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!!
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
WARNING ⚠️ Some images in this post may be distressing to some. They depict The realities of war. Viewer discretion is advised.
I became a photographer to tell stories. Some beautiful & some sad. As a story teller I want you to feel emotion when you see my photos. I want to share the beautiful side of life but that’s too easy & everyone is doing it. Fact is life is pain. We all experience tragedy & I think it’s just as important to show that side of life. Few things are as tragic as war. I wanted to do a concept in honor of fallen soldiers but I don’t sugar coat things. War is hell and I hope we conveyed that here.
I flew to Texas to shoot this with my brothers and I am extremely honored they agreed to be a part of this and I am forever grateful for their many years of service and dedication to make an impact.
If you or someone you know is experiencing PTSD call 1-800-273-8255 then press 1.
Professionally trained clinical staff can help with substance abuse treatment, marital counseling, treatment for depression and PTSD. Run by the VA. Since 2007. Over 18,000 life-saving interventions. Answered 500,000 calls.
Vets: Ryan O & Brendan D. | Midland Texas | Shot on my SonyA6000 | Smoke from my good friends at Oregon Airsoft Arena
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.
Oh boy.... Wedding photography. My style of wedding photography is more like street photography in that my focus is candid moments NOT posed moments. The thing I hate about traditional wedding photography is all the fake posing that goes into it. I mean, as much as I’d love to stand around for hours lining people up, ordering them around and taking photographs of every combination of family member & guest, I’d rather focus on all the small truly meaningful moments that seem to go unnoticed. To me those moments are what matter.
Things happen at a Wedding, things that make your wedding yours, unique to you, and if Your photographer is busy ordering people around They’re going to miss those things. Your feet will be tired from standing and your face will hurt from fake smiling so much and you’ll have missed those things too. It’d be like those things never happened and all you’ve really got to look back at are groups of people, annoyed people, with forced smiles.
Uniqueness doesn't have a template, it doesn't have a formula and it certainly can’t be pigeon holed.
If a photographer comes to your wedding with any idea about how it should be, should look or should not look, then that’s not your wedding, or at least it’s not how your wedding should be documented.
Breathtaking locations, emotion and gesture and dancing and wine and door knobs and fancy lights and funny faces and shoes should all be treated the same.
Those things are yours on your day, and it all means something to you.
I don't offer packages and there is no set amount of time that I’ll be there. I can’t tell you exactly how many photographs you’ll get, but I can tell you that you’ll get all the moments that matter. They're yours, I make them for you. If you or someone you know is looking for a non traditional wedding photographer contact me HERE
Author Lance A Reis
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