Cosplay Photography History

Manifest was a couple of weekends ago now and my report for Anime News Network AU has since been published so if you want to read up on our experiences and impressions click here now. The purpose of this blog post though is more to focus on the idea of convention photography and how it has evolved for me.

I think it’s fair to say that convention and cosplay photography constitute a big chunk of the work I do. Rummaging through my collection of convention passes, it dawned on me that I’ve been attending cons for almost a decade! That said, it’s only been in the past 4 years that I can say I’ve been doing cosplay photo shoots. Prior to this, I’ve been taking photos purely for the love of the series.


“Holy crap! They’re re-enacting a scene from teh aniem!”


It was a case of, “Omg, you’re from Naruto and your costume looks cool! Can I please take your photo?” For a good majority of people going to conventions today, this is still the top reason why you’d ask a cosplayer to stop in their tracks and take a few snaps. That’s how it started. After a while human tendency to collect sets start to take over and you think, “wouldn’t it be cool if I can take a picture of Naruto with Sasuke and Sakura?” Pretty soon you just gotta catch ‘em all!

Cosplay meets provided people the opportunity to cosplay outside of conventions. I was probably part of the crowd before they were just cosplay meets and were more general anime fandom gatherings. In these more intimate outings people no longer just kept the photos for their own collection. Initially the line between cosplayer and photographer wasn’t clear. Everyone had a camera and everyone cosplayed in some form or another.


Back in the days when I was a cosplayer myself. Doing shoots before I even called them “shoots”.


That all changed once the cosplayers dared to be more adventurous with their creations. The costumes became more complex, took longer to make and definitely cost more money. It was inevitable then that they would like their creations to be preserved in perpetuity and photography was the easy solution. Anyone with an SLR became a cosplayer’s best friend.

From my experience, I began to not just take pictures of cosplayers; it became a goal to take good photos of cosplayers. You ramped your efforts up, you tried more gear and you studied up on more techniques that are appropriate for each shoot. Eventually you’ve amassed enough experience and produced results that instead of you asking a random cosplayer in the middle of a convention for their photo, it is the cosplayers that approached you to do a shoot with them. The cosplay photographer is born!


Magi studio shoot with lots of post processing involved.


I can’t say that I take pictures of random cosplayers in conventions anymore apart from ones that I deem useful for the articles I write for ANN. But the need in me to keep collecting still remains though these days it’s more to do with pushing the boundaries of my photography. It’s become about trying techniques that I haven’t done yet. It’s about doing shoots with popular cosplayers you’ve never worked with before. If we’re talking about fun here, cosplay photography is immense fun because it is practically a video game. I guess the only question is, when can you say that you’ve won the game.

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