find to be the most important elements in making a viral photo. This might surprise you but it's not an expensive camera, nor is it bulky expensive lighting equipment. Do you need access to a studio or years of experience with Photoshop? Nope. The 7 elements below are all you need for a viral photo. However going viral is never guaranteed, but if you hit all these points and a little bit of luck your odds will go WAY up. As seen below I've had multiple photo shoots go viral and my work has been featured on both local and international news outlets more than once. If you like what you see below find more of my work on Instagram HERE
I'm a huge advocate of shooting on location rather than doing composites. (cutting out the background and replacing it with something else in Photoshop) The more you can get in camera the less work you have to do in post. Just my personal preference. This will require location scouting. My favorite tool for this is hashtags on Instagram or searching by location. Choosing a location that fits the theme is crucial. As an example above I knew I'd be shooting a fairy theme so I knew a forest made more traditional sense than urban. So when location scouting for the perfect forest scene I found a park close by that had a huge mushroom big enough to walk inside. I knew this would save me a ton of Photoshop and with the right perspective would make my model seem smaller which is what you want for a fairy theme. Model: @Lexylovestruck
Obviously when shooting Cosplay the outfit will be the biggest factor in making a banger photo. When searching for cosplayers to collaborate with I always look for screen accurate costumes. You probably don't have the money to go buy an outfit for thousands of dollars for the right model to wear. So search Instagram & local cosplay groups on Facebook to find the perfect cosplayers in your area that already have the outfits. They put in a lot of money and time to make beautiful costumes for Comic-con. They just need YOU to help bring that costume to life. Model: @hoptownspidey
When it comes to cosplay, especially horror cosplay nothing can ruin a good photo faster than bad makeup. If you don't use a professional makeup artist especially when using prosthetics a terrifying horror cosplay can turn cheesy as hell real quick. The difference between Hollywood quality horror and a family friendly haunted house is the makeup so choose a cosplayer who is a skilled MUA or find a local SFX MUA to team up with. My MUA for the photo above is the very talented @taelorfx Model: @starbar_1
Props are a key element to any great cosplay. Usually the cosplayer will have props they've made to go with their costume but in the case they haven't you can search Instagram for a prop maker and have one made. That's what I did for the axe and helmet seen above. I was lucky enough to find a very talented local prop maker @dragonbornjedi and as you can see above if you took away the axe and helmet the photo wouldn't be as compelling. Makeup by @taelorfx Model: @ThePDXViking
If you want a photo to go viral cosplay or not there needs to be a compelling story. The story doesn't need to be obvious but there needs to be enough emotion and information in the photo for the viewer to make up their own story. In the photo above I have a beautiful mermaid who's conveying so much emotion in her face, that alone makes the viewer ask why. Why is she so sad? Now add some wind, rain, sparks, and a pirate ship in the distance and you've got a story. What's the story? That's up to the viewer. Whether it's sadness, happiness, or straight up horror make sure your viewer feels something. Model: @LittyLeRouge
6. Most importantly: Casting!
This is the most underrated key to a successful cosplay photo. If I'm searching for a model for a particular character I put out a casting call on social media and try to find a person that looks most like the character. When I wanted to recreate the Pulp Fiction movie poster I knew I wanted someone with the same build and facial structure as Uma Thurman. So look for certain characteristics in the character you'd like to shoot and find someone who matches for the best success. Model: @1wonderbug
7. Engage with your Audience
No matter how good the photo is you can't just post it and hope for the best. You need to actively engage with your audience. It's as simple as thanking everyone who comments and or shares your post. Not only does this show appreciation to your fans but also keeps your post at the top of the feed. I see photographers with smaller followings fail miserably at this and they wonder why they don't see engagement or growth. Not engaging with your fans shows them you only care about yourself. TAKE THE TIME to show them you appreciate them!
Clark County ScareGrounds was nice enough to invite me to their haunted house in Ridgefield Washington to take some promo photos of Beetlejuice & Lydia. As a huge Tim Burton fan I couldn’t resist. Trevor does the best Beetlejuice cosplay I’ve ever seen and in person his impersonation is even better. Make sure to see him live in preson every weekend in October.
Trevor is a man of many faces. I’ve photographed him as Beetlejuice, Freddy Krueger, and Michael Myers. All of which you can find on my Instagram.
If you enjoy this set make sure to check out my Instagram & facebook where I’m posting 31 days of Halloween Cosplay photos.
Models: Sam York & Trevor Heineman-Overton /// Shot on my SonyA7iii at the one and only Clark County ScareGrounds. The ScareGrounds is conveniently located at the Clark County Event Center, 17402 NE Delfel Rd, Ridgefield, WA 98642. Parking is FREE!
More info: Facebook | Instagram
Horror Cosplay - Nightmare on Elm Street
Huge thanks to my Models: @goblin_teeth & @alyxandriamodel for helping me bring Freddy to life. Smoke purchased from: @oregonairsoftarena by @smokegrenades All shot on my SonyA6000 in Portland Oregon. See more concepts like this one on my Instagram below.
Horror Cosplay - Halloween
Huge thanks to my Models: @andrewgcalleri & @missmerandalynn & @goblin_teeth for helping me bring this Halloween concept to life. It was a blast! And yes we did sacrifice a guitar for this concept. Also the face on the pumpkin wasn't planned but I find it hilarious :) No one was hurt in the making of this series. All shot on my SonyA6000 in Portland Oregon. See more concepts like this one on my Instagram below.
Author Lance A Reis
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