Photographing Cosplay and Costume Portraits

Photographing Cosplay and Costume Portraits

Photographing cosplay has become huge over the last few years. Lots of photographers are trying it out and heading along to conventions to meet cosplayers and take pictures. But what about trying it in a more controlled environment? Either your home studio or out and about on location?

I love shooting cosplay portraits alongside my regular portraits. I think they make a great break from the more serious side of portrait photography. Dressing up and pretending to be someone else can be really good fun for your model too. That’s why I put together an article for Digital Photography School with some of my best tips for photographing costume portraits.

What is Cosplay?

Cosplay is short for costume play. Most commonly that means creating a costume inspired by movies, television, or videogames. But it can also mean just dressing up in costume more generally.

Many cosplayers spend hours working on their costumes, makeup, hair, and mannerisms. This makes them a really wonderful subject to photograph. Many cosplayers actively look for photographers who enjoy photographing cosplay too so that they can get fantastic images of their costumes.

Tips for Photographing Cosplay Portraits

I genuinely think that the best way to shoot a great cosplay portrait is to think about the story that you’re trying to tell. That could be a Marvel Supervillain or a humble medieval farmworker, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you consider all the elements of the photograph that you are making.

photographing cosplay

Take some time to really think through the costume and props, make sure they’re all helping to create the story that you want to tell. When you’re photographing cosplay each element in the frame really matters. Everything must fit the theme, the concept, and the story.

Getting the technical basic right always helps too – great lighting will always help to sell a story. So when you’re photographing cosplay make sure that you bring all elements together for the final image. It’s worth considering that there are lots of ways to make income from cosplay photography as a professional photographer – perfect if you’re getting bored of your day to day photography work. I’ve also known photographers who have booked lucrative wedding photography jobs as a result of some of the work they’ve done with cosplayers and reenactors in the past. It can be a fun way to network and find new clients.