Cosplay Photography Do’s and Dont’s and SDCC

I originally wrote this article to help people who wanted to make photographing Cosplayers more fun for both people. In light of the recent San Diego Comic-con harassment charges brought against numerous guys attending the Con (some being photographers), It became apparent to me that I need to be say something about this. It is just a tragedy that we all as Nerds and Geeks cannot come together to celebrate the things we love, if thats comics, movies,art, or cosplay. I am a geek and nerdy, I get it, guys are all a bit social awkward at times and especially when talking to girls. This can be even more difficult when those same girls are dressed up as your favorite comic and pop culture heroines. BUT actively bothering, cat calling and any physical contact is just plain wrong! We are supposed to be celebrating the joys of being geeky and nerdy and to treat any one of us as less than a person devalues us all as a whole. I am pretty ticked off at the fact that there is a sub group of guys that cannot just enjoy the convention without trying to take advantage of others. This seriously has to stop. I also understand and acknowledge that harassment of this type is not just relegated to comic cons but is pervasive in our culture. I am just surprised that we as geeks and nerds can’t get together without guys being jackasses.

now, on to the actual blog post I wrote:

Below is a quick primer on photographing cosplay that I put together to hopefully help people out. I try to follow most if not all the rules set forth below whenever I am at a convention.

Maybe its because I am going to more comic cons or maybe cosplay is getting more popular. Either way, there are a ton of opportunities to photograph some really great costumes and maybe even make some friends along the way. Let me first state the following, I am not a pro photographer I am an amateur and although I went to school for photography, I do not get paid for my hobby.

That being said I have seen some do’s and don’t when it comes to taking cosplay photos. Here are my thoughts:

Don’t be creepy.

I have seen more than I care to say of photographers wanting to get a photograph of someone who for whatever reason doesn’t want their picture taken. This is most commonly seen when its a male taking a photo of a female. Guys, please try to be professional about this. Cosplayer’s by and large are very proud of their work and I have not come across a person who did not want to at least talk about the costuming they did. If you dead eye stare at a female they are going to get creeped out and not want to stand still for a photo from a creepy guy. Nuff said.

Do Be professional.

I suggest that if you are going to take photos and even think about posting them online at sites like or 500px you should have business cards of some sort. I spend $25 bucks at and get some mini cards printed before each con. I can ask to take the persons photo then I hand them the business card that has links to my flickr portfolio and my social media contacts when I am saying thank you to them. This goes a long way to also reduce any possible creep factor you may be accidentally broadcasting. It also shows that you care about your photography.

Do give credit where credit is due.

You might not always be able to do this especially at a convention where the cosplayer might be mobbed by other photographers (more on that in a second) but try to get the person’s name or at least a social media contact so you can give them credit when you upload them to your online portfolio. They spent a ton of time to put this all together so you should at least try to get some way to let the world know who they really are in real life. Some professional models will have a handle they go by instead of their name so make sure you know how they want to be represented.

Do take your shot and let others do the same.

There are times when you might not be able to to walk up immediately and get the persons name. This usually happens in the “sweet spot” photo areas in a con. You can always tell where they are as the area usually is larger and when a cosplayer arrives a wall of cameras lines up. Take your shot and move out of the way. Even if you are a “press pass” holder that doesn’t make you any better than the rest of the crowd. If you see the professional photographers there try to take a page from their book. watch what they do and do the same.

Do tell the cosplayer what you will be doing with the photo.

This goes back to why I have a mini business card from Cosplayers want to know where their photos will be shown and why you are taking them. Letting them know where to look for them will be appreciated. Also, the cosplayer may not want their photo used on certain sites which they would tell you. All of this can be discussed during that nice section of time when you hand them that card. I really like it as I have made a few good friends that started out by me taking their photo and handing them that little card.

Don’t even think of selling any of your photos without a release signed by the Cosplayer

This is pretty easy. If you and the cosplayer agree that it is okay for you to profit on the photo there are a bunch more things you as the photographer needs to do to make sure legally you can receive money for an image of that cosplayer. This can include waivers, releases, attribution, etc… For me its too much work to bother with so I only post them online in my flickr gallery and tweet them. I make ZERO cash from the cosplay photos and so should you. Enjoy meeting new people and talking about the costuming. Work on your craft of taking photos and enjoy the convention.

The act of going to a con alone should be fun an enjoyable by everyone. If you attend a con as a photographer following these tips will ensure that everyone attending has a fun time.