Photography Etiquette pt 1 – COSPLAYERS

Stock Photo of a Photo is meta!

Hello everyone out there in the internets-verse, Hope everyone’s had a great weekend.

I’d planned this post at the beginning of the month, but it turned out to be uncomfortably timely (Journalism instincts die hard I guess?) when the other day I saw a post about calling out a photographer. I have mixed feelings about call-out culture, but in general, when it’s the last option to warn others about either a really slow turn around, scam, or just low quality. But I’ve also seen the call-out thing be used when a client didn’t get their way when dealing with a photographer. Which makes me wrinkle my nose into an expression of EXTREME DISAPPOINTMENT IN THE CLIENT’S LIFE CHOICES. *STARE*


Cosplay Cat is Displeased with these people.

*ahem.* So. Until there’s a Better Business Bureau (or whatever it’s called in the states) for Cosplay Photography, I figured I’d cover how to get the best results while dealing with a photographer, and what to look out for, to save your own butt. I’ll follow up this week with a post for photographers covering similar things but on dealing with the strange things called cosplayers.


How to Photography Etiquette

Aka: How to prevent issues that are totally preventable and have a good time.

DO Research

Not like, going to the library and studying *shudder* but look up their work and see what people are saying about them.


“Snake friend was a little too Friendly… Photographer was great!”

Were they easy to work with? Did they deliver the pictures on time? Did they deliver the pictures at all? How is the quality of their work? and so on.

This can take care of a LOT of headaches later on. Unfortunately, sometimes you can still get caught in a bad deal, but at least research can weed out some of the sketchier, or, pricey options and let you focus on who will work best for you and with you.

DO Confirm

Before shoots, I always try to confirm with my photographer on the ‘when and where and what’. Partially to make sure I have the right information, partially to make sure they’re still available (Acts Of GOD happen, and they might be out with food poisoning or something). Also, I might not know the photographer personally yet, so I’ll give them an idea of what i’ll be looking like so I’m easier to find.

‘Giantess Ruffly Pluto’ worked really well at Katsu.

Bonus point(s): The photographer will know you’re still ready for the shoot.

DO Prepare ahead of time

Be Prepared

This ties into the following ‘DO’, but it’s so much more than making sure you’ll be there on time. Important things that I’ve learned to think about and have ready before a shoot are:

  • Practice multiple poses
    • doubly important if you’re part of a group
  • Ideas for locations
  • Costume sturdily on. Hide all duct tape and safety pins.
  • Bring a photoshoot kit:
    • makeup to touch up lipstick or bust nose-shine.
    • eyelash glue, those things flop around a lot in wind.
    • safety pins
    • flash tape
    • Cash if you’re paying the photographer on location
    • con pass
    • flats if shoes are easily removable but uncomfortable to walk far in
    • music if you like that thing (and so Eleventh Photography doesn’t play weird al while you’re trying to be regal and shit.) Music can make a huge difference in how to you feel and that can really come across in photos.
  • transportation if required
  • checking to make sure everything is on the correct side (koff Weiss koff)

DO be Punctual

So. I develop mild anxiety if I’m running late for… anything. (Work excepted. hah… [joking mom. Joking.]) I always think that I’m wasting someone’s important time that they could be using to do important things like pee, or eat, or nap or save the world from rampaging moose.

As a result, it bothers me when people are late, because my time is important too. Obviously, Acts Of GOD still exist, in the forms of con lines, elevator lines, traffic, Moose on the loose. (Real talk: this is an actual issue Canadians face. Car vs. Moose always ends in the moose winning.)

photo by Fernando Farfan

Sorry, I was busy giving some gumshoe a hard time.

If things do come up, let the photographer know as soon as you know you’re going to be delayed, and try to give an estimated time of when you’ll be there. They’re pretty accommodating, as I said last post, they’re human. They too have experienced delays due to large herbivores.

DO Be Professional (ish… just don’t be an asshole)

Look, I’m not asking you to treat this like a job interview. We play dressup for godssakes. But especially if you don’t know a photographer, it’s a good idea not to be all ‘heeey so I’m still a little drunk from last night, that’s okay right?’ and then burp in their face.

Actually, don’t burp in a friend’s face either.

HIssy fit

Usually after the first five to ten minutes you can get a feel for who you’re working with and how much silliness they’re willing to deal with. Have fun with your shoot, just don’t do it at the expense of your photographer.

If you’re paying for the shoot, it’s a business transaction, so don’t do the shoot then refuse to pay, or… I don’t know… be a jerk.

DO Bring a friend-ssistant

*deep breath in* Hooookay. So, I know that the ‘bring a friend thing’ is looked down on by some photographers, but I think that they’re generally stupid and unfamiliar with how ladies in particular have to deal with creepy ass shit all the time.




