At 7PM Sunday on the Diversity Track, Mahogany Wings (Nikita), Danique Events (Dana), Andrew Michael Phillips (Drew) of AMPCosplay, Legend of Micah, and moderator Barr Fox gathered to discuss the challenges and benefits of cosplay and convention photography and videography. The panelists addressed a variety of issues around how to have a successful cosplay photography or videography (Xography) shoot in your favorite costume.
The first topic discussed was what makes cosplay Xography different from other forms of the art. Drew was the first to chime in. His take was that it is a lot like high fashion photography, but every subject has a story to tell and a personality that needs to be brought out in the end-product. Also, mentioned was the people skills that are involved when trying to pull out the aforementioned personalities. The Xographer has to know the character well enough to be able to guide their, often introverted, subject to get the best out of them.
Next, they approached the age-old question “what equipment does someone need to break into cosplay Xography?” The general consensus was start with whatever you and learn your craft before spending money on expensive equipment. Once you are at the point to start spending the money, Drew suggested a speedlight, a Phottix radio transmitter/receiver, a light stand, and travel octagon softbox. Widely available entry level camera kits were also suggested, the Nikon D3X00 series or the Canon T series are both popular bets. However, as was pointed out by a few of the panelists, the technology is at the point that you can get high quality for a low price. On the videography side specifically, Micah mentioned that having a variety of lenses for different situations would be a good idea. From the software side, the photographers unanimously suggested Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom is good for organization and basic post processing. Once you get more advanced at your craft, then you can start using Photoshop.
Finally, they discussed how to approach a cosplay photoshoot both as the photographer and as the subject. The biggest advice on both sides of the camera is just to relax. Otherwise, you will not get the best end-product. Dana suggested the photographer be the subject’s “biggest hype fan” and help the subject feel special and confident. They also agreed that a background in customer service wouldn’t steer you wrong. You have to approach potential subjects with caution and need to be able to read people to an extent. The photographer is automatically intimidating just by virtue of holding the glass.
If you are an aspiring convention or cosplay photographer or videographer, there was a lot of great information from these experienced Xographers, and I suggest you go back and watch the replay.