Well the annual Albuquerque Comic Con (ACC) is right around the corner and chances are if you are attending (assuming you live anywhere near albuquerque and you’re into that kind of thing) you’re going to see a large number of photographers and regular patrons out with their DSLR’s, Smart Phones and point and shoot cameras taking pictures of everyone in a costume. I’ve shot quite a few of these comic book/anime conventions like the Albuquerque Comic Expo (ACE) and smaller ones like Con Jikan, and have seen other peoples photos from said conventions and I have noticed some trends in the photos taken at these events. Some of them good some of them bad and others are in the grey area of photography that is personal preference and style. So here I want to give some tips on how to get some of the best images at these conventions. (Note: These are all personal opinions on what you should do. I am in no way an authority on Con photography nor do I claim to be and the thing about photography is that we all find our personal styles and vision in the craft. I’m just giving you guide in what I like seeing in my personal images when I cover events like this)
Tip #1 Shoot Candidly.
Candid photography at these kinds of events is one of the most underrated styles of photos and people miss out on the opportunity of capturing rare moments that you’ll never get to see in regular day to day life. Where else are you going to capture Members of the Justice League mingling with the Avengers, Joker and Harley Quinn going up an escalator dressed as Batman and Robin or Rick from the Waking Dead eating a cheeseburger in a dining hall? The answer is nowhere else.
If you aren’t looking for candid shots however I’m going to let you in on a little secret: You don’t necessarily have to pull the cosplayers over. In my experience if you go around shooting at a convention if a cosplayer sees you have a camera pointed at them they’ll stop and pose for you. I know, crazy right? It’s quite the change of pace from candid shooting in public where if someone sees a camera pointed at them they get skittish and shy or sometimes even paranoid. It’s actually rather gratifying to know they want to have their photos taken. If you choose to shoot this way I would recommend using a short telephoto like and 85mm lens of even a 70-200 so you don’t have to be getting in their faces. It’s not a nessesaty, just a suggestion.
Tip #2: You don’t have to get the whole costume in frame
This is just a personal pet peeve of mine and I realize that not everyone agrees with me but I get annoyed when I see people get a mediumly wide shots of a cosplayer to get the entire costume frame. It throws off the composition, You’re getting a lot of things going on in the background that are going to be distracting and over all you just don’t get a very good photo. I might be guilty of overusing tight shots I will admit but once again a tighter shot helps keep your composition clean and makes it easier to blow out the background. Now I know many cosplayers will spend weeks and sometimes even months putting their costumes together and they want to show off their work but if they really want to show off they’ll get a photographer to do more professional portraits in them as opposed to just getting images done on the convention floor.
Tip #3 Publish and Share
These days copyright and having images stolen or appropriated is a problem, and sharing them online on places like Flickr or Facebook can be a little risky but in my experience putting the images up and letting people find and tag themselves in their photos has been a huge help in getting my images out there and letting people see my work, and more often than not the response has been incredibly positive. Sure a lot of the times people will only praise the subject in the photo and not the person who took it but if you do quality work people will recognize that and appreciate that and that leads to networking and establishing credibility.
These have just been a couple of tips that you can take to heart if you ever find yourself shooting at a convention. Feel free to try them, or ignore them as you see fit but remember that the important thing is to go and shoot. These Conventions can be fun, exciting and even exhausting but you can get amazing images and meet unique people that you won’t find anywhere else. I look forward to seeing what ACC has in stores for me and am looking forward to getting more images to add to my portfolio. If you are attending I hope to see you there and if you ever get the chance to shoot at a convention I would encourage you to do so. It can be incredibly rewarding.