Cosplay Photography Tips

Last Updated on March 22, 2021

1. Create a Good Scene

saw cosplayer with black background

For your photo shoot to really be complete, you have to make sure that you have a good background scene set up that matches the person you are photographing. Be sure to pick a background that your subject has the freedom to move around and connect with.

If you are shooting a fairy scene, for example, you’ll want to make sure you use a woodland background or one where there might be fog or some kind of smokiness in the background.

2. Stick with Natural Lighting

cosplayer in japanese street

Try to refrain from using your camera’s flash to make the photo look as natural as possible. If you can, take photos near windows or doorways or anywhere you’ll be able to get plenty of natural light.

If you simply can’t find any natural light or are taking photos inside, try to use an external flash so that you can prevent harsh shadows and can instead find ways to manipulate the light to complement the person you are shooting.

3. Use Different Angles

cosplayer standing in wheat field

This one is a no-brainer but is worth mentioning anyway. Don’t be afraid to experiment and shoot photos from different angles. This is a great way to get a feel for the character and find out what angles work best for them.

If your subject is wearing makeup, shooting from different angles will allow for you to highlight their appearance and even make it more exaggerated. This is also a good way to create optical illusions and even make it seem like your subject is climbing a wall or floating above air.

4. Gain Inspiration

cosplay in graffiti wall

If you know ahead of time the particular character you are shooting, it may be wise to familiarize yourself with the character as much as possible. For example, if you’re shooting a Lord of the Rings character, consider watching parts of the movie in which the specific character appears.

In doing so, you’ll be able to gain inspiration for scenes and different poses that you can do with the cosplayer. Be sure to take screenshots or notes from specific scenes that stood out to you the most and that you hope to recreate with your subject.

If you don’t have time to watch an entire movie, you can always look up photos of said character on the Internet or even flip through some comic books.

5. Communicate with Your Subject

poison ivy cosplay

This is a pretty important part of the process. Discuss with your subject what they hope to get out of the photo session and even try to find out what this particular character means to them. The more you get to know them, the easier it will be to figure out the right shots to get.

Talking to your subject can also help you figure out what they are and aren’t comfortable with in terms of poses or even the clothes they wear.

6. Use a Posing Guide

little red riding hood cosplay

Many times, using a posing guide will help make your model feel much more comfortable. A posing guide can be useful in guiding your model and helping them pose in ways that will be most flattering to them.

Some examples include lifting your chin up to prevent a double chin and to focus on the jawline, keeping your back straight, and even making sure your model’s arm doesn’t lay flat against their body as this can make it look much bigger than it actually is.

7. Take Candid Photos

little red riding hood cosplayer sitting on stump

Of course, not everything has to be posed all the time. To create some natural shots, try and take some candid or non-posed photos of your model. If you can, try and include other cosplayers into the scene to make it look more realistic, especially if the cosplayers are from the same universe as your model.

Be sure to use a zoom lens when taking group shots or photos from a distance so that you don’t have to get up close to the group and the photos can be as natural as possible.

8. Use Lots of Props

It may be hard to sell your model’s character if they aren’t suited with the right props. Whether it’s a sword, a shield, or even a fake parrot, you’ll want to make sure your model has everything they need to be as convincing as possible.

Cosplaying isn’t just about dressing up and making sure the model has on the right makeup. You’ll also want to make sure you add in subtle details and effects to really make the scene stand out. If your character lives in an area where it snows but you’re in the middle of summer, you can always purchase fake snow to use for the background.

9. Take Detailed Shots

Oftentimes, cosplayers go through a lot of trouble to make sure that their costumes are absolutely perfect. This could mean hours of putting in details to get the costume as accurate as possible. Be sure to acknowledge all the hard work put into these costumes by snapping some photos of the details.

This could include anything from a handmade mask to the carefully placed gems on a crown. Regardless of what it is, taking detailed shots of a costume or even the background will show just how much thought and consideration went into not just taking the photos, but creating the perfect scene, too.