We covered the Cosplayers learning to play nice with photographers and now it’s their turn to learn how to play nice with us cosplayers! BWAHAHAHAHA~ wait, we’re not supposed to evil-laugh while they’re in earshot right? shit. Ignore that.
ANYHOW. A lot of today’s tips will be similar to the do’s of Cosplay Photography for Photographers. These are suggestions from various photographers that I’ve spoken to, as well as things that are cross-applicable from cosplayers/general business.
LET US BEGIN.
How to Photography Etiquette
Aka: How to prevent issues that are totally preventable and have a good time.
DO Prepare your equipment
I’m not saying you need the fanciest equipment out there, because like cosplay, photograph quality comes down to skill, knowledge and creativity. BUT. It’s not really encouraging when you’re five minutes into a shoot and the photographer has to stop because their battery is low, or their card is full and they don’t have a back up.
DO Be Punctual
Acts of God aside, Please be on time. I know it’s hard to navigate cons with all these other gorgeous costumes around, but if you’ve scheduled a shoot (especially a paid one), be on time. If you’re running late, at least let the cosplayers know via text and when they can expect you to be at the location you’ve agreed on.
DO keep your appointments
Illnesses and Acts of God happen, but if you’ve booked a shoot, please make it. Whether you’ve double booked, or overbooked, if you don’t make one booking or cut it short to get to a second, the cosplayers probably aren’t going to… be happy.
You wouldn’t like us when we’re unhappy.
This is a rare instance. But it’s happened. So please, don’t be that person. plan ahead to avoid uncomfortable and emotionally damaging conflicts.
DO be clear about what you offer and what you don’t
Do you offer the .RAW files? What about extensive post-processing? How many pictures will the cosplayer get, and if they pay extra, can they purchase more?
What about pose coaching? We need that. Some of us cosplayers know what looks good, many of us… have no idea what hands do.
HANDS. WHAT ARE THEY EVEN? WHERE DO THEY GO?
Also being clear up-front about what your clients can expect helps resolve disputes later on.
“But you said I could get 10 shots!”
*links services page, saying 4.*
see? Clarity is good.
DO be clear about who gets the rights to the photos
Not everyone who shoots with you will want to sell prints, but some might. It’s worth looking into rights agreements and saying upfront what the client is getting when they book you.
- Do you maintain the rights, and they only get personal use?
- Do they get all the distribution/sales rights?
- If they use the images to sell, do you get a royalty based on cost?
- If so, how much and how often do you expect royalty cheques?
DO let the cosplayer(s) know where they can access their photos & when to expect them
Life is super busy, we get that. (Most of us, anyways). But it’s nice to have an estimated date where we can get our worbla-burnt, paint-dirty hands on those beautiful images you took of us.
Giving a due date (hur hur, babies), lets us know when we’re allowed to start asking if they’re ready. This leaves you free of pestering cosplayers constantly asking ‘are you done? are you done? are you done?’ which if you’re like me, makes you only want to work more slowly.
DO remember to spend similar amounts of time with each member of a group for paid shoots
OKAY. So. You book a group shoot, and you’re taking pictures and OMG you’re really into the costume of one of the group so you get a couple more pictures with them, no big deal right?
We notice with our eyes of doom and narrow them at you. If you’re doing hall shots, and there’s no booking, totally cool. But if a group has booked and paid for time with you, it’s the whole group that needs your glorious attention.
IF we’ve booked time with you, even on a solo shoot, you’ve booked your time. (This sounds redundant, but gimme a sec…) that means please don’t run off on the way to the shoot location to grab shots of other cosplayers. Or get distracted by seeing an old friend and chatting for 15 minutes.
Cons are super fun social time for everyone, but if we’ve paid for shoot time, we’re not going to be overly pleased if you spend half that time taking pictures of other cosplayers, or talking to your friends.
So, please don’t do this.
DO be safe.
SAFETY IS NOT JUST FOR COSPLAYERS. It’s a lady-centric thing, really.
