If you're a cosplayer, then you know that the key to having fun at conventions is to have a group of friends with whom to share the experience. However, if you want to take those photos from your average convention photo shoot and elevate them into something truly memorable, then it's time to start thinking about how best to capture the magic of your costume.
If you want to improve your cosplay photography, but don't know where to begin, these tips will help get you started on the right path.
One of the best ways to improve your cosplay photography is to learn from others.
If you don’t have a lot of experience with photography, or even if you do, it can be intimidating when taking photos in public. You might feel like other people are watching and judging every move that you make! But don’t worry—they probably aren’t. Most people are too busy minding their own business to pay much attention to what's going on behind them anyway!
If this doesn't ease your nerves, try asking someone who knows how to use a camera for help with lighting and shutter speed settings. They might even offer some constructive criticism on how they would change some details of your costume so that they look more natural in pictures than they do in real life (for example: adding wrinkles around an eye patch). Ask questions if needed; everyone loves sharing knowledge!
Book a Modeling Session with a Pro Photographer
If you are serious about taking your cosplay photos to the next level, I highly recommend booking a professional photographer for a photo shoot. Not only will this help you pose better, but it will also give them a chance to determine what kind of lighting and backdrop is best for each costume. A professional photographer will also know how to use their camera and lens so that you can look your best in different types of lighting conditions. For example, if you're wearing black clothing against a white background without any shadows or highlights (like sunlight), then it'll be hard for the camera sensor in front of your eye not to focus on everything else around you instead of just focusing on yourself like it should be doing.
Understand Your Light
Understanding your light is an important part of taking good cosplay photos. You may not have any control over the lighting in a public place, but you can always make sure to bring the right equipment with you. Here are some tips for using different types of lights to your advantage:
- Use the sun to your advantage. The best time of day to shoot outside is when there’s plenty of natural light—and this means no harsh shadows or squinty-eyed photos! If it’s too bright out and you want more dramatic lighting effects, use a reflector (like an aluminum foil reflector) or diffuser (like a softbox) between yourself and subject to reflect that golden glow back onto them.
- Use flash as little as possible. A flash can add extra drama by highlighting details on costumes that might otherwise go unnoticed, but if used too much it will wash out colors and create unwanted shadows on faces or body parts (especially noses). Try not to use flashes unless absolutely necessary; if so, bounce off ceilings or walls instead of directly off subjects' skin tones themselves!
Scout the Location
You want to find a location that is unique and interesting, has good light, a good background, and will be free of people. Once you have your location picked out it’s time to scout it out. What do I mean by scouting? This includes getting a feel for the place before taking any photos. See what angles work best and how much space you will need for your costume(s). You may even want to take some test shots there as well so you can see if there are any issues with lighting or backgrounds before shooting in full force.
Go for the Eyes
The eyes are the windows to the soul, and they're also the most important part of a portrait. Think about it: when you look at someone's photos, what do you see first? Their face! But as soon as you start looking at their eyes, they become instantly more relatable. Eyes can tell so much about a person—their mood and personality—and are therefore often used as focal points in portraits.
The eyes are usually the most expressive part of your face; they're capable of conveying all kinds of emotions without saying a word! When posing for photos with your cosplay friends or strangers who ask for pictures (which is always nice), try to make eye contact with them so that they can really see who you are behind your costume. If not making eye contact feels too awkward for some reason (maybe because someone is taking photos from behind), then just smile big instead! Smiling will help create an inviting atmosphere that encourages people around you to do likewise.
Get Close with a Wide Angle Lens
Wide angle lenses are great for cosplay photography. This is because they allow you to get closer to your subject, and also give you more information in the background of your photo.
If you're taking a group shot, a wide-angle lens will allow you to include all of your friends in the frame, while still keeping them at a reasonable distance from each other. If there's something interesting happening behind them (like an epic cosplay), then this could be very useful as well!
Use a Neutral Density Filter for Long Exposures
A neutral density filter is a piece of glass or plastic that you attach to your lens and use as a shutter. When used correctly, it will allow you to take long exposures without overexposing the shot. This can be especially helpful when photographing cosplayers who are wearing very bright costumes or standing in front of a very light background.
Here's how to use one:
- Purchase an ND filter for your camera body if it doesn't come with one by default (there are many options available online). Avoid buying cheap ones -- you'll want one that is reliable and durable if possible!
- Attach the ND filter onto your lens using its screw mount; make sure both ends are secure before proceeding further steps below.
Be Prepared and Flexible
Great cosplayers know that photos can be difficult to get right. They're also aware of the fact that no matter how much planning you do ahead of time, there will likely be many things going wrong during your photo shoot. For example:
- You'll drop your props on the ground at some point and look like an idiot as you pick them up again.
- Your friend might not show up for their scheduled time slot, leaving you with a gap in your schedule and possibly some awkwardness in front of strangers who are waiting patiently for their turn to take photos with you.
- Someone will spill something on their costume or make a face at just the wrong moment and ruin all of your hard work!
Shoot in RAW
RAW files are the digital equivalent of film and are often referred to as an uncompressed format. They contain no compression, meaning that they can be edited without losing quality. This makes them ideal for use in the studio or under controlled conditions, but RAW files are not ready to be printed or shared on social media. RAW files can be significantly larger than JPG files (which have been compressed), so storing them takes up more space on your computer’s memory card or hard drive. Because RAW images require additional post-processing work, they may not be compatible with all software packages (such as Photoshop).
Use Aperture Priority Mode
If you're a beginner, aperture priority mode will be your best friend. In this mode, the camera automatically sets the shutter speed based on what you choose for your aperture setting. Aperture is a measurement of how large the opening in your lens will be when a photo is taken. It can range from very small to very large and affects how much light makes it into your camera when you snap a shot:
- If you have a very small aperture (like f/22), then less light will enter into the camera because there's not much room for it to pass through. This means that more time needs to pass between each shot so that enough light has filled up all of its sensors; otherwise, your images might come out too dark or blurry due to lack of exposure time (which we'll discuss later).
So, if you're looking to improve your cosplay photography, start by following these tips. You can use them for any kind of cosplay shoot (cityscape, self-portraits or group shots), but many of them are especially helpful when you're trying to photograph yourself in costume. Good luck!