Sunday, 19 May 2013

Guest Post: How to Find Free Photographers to Improve Your Cosplay Pictures

Hi there everyone! Getting back into blogging slowly after a little gap (more on that later) with a rather good guest post on a topic that is certainly of use to me, and hopefully to you whether you cosplay or not.

How to improve the quality of your photographs by working with photographers. I am definitely hoping to use some of these tips at a later date! Anyone heading to MCM Expo next week, this is something for you to think about too - Enjoy!


How to Find Free Photographers to Improve Your Cosplay Pictures

As a cosplayer there are few more satisfying moments than seeing a quality picture of yourself in a finished costume, especially if it's then shared and admired by other cosplayers. This could be via your own Facebook page, on a picture sharing website like Deviant Art, Flickr or Reddit, featured in a blog article or published in a magazine. Sadly many cosplayers are content with a low quality camera phone picture or a simple capture from a compact camera when we could get a lot better.
The general consensus is that having pictures taken of you by an experienced photographer or even someone with a good level of photography experience would be expensive, but this isn't always the case.
My aim here is to show you a number of options that you might consider for getting high quality pictures of yourself for a very small amount of money or even for free.

About Me
I own and run the Otleyrun Fancy Dress website and have a keen interest in photography.
As an amateur photographer I've taken pictures of a number of cosplayers, all of which I did for free. It was a great way to build up some experience and try out new ideas that I wouldn't usually do during a paid shoot. Free shoots allow both cosplayers and photographers to get a little more creative. Sometimes the results are fantastic, while on some occasions they aren't.
Here are a few examples of pictures I've taken during free photoshoots:

Before jumping into a shoot with a stranger it's important to consider your safety above all else. Please don't randomly contact a person and visit them in a private place. I'll cover this and a few other considerations at the end of this piece.
Here are a number of sources that, as a photographer, I would recommend you check out to find people to take quality pictures of you in cosplay.

Model Mayhem
If you've never visited ModelMayhem I highly recommend signing up for a free account and browse the talent on offer.
You can customise your searches to show only local photographers, which is really handy. Send out a few messages to any that offer TF (time for) work and see what you can negotiate.
It's also worth posting a casting call for photographers, which is free and announces that you're looking for local people to work with. That way interested individuals can come to you. Set the duration of the casting call to the maximum (I think it's a year) so that the listing will be active for a long time and new members have a chance to contact you. Newer members to the site are usually amateurs (most of the pro's were signed up years ago) so they're an important group to target.
Most photographers list who they've worked with previously on their profiles. Don't be shy, message the models and ask them about their experience with the photographer. This can weed out a few creeps and help you identify the decent people.

Finally please ensure that your profile is kept up to date, is spell checked for errors (pet peeve of mine) and clearly states what you're looking for. You'll likely get messages from people who don't take the time to read your profile but a well written and detailed profile will attract some quality applicants.

Cosplay Websites -
If you don't have an account on here shame on you! It's a must have for cosplayers but there are many others like it. It's free to sign up and get going straight away.

This is a great site for networking with other cosplayers and might just lead you in the right direction of a few photographers as well. Ask around the local scene or post on your profile that you're looking to work with local talent. Both have worked for me in the past and they should work well going forward for you too.

Gumtree or Craigslist
These sites can yield very mixed results, but they're a free resource that we can all take advantage of. You can either answer model or cosplayer request posts or post one of your own.
I always ask applicants from free ad sites for a link to a profile on a more recognised site such as or Model Mayhem as most genuine cosplayers will have a profile on one or both. This helps to prove that you're genuine.

Photo Sharing Websites: Deviant Art, Flicker and Reddit
I mentioned near the start of this piece that photo sharing websites are a great way to gain exposure and showcase your cosplay. They're also a great way to network with other cosplayers and photographers. You could send a polite message to a local photographer asking if they're open to free work or ask another cosplayer for a recommendation.

Conventions and Events - collect business cards or talk with photographers who approach you
If someone with a camera asks to take your picture at a convention you should always ask them where the pictures will be published (if at all). If they mention that they're a photographer with a blog or picture sharing account jot down the web address or ask for a card. Get chatting with them as it might just open doors to opportunities in the future.

Facebook Groups
Many cosplay groups exist, such as the UK Cosplay group, which bring both cosplayers and photographers together. Some groups set up photography events where all members are invited to attend and get shots done by multiple photographers. It's a great way to build up a diverse collection of shots from people with a range of experience. Some might also do some post production work on your pictures that will really make them stand out, for better or worse.

Important Considerations
If you're going to meet up with a photographer for the first time it's vitally important that you consider a few things before going ahead with it. Here are a tips to help identify the best people to contact:
  • ·       Check for feedback from other people. If you find that the feedback is more negative than positive find someone else.
  • ·       Make sure that the final picture edits will be made available to you for free and get a time frame for when this will be done.
  • ·       Ensure that the final edits won't be used for commercial gain by the photographer unless you're compensated.
  • ·       Only meet in a public place to shoot or take someone with you. If you're adamant about going alone make sure you tell a few people where you're going.
  • ·       Offer to meet the person for a tea or coffee at a local cafe before shooting with them so that you have time to gauge how genuine they are.

I wish you all the best of luck with your current and future cosplay projects and hope that this article has provided you with a few ideas. If you do end up getting some pictures taken by a local photographer please share a link to the final edits so that we can all see the results.

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