Luckily most cosplay shoots are at a con or nearby. That means that it’s not sequestered at a studio and you’re not alone. When I was doing the modeling thing in studios and remote areas, I absolutely brought friends, though I’d let the photographer know ahead of time. If the photographer had ever said no, I’d have cancelled the shoot.

The shitty truth is, until you know someone, it’s hard to tell what the difference is between a shy photographer and a creepy one. Or worse, a creep with a camera. (also known as GWCs)


This guy is 50 Shades of NOPE.

But friends are useful for more than just bodyguards/physical intimidation. They help adjust wigs that are slipping, skirts so that they flare just right, hold your purse or con bag of choice. They can point out if a key part of your dress is not covering the bits it should, and can double as a lighting stand for the photographer. Friend-ssistants are wonderful

Reward your loving friend-ssistant with tea, coffee or a beer later.

Red Flags

Working with Photographers can be awesome. Or Awful. Keep an eye out for the following:

The photographer is MIA

If you can’t get a hold of the photographer to confirm your shoot, or to arrange a time for one… they’re probably not going to show up on time, if at all. And if they do, it’s a toss up if you’ll get your photos back at all.

They don’t seem to know about photography basics

If they don’t take a couple test shots, if they just bring the camera up to their eye and snap snap snap, then I always get a little cautious. My experience tells me if they don’t white balance or take time to focus/ check lighting, I’ll end up with photos that are too dark or blurry to use.

Taking a picture of the ground

“I’m just checking the aperture balance so the focal length is perfect”

If the photographer seems like a gopher on speed, bouncing around from place to place, and doesn’t let you see shots, then the photos are going to be blurry and you’ll be frustrated.

They ask for the full cost up front EDITED

As in, you have to pay a non-refundable, non-transferrable FULL AMOUNT before you even start shooting. Non refundable deposits are fine, that’s part of business to ensure that your client will, in fact, not cancel at the last minute and leave you without any money.


When someone asks for the full amount, there’s no incentive for them to actually… do… anything. For you. Ever.

Edit! After speaking with one of my sources (HAHAHA I HAVE THOSE AGAIN! Eat it, failed life as a journalist!) I found out that full payment upfront is actually an industry standard for professional photographers. Hehe… whoops. Sorry Photographers. Addenum below:

What I was initially trying to say was that if you don’t feel comfortable with a pricing scheme, look for someone who fits your needs better. Always keep in mind what you are looking for, because… well, you’re the client.

It is important to weigh the cost of a shoot vs. what you’ll be getting out of it. Some photographers price in the 100-200$ range, but spend 5+ hours post processing and beauty-passing each image, and will coach you on posing. Others, will only charge 15$ but do only a brief post process adjustment of levels before sending you the images.

So, make a list of what you’re looking for, and what you’re willing to pay for that. Then go looking for someone that fits you and your needs. (Photoshoot needs. THOSE other needs are only met by Dorian’s sexy Moustache in DA:I)


They increase the cost of the shoot after it’s over

Granted, I’ve only heard of this one, but I wouldn’t put it past some people. It’s like when those people at amusement parks take your picture and then offer to sell it to you for your soul 50$. BUT WORSE.

If someone does this to you, make sure you let people know. It’s a dick, dick, move. If it becomes a problem in the community, I get the feeling contracts and model releases are going to have to be commonplace.

They repeatedly try to touch your costume to ‘adjust’ it.






Many negative reviews

As part of the ‘DO RESEARCH’ thing above, if you see a lot of complaining from various cosplayers about a certain photographer, then I’d suggest maybe not booking that photographer.

Sometimes someone can be a jerk and write a bad review because they didn’t get 110% of what they wanted, but if bad reviews are coming from multiple sources… ehhhhhh……. *waggles hand*


Unprofessional comments

“Oh man you’re so hot. [Insert bad pickup line]”

“So are you single? What are you doing after this?”

“You’d look much better if you lose weight. Or get rid of that cellulite.”

“Ugh, the last shoot was turning out so much better.”

Unprofessionalism comes in many different forms. If you don’t feel comfortable, cancel the shoot. I’ve been lucky, and only shot with people that I was comfortable with since I started cosplay. These are just things that I have heard of, or seen on the con floor.

The awesome thing about cosplay is that it still is a small (ish) community. If you’re curious about working with a certain photographer, ask around. Chances are someone’s heard of them and can give you a low-down on what they’re like.

Hope this helps everyone as we start gearing up for con-season.

xox Calamity

6 thoughts on “Photography Etiquette pt 1 – COSPLAYERS

  1. This is a pretty good post. (I was linked here from an article that wasn’t as well thought out)

    One more huge warning sign is if the photographer tries to ask for something risque and says the cosplayer shouldn’t worry because they won’t post it. Then why are you taking the photo at all?

    I shoot cosplayers. I sometimes shoot risque things. But I don’t shoot anything I wouldn’t want my name on. Yet I’ve overheard others say this several times. I hope it doesn’t work.