Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What makes a Cosplay Photographer?

If anything, this has been one of the most least understood (and downright enigmatic) element in the cosplay community. As far as I know, its been a self-named category to differentiate itself from other "normal" photographers.

So what is a Cosplay Photographer?

On the outside, and probably the most obvious, is that its a group of photographers who concentrate more into photographing cosplayers. There has been a growing number of photographers posting their photos on their multiply accounts. Some were praised, others were criticized as being "improper" on their subject selections (and some more critical instances, their focus on certain body parts).

I once observed a few of these photographers by random, and i came up with different observations on what makes them a "cosplay photographer", some of which can be summarized under the following bullet points:

A cosplay photographer is:
  • someone who exclusively shoots cosplayers either randomly or artistically.
  • someone who invites cosplayers to photo-shoots and volunteers to shoot them
  • someone who shoot cosplay events
  • someone who shoots people in costumes (this may sound redundant, but apparently those in costumes may not necessarily be cosplayers, and has been assumed a cosplayer by the photographer)
  • someone who shoots whatever he or she fancies but has to be in a costume that the person likes
So based from these observations, its seems that a cosplay photographer is as varied as any photographer who happens to shoot someone in costume, except that in most cases, that photographer had made it exclusive. Now my question is (and i hope it could be answered by cosplay photographers out there), what really makes a cosplay photographer different from the other photographers? Stating the same reasons above, to me, is not a good enough reason in my opinion. I imagine a cosplay photographer being more specialized in their field, something that totally makes them different from a fashion photographer, or a landscape photographer, or even nude photographer.

And I have been browsing some of these cosplay photographers, and most of their photos either event photos or emotive photos (photos that reveal emotion of the subject, especially if he or she was not aware they were being taken). Not saying I don't mind those photos, some of them are actually very good and done in good taste. But most of the ones I know who make such beautiful photos don't even label themselves as Cosplay Photographers.

So again, what makes a Cosplay Photographer? If anything, they should probably relate themselves more on the Cosplay aspect. Is having cosplayers as subjects make them eligible to be called Cosplay Photographers?

Maybe part of the reason should be that these photographers should at least have the following experiences behind their lens:

Cosplay Photographers must have close knowledge of the characters the cosplayer is cosplaying.
One thing i noticed in most portfolios of these Cosplay Photographers, is that they lacked giving certain characters life. They just make the cosplayer pose, take a shoot, and that's it. If I see a character Chun Li being photographed, i don't see the photographers capture the grace and power of what a heroic streetfighter should be. Sometimes all i see is a girl with her face, panties or breasts painfully in focus. Same goes to other girl fighters from Tekken, Ragnarok or Superheroes.

Cosplay Photographers should know the best places to shoot particular characters.
Another annoying thing about photographers is choosing the venue of photography for certain cosplay characters. Ive seen shots Bleach characters taken in what obviously looks like a backyard, sometimes with garden ornaments still in view. Ok, granted that probably they had very little resources to take, but it doesn't make it a really good cosplay shoot. You simply shoot for the sake of shooting. Cosplay Photographers, being the supposed experts in the field of making things look good on camera, should be the forefront in suggesting to these cosplayers the proper setting for their characters (which is why its important that these Cosplay Photographers know the characters they are shooting).
Cosplay Photographers should concentrate on the character, not of the person portraying the character.
Ok, sure he or she is cute as a person, but its the character you should let out and be immortalized on film (or digital memory). If possible, the Cosplay Photographer should always remind the cosplayer to be in character when the shooting starts.
On the creative side, perhaps Cosplay Photographers should make cosplay characters interesting, not just sexual.
Character research should make this work. Imagine placing the characters in humorous situations that may or may not be related to the series, like what if Lelouch and C.C. of Code Geass decide to go shopping or try out a carnival, at the same time trying to capture the awkwardness of the situation they've been inserted in.

Neways, these are just suggestions. If a photographer should decide to label themselves as cosplay photographers, they might as well get into the knowledge of not just photography but the essence of cosplaying as well.

If a person with a camera labels themselves as a specialist in the field, might as well prove it, right?

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