IF YOU DO NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE AT A LOCATION, LEAVE.
IF YOU DO NOT FEEL SAFE WITH A CLIENT, LEAVE.
IF YOU ARE NERVOUS, BRING A FRIEND-SSISSTANT. A TALL, BURLY ONE. THEY CAN BE YOUR LIGHT STAND.
IF YOU RETURN MONEY YOU WERE PAID, YOU HAVE NO OBLIGATION TO SHOOT WITH SOMEONE.
YOU HAVE NO OBLIGATION TO DO SOMETHING YOU DON’T FEEL COMFORTABLE DOING. Like working with drunk people, high people, overly rowdy groups, buncha dudes in a hotel room, or someone that gives you the creeps.
Be safe. <3
Cosplayers can be a fount of creativity and awesome costumes… unfortunately we have a reputation for being… dramatic. Or worse. Keep an eye out for the following from clients:
Shows up to planned shoot drunk/inebriated
Let’s be real, no one looks good in a shoot when their eyes are lidded and unfocused. A drink or two, is up to you (HAH IT RHYMES. I’M POETIC) but no sober person I know enjoys working with someone lit off their ass.
General attitude/lack of enthusiasm
This one kind of… confuses me, but multiple sources I spoke to brought it up. Why anyone would book a shoot if they didn’t want to be there is beyond me, but hey it happens apparently?
Yeah, yeah we’ll pose in a minu…snrkzzzzzzzz
People can be shy, or new to doing photoshoots, but when your client is just completely –not interested– in being there, your work will suffer. And maybe even your confidence.
Demanding you change the way you do business
Remember when I said earlier to be clear about what services you offer? This client is why. They’ll ask for the .RAW files, or for you to spend significant amounts of time post-processing only to change their mind and ask for you to do it over.
I said, .RAW files. DID I STUTTER?!
These clients generally start the demands early on, so at least you’ll be able to weed them out if you aren’t up to dealing with them.
Refusing to sign a model release (if you use those)
BIG. BIG, BIG, WARNING.
Model releases protect your photographer butt from being sued later. They’re less common in cosplay than they are in modelling, but basically the model is saying ‘yes you can take my picture and distribute it, I know what I’m doing and won’t legally pursue you for monies afterwards’.
If you use model releases, and someone refuses to sign? Don’t work with them. Don’t do it. So long as the release form is standard and not requesting their soul in bloody sacrifice, it’s odd that someone would want to work with you and NOT be willing to sign an agreement.
Bad reputation among other photographers
Much like Cosplayers can give feedback on photographers, the reverse is true. If you know of a cosplayer that has caused a lot of trouble for various photographers, then it is completely in your ability to choose not to work with them.
People might try to pull out the ‘no you have to!’ card, but it’s bullshit. It was bullshit when I worked at laser tag and had drunk 20yr olds tell me that I had to let them play, and it’ll be bullshit forever more.
They don’t listen/care to your information/requirements
Oh dear, I cannot hear you over my sick mix tape.
Cosplayer: “So, we’re going to shoot at this location 5 km away from the Con.”
Photographer: “No… I have a shoot right after this. We agreed on a Con location”
Cosplayer: “I changed my mind. we’re going to shoot there.”
Cosplayer: “And I’m going to need the .Raws so I can change my eye colour later,”
Photographer: “no…. I only give Jpegs-”
Cosplayer: “OMG. And I didn’t finish my prop, so you’re going to need to shop it in. It’s a mech. That’s kay right?”
Photographer: “Not really”
Cosplayer: “And if you don’t do this I’m going to leave a bad review”
OK it probably doesn’t go quite that badly as above, but if someone’s really not listening to your requirements and information, they’re probably not going to be great to work with.
Again, this is all from personal experiences from myself and those photographers who I spoke to.
I hope this helped, and best of luck out there as con season starts it’s slow, but inevitable roll forward. GIRD YOURSELVES, IT’S ALMOST APRIL.*
*Someone please inform Canada’s weather, it still thinks we’re in February. Kthx.