This week, I wanted to cover some simple tips for preparing for a photoshoot and working with a photographer. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just some tips I wish I had known before my first shoot.
POINT YOUR CHIN: This is the simplest and most effective way to make your photos look amazing. By extending your chin just slightly out from your neck, it gives the appearance of a thinner face and more shape to your jaw and neckline. There’s some excellent articles on techniques to get it just right, but I always end up thinking of my head like a chicken or pigeon, with the sort of extending bob. Sounds crazy, but makes all the difference.
Look up poses/Come with background: This is just a major time-saver, especially when meeting with multiple photographers. Most people won’t have the detailed interest and love of the character you’re cosplaying, so having a general idea of how they sit, run, fight, etc will make it clear to both of you what you might be imagining. Do this well in advance, if you can, so there’s time to think about options. Who is this character? Where are they from? Describe their personality. What is their role in that universe and why do they wear their costume? I find that looking at the character in all circumstances (ex: Shepard from Mass Effect not just fighting in the field but also relaxing on the ship) helps give some variation and depth to a shoot.
Communicate! It's key to any relationship! Make sure to listen to your photographer when coached. Keep in mind to be flexible on changing things up and work with them to find that perfect shot! Let them know if ideas on what might work, if you need to take a break, if things aren't working, etc. Be polite and professional, but don't be afraid to be silly as well! Having fun is important!
It’s OK to say no: At the same time though, do not be afraid to speak up or say no if you’re uncomfortable doing something. You are in control of your body, what you show off, and how you portray yourself. If your photographer is pressuring you to do something you find too intimate, it is perfectly fine to turn them down, and to leave if they continue. Cosplay is not consent.
Many “cool” poses do not feel natural: “Turn your head. A little more to the right. Now put your left leg right here…” Photographers see you from the outside, and will many times instruct you to balance on an oddly high ledge in a strange game of Twister. I’ve personally left photoshoots exhausted after holding low squats for mid-combat shots or my arms sore from keeping a weapon up for pose after pose. If anything, it’s been some inspiration to train a little harder! While you’re at it, make sure to practice your faces in the mirror. It’s good to know what looks angry as compared to constipated or confused.
Deciding on a location: Less important for some situations, but this goes along the same lines and preparing poses. Always keep an eye out for locations and backgrounds that might fit your character. You'll find the best spots are where you least expect them, like a flower display at a store or the futuristic look of metalwork in an entryway... (See image)