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Five New Ways to Photograph Your Next Cosplay Photo Shoot

February 27, 2014
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As artists, we are designed to crave something new. Whether it is experience, knowledge, or skills, we are always looking for that next thing to try, to experiment, and to see what we can create that will make us exclaim, “Whoa, that is epic!” But as creative as you are, sometimes we all need a little inspiration to kick-start our imagination. “Where would I go and find that inspiration?”, you ask. Well fret not, because we are here to give you five new ways you can photograph your next cosplay photoshoot. Best part about these? You can try them with any camera, no DSLR required :)

Intrigued? Let’s get the ball rolling:

I. Brenizer Method / Panorama

What? Why??

By now you should have plenty of experience shooting single shot cosplay photos. This is perfectly normal, but sometimes the “oomph” just isn’t there. Good news: you can stitch multiple shots into one panorama picture, and it works with cosplay photos too! And if you have a wide aperture lens, you can even kick it up a notch and attempt something even more daring: introducing the not-so-new-technique widely known as the “Brenizer Method”, where you stitch wide aperture shots together and create ultra-bokeh photos like no other.

How???

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Panoramic Stitch – 50mm Lens

Even smartphones nowadays have a built-in function to stitch together a panorama so the steps are really quite easy.

  1. Compose your shot – figure out what scene you want to include
  2. Set your settings – expose for your scene correctly first, then set your camera to manual so the settings stay consistent for all the frames you capture
  3. Make sure your subjects stand still – give them a count down, and have them stay still while you take all the shots you need
  4. Shoot the frames – figure out the “route” you want to snap your photos so you include everything you want in the frame. Make sure you don’t move either while capturing these frames! A tripod is useful.
  5. Do multiple takes – like single frame shots, the more takes you do, the more options you have later when you post process.

For those who want to attempt the Brenizer Method, the steps are pretty much the same, but here are some tips:

  1. Shoot wide open – you have that wide aperture lens for a reason, push it to its limit! This is how you can get that über-bokeh in your final stitch.
  2. Get in close – depending on what you want to capture, you can get even more of that creamy bokeh by getting close to your subject and decrease that depth of field in your photos

For a more detailed description on the Brenizer Method, check out Richard Bui’s blog.

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Brenizer Method shot

That’s it! The post processing is as simple as dumping all the frames into any stitching program you can find. With some proper cropping afterwards, your shots should look pretty panoramic and bokeh-y. Any post work should be done after the stitching, not on the individual images used for stitching.

II. Shooting Through Glass / Window

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What? Why??

Ever seen fashion photos with glare or some gradient overlay that make the shots more interesting? That’s the whole point of shooting through glass/window: introduce more interesting effect to your shots. The easy way out is (of course) doing that in the post-processing, but for something simple like this, why not attempt it in real life?

How???

It’s easy: grab a piece of glass or find a clear window to shoot through with. Adjust the angle if you have the control, and just shoot away.

III. Golden Hour

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Panoramic stitch shot during sunset, by Beethy

What? Why??

Golden Hour is “the first and last hour of sunlight during the day”. The quality of sunlight is extremely pleasing and “golden” during these hours, thus the reason why it’s highly sought after by portrait and landscape photographers around the world. But due to it only existing 2 hours in each good day, timing becomes much more important than anything.

How???

Well, it’s simple: figure out when sunrise/sunset is and shoot at those times.

IV. Silhouette

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What? Why??

By now you probably have seen many epic cosplays that have very distinct and interesting “frames”. We all know it’s fun to capture all the detail of said epicness in your shot, and what you can do to bring it to another level is to add a bit more mystery. By introducing hard contrast and underexposing your subject, you can do exactly that: create an aura of mystery and drama to the awesome that is before your eyes.

How???

It’s important to have strong light coming from behind your subjects. After you find an ideal location/setup with strong backlight, all you need to do is expose for the light which in turn will underexpose your subject, creating that silhouette look. Direct your subject into an epic pose that accentuates the silhouette of the character and snap away. You can shoot a silhouette during golden hour for combined awesomeness.

V. Photo Story

Faces of Cosplay is a project that focuses on the personality underneath each cosplay

Faces of Cosplay is a project that focuses on the personality underneath each cosplay

What? Why??

Believe it or not, the technical aspect of photography is easy. What truly separates awesome photographers from good photographers is whether they can embed drama, stories, personality, character, mood, and meaning into their photographs. Such a feat is the pinnacle of any artistry, but one thing any creative mind can do is to use multiple “frames” in a series to tell that story, and to give depth to work that he or she is creating. This is how you can bring more depth and meaning to your photographs of cosplays and characters.

How???

Execution is easy, but figuring out what you want to capture to tell your story could drive you nuts. And that’s exactly it: taking your photography to the next level; go beyond technicality and dive into the content you are creating; “What story are you trying to tell?” If you don’t have the patience to do a series of shoots over time for a single story, you can make a diptych or triptych to tell your story in just a few frames.

Time to Experiment

We are starting to see more of these techniques employed in the cosplay photography world and it is exciting to find new ways to make cosplay photos stand out even more than they ever did. We hope to have shared a couple new tips with you in this article, but more importantly, we look forward to seeing more of your work in the cosplay photography-sphere. With that said, have you tried any of these techniques? Do you have any tips, or other interesting techniques to share? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to “like” us on Facebook for up-to-date cosplay photography discussion, tips, and news.

If you found this article interesting, be sure to join our Facebook group, Cosplay Photography Discussion Group. It is a place for cosplay photographers of all levels to learn from each other. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook as well!

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I am a Seattle, WA based lifestyle fashion photographer who has Cosplay to thank for his adventure into the photography world. In addition to fashion, I also maintain Costographer as my cosplay work outlet: http://facebook.com/costographer

1 Comments

  1. thank you for the tips, the Panoramic Stitching seems very interesting!

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