By Meredith Placko
Contributing Writer, [GAS]
The first thing I do after returning home from my photo shoot with Thomas Dodd is strip off the eight layers of makeup. Becoming the Queen of Albion is not an easy task. It takes three makeup wipes to get my face clean!
Then I place myself firmly in front of my computer and log onto Facebook. I refresh the page again. I check my email; nothing new to report there either. It’s been less than an hour since I got home from my Queen Esther shoot and I’m impatiently checking to see if my photographer has posted any photos. Of course he hasn’t. Thomas is an artist; I remind myself that it may be a week until I see even one photo.
Being patient is the hardest part post photo shoot. Because of the instant gratification culture we live in, many cosplayers want to post their photos the moment it is captured on camera. The reality is, if you want to post a great photo, you’re going to have to wait.
I’m not big into the over Photoshopped looks of glamor magazines and makeup ads. I want my cosplay photos to tell a story. However, that doesn’t mean simply plugging your SD card into your machine and posting every photo taken that day. I recognize things like color correction, cropping, maybe some artistic styling, and yes, even blemish control and a small makeover may be needed to make the perfect photo. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, the post work that goes into a photo should be just as detailed and thought out as the energy you put into your photo shoot.
It is also crucial to keep an open line of communication with your photographer. Prior to the shoot, or at the shoot itself, you should talk to them and ask what their turn around time is. A lot of “cosplay photographers” do it as a side job, they may have paying clients or a different career altogether that takes priority in their lives. Talk with them beforehand and get an estimated time of when you can expect to see your photos, and how many.
Some photographers will work with you in selecting the photos you want edited. Others prefer to make the decision themselves. Still, there are those who will send you a disk of unedited images and it’s up to you to finish them as you please. Find out which way your photographer prefers and if you have a preference, don’t be afraid to speak up. This is a join effort – you both want to put the best photo out there.
There are things a photographer sees as a great photo, but as a model I’ll look at it and make the most obnoxious “BLECH” face and start questioning if I really am that unfortunate looking. I can’t tell you how many times a photographer has shown me a technically gorgeous photo, but I am severely unhappy with how I look. Do I shut up and say thank you for the work they did and banish the photo from my sight? No, I tell them my thoughts on it. If you approach the issue in a respectful and professional manner, they should understand. If they don’t, well, it’s a hard case because they technically own the photo. They can do what they want with it. You just have to suck it up, move on and pray that image doesn’t make it on 4chan.
Another thing to establish with your photographer is the control you have over the photo. Talk with the photographer and find out how comfortable they are with editing. Because of our wonderful advertising industry where women are portrayed as flawless beauty queens upon waking up in the morning, many cosplayers obsess over the smallest details in their photos. Personally, I think that the photo should be about the costume and the character. Not how flawless your skin looks. However, I understand not wanting a giant sit or yellow teeth showing up.
Photographers should listen to models concerns, and models shouldn’t put unreasonable expectations on photographers (Make me look like a Victoria’s Secret model!). If you don’t think they will be able to make the corrections you want, ask if they won’t mind if you edit, or outsource the photo editing process. Then, get it in writing. Remember the model release you should have signed at your photo shoot? It usually states the model’s limited rights when it comes to the use of the images. So if you want to alter, change and use the photo for anything other than your Facebook, it’s best to get it in writing.
Now that you have your photos, what do you do with them? Most of us have turned to Facebook “fan” pages instead of having personal websites or trying to keep up with the myriad of cosplay sites on the internet. It’s a great place to showcase your images. What if you want more people to see all the hard work you put into your costume and photo shoot?
Some great sites to showcase your cosplay photos include:
There are also some geek blogs that love to post cosplay photos and it never hurts to submit to them:
- Geeks Are Sexy (or just email me! email@example.com)
- Nerd Reactor
- GPX Gaming (email Michelle / Stormraven at firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Almost Nerdy (another great Michelle (Simpson) handles their cosplay posts, email@example.com)
- Comics Alliance
- Game Informer (run by stellar costumers Meagan Marie)
When posting your photos online, it’s important to remember one simple rule: Give credit where it is due. Any time I post a photo, in addition to tagging the photographer, I make sure to thank anyone else involved in the shoot. Friends who may have contributed to parts of my costume, makeup artists, handlers, the guy who kept giving me tissues when we were shooting in the snow. Everyone deserves a thank you.
There have been times I’ve seen people, friends, post photos wearing my costumes or things I’ve helped them with and I’m not mentioned at all. It hurts. People like to feel included. People like to know their work, whatever part they played, is recognized. I want to build good relationships with the people I work with so we can continue making art together. Also, most of the time these people are my personal friends. I want them to know how much their help means to me.
With all these fantastic photos, you now have a legacy of your crazy hobby called cosplay. Just wait til you show your grand-kids how cool you were back in the day!