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Cosplay photography (with flash and a fog machine)

edited April 2016 in general photography
Greetings everyone, 

I am still around but have posted/commented very infrequently. Just been busy as can be. We moved to VA and I am now teaching in Loudoun County and really love my job.
Shooting as much as I can and recently (January) discovered Cosplay. I don't dress up but it is a great way to get some photography in! 

If you need models, there are a lot of cosplay groups on facebook and on Meetup.com
I don't have the funds to pay models so this is an incredible opportunity to get all sorts of practice in :)

Figured I would share this since cosplay photography has not been mentioned here.

Here is a screen capture and a link to the rest in case anyone wants a look at more. And yes, the fog machine idea came from readings the Tangents blog:) 

NVN.JPG 151.2K


  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Superb stuff!  (And I love the use of the fog machine.)
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Beautiful images Rudy, well done.

  • Those are great! Really well done.

    The backdrops with the fog machine and such - is this all your setup? I'm curious about the logistics: did you go to Cosplay on a whim, not hired or asked to go by anyone, set up your stuff and go looking for the characters? Probably silly questions to ask, but I'm curious.

    Glad to hear you are so busy. BTW, what do you teach?


  • edited April 2016
    One of the reasons I posted this was because I have always been on the lookout for people to photograph, often with little success. I figured others might be in the same boat!

    One of my students (I teach Science 8 but I can teach Biology and Chemistry from 6-12th grade) was really impressed with the photos I have in my classroom. I also shoot a lot of school events so they all know me as that guy with the camera and black foam thing on his flash :)

    Anyway, she began to tell me about Cosplay and I began to research it (these things help us make connections with students) and found a Meetup.com group near by. Signed up for an event, paid the $5 to keep the group funded and really liked the fact that I can have them do crazy poses.

    The group we have is very active and does monthly mini meet-ups and then large events every three months. I have been to two events and am starting to meet the cosplayers on weekend for 1-on-1 sessions. All this is TFP work and I am OK with that. Looking to build my portfolio since conventions are HUGE and you can make some good money over a weekend. I plan on hitting a few later on this year. The sessions are basically mini sessions that last all day. In 8 hours, you can make $1000-$1500+ and have a ton of fun without all the stress of a wedding or corporate event. Not HUGE money but still...and the people are all great.

    The fog machine was $35 and I bought it via a link from this article: http://neilvn.com/tangents/flash-photography-changing-the-background-color-with-gels/   Same goes for the Light Blaster :)

    The backdrops are all on-location. They do a great job of finding awesome places to shoot.

    Hope that helps!

  • Great, Rudy, thanks for all that. Sounds like a whole lot of fun. Also, thanks for telling me about your day job and your interactions with your students.

    BTW, to a "For-pay Newbie" like me, a grand sounds pretty grand to me! And you are having a blast!

  • Fantastic work! It definitely makes for interesting photographs and it sounds beneficial to you and the group. Congrats! 

  • StephenStephen Member
    edited April 2016
    I've been doing cosplay photography for a while.  I didn't think about talking about it, since it's another form of portrait photography.

    You won't make any money from most cosplayers.  99% of cosplayers are not professional models, so they spend their own money on making the costumes.  Just as we can spend thousands of dollars on camera equipment, some cosplayers can spend that much on materials and labor.

    You're right that it's a good way to get some practice in.  You're getting pleasant, well-lit photos.  Congrats!
  • Thanks for the feedback everyone. 

    Hi Stephen, not sure I agree with that. There are plenty of cosplayers that pay for sessions at cons. All photographers that I know off and advertise book out quickly. It's large community and you need to get your name out there and that always takes time. 
  • StephenStephen Member
    edited April 2016
    Sorry, I should have said "anime cosplayers."  Originally, the word "cosplay" was associated with anime conventions, so I'm still using that word to describe costumers attending anime conventions.

    At a comic or steampunk conventions, I'm sure you can make some money.  At the same time, if you are charging for photos at these conventions, convention management (if they find out) will likely classify you as a vendor, so you'd have to pay the vendor fee or get kicked out.  That is one reason why charging for photography at these conventions is a gray area.    If you estimated $1000-$1500 in earnings in your example above, vendor fees could cost a few hundred dollars, which would eat into that estimated revenue.  

    I have read stories where some professional photographers actually stay off the convention grounds and do their paid photoshoots outside, so these photographers not only avoid paying a vendor fee, but they also don't pay for a convention badge.  Technically, they aren't doing anything illegal, but they also aren't contributing to the convention, which draws the costumed attendees in the first place.

    The same legal gray area applies at anime conventions.  In addition, anime cosplayers really don't have that much money to pay typical portrait photography rates compared to comic and steampunk costumers.  Anime cosplayers tend to be younger than comic and steampunk costumers, so anime cosplayers' disposable incomes are not as high.  This is where my comment that you may not make that much money in this target audience applies.

    I have charged a nominal fee ($10 or $20 for 4-6 digital photos, which is way lower than the typical rate) for my photography labor at a few anime conventions in the past, and my openings do get filled.  However, I don't really want to book the convention weekend with photoshoots either.  I would want to enjoy the convention as well.  Not to mention, photography isn't my primary income, so I don't have a strong need to charge a lot for photography services.

    If you can make some extra money on the side doing these things because the target market has money to pay you, more power to you. :)
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