Whether it is your first time attending a cosplay convention, or if you’ve been going to such events for years, no matter if you are a photographer or a cosplayer, there are some basic “Do”-s and “Don’t”-s that remain true and very real, although they are mainly unspoken rules. Nothing can spoil a day more than having someone step on your long dress or having a part of your camera chipped off because of irresponsible people. Worst still, people leaving their trash around or turning public toilets into a complete mess will only tarnish the reputation of fellow cosplayers.
Hence, as a public service message to cosplayers and cosplay photographers alike, here are some simple “Do”-s and “Don’t”-s to follow. Not only they will allow you to have a better time at such conventions, but you will also gain the respect of others and make more friends.
(Disclaimer: While I have spoken to many cosplayers/photographers from different regions regarding these points, the fact remains that most conventions vary from country to country. However, while they do differ, these “Do”-s and “Don’t”-s still apply if you want to be acknowledged for the right reasons).
1. Be friendly and polite to the general public.
You can be surprised at how incredibly rude some cosplayers/cosplay photographers can be at cosplay conventions. I have seen cosplayers who not only reject/ignore a request for a photo, but they are also rude while doing so. When you wear a costume, you bear the responsibility of representing the cosplay community; how you behave and act reflects as such on the public perception of the community as a whole. Cosplayers, however, are not the only culprits in this sense. Photographers jostle and push, intentionally stepping into the paths of other photographers or just refusing to budge from their spot, depriving the general public of a chance to shoot.
Cosplayers: If someone asks you for a photo, try to say yes. People found the courage to walk up to you to ask, so the least you could do is say yes gracefully, and let them take a photo with you (especially children!). It might not mean much to you, but it could mean a whole lot to them. If you are in the middle of touching up or trying to repair your prop, tell them to come back later, but remember to honour that request! When you feel tired of posing, give a bow and say thank you instead of just walking off. Always remember this: you are the image of what the public perceives as your cosplay community; I’m pretty sure you do not want to be associated to a bunch of douche bags; don’t turn the community into that!
Cosplay photographers: Most photographers should know by now: there are usually those few “spots” that can offer you a decent photo. These spots are also limited, and when a “wall of photographers” forms up, things can get pretty hectic. Take your shot and move away, and be gracious enough to let others use that spot as well. More often than not, members of the public are unable to even get a decent shot without having a gazillion of photographers in their photos. Besides, even if you didn’t manage to take the shot, most cosplayers are actually willing to pose for you again after they take a break (of course, if you ask them politely).
2. Give credit where credit is due!
If you create a work of art and someone steals it for themselves, you surely wouldn’t like it. Giving credit where credit is due is one of the most often ignored/underrated facts in cosplay. Examples can range from cosplayers who do not thank photographers for taking their photos, up to photographers who do not bother to thank cosplayers for posing for them. This isn’t just about mentioning the cosplayer’s name when you post up your photo of them; a little “Thank You” goes a long way and makes people feel good about the effort they put in, cosplayers and photographers alike.
Cosplayers: You’ve gone though a lot of effort to get your costume going, but that doesn’t mean there is no effort on the part of the photographer to carry his/her gear down to take photos for you. If you do eventually use a photo taken by a photographer, do credit him/her. Do try to find out who was the photographer who took that nice portrait of you and if you like his work, ask him along for a future shoot! Most photographers just want recognition for their work; nothing brings a bigger smile on a photographer’s face than a pat on the back and a simple “Thanks”.
Cosplay photographers: I know this is a touchy topic among various parties, but my belief is that the photo belongs to the joined efforts of the cosplayer and the photographer. As much as you want recognition from the cosplayers, they’d want some recognition as well. Always credit the models. Being shy is not an excuse to not walk up to the cosplayer and simply ask who to credit this photo to. It takes two hands to clap; if you like what you see, walk up, introduce yourself and compliment the cosplayer for a well done job. They’ll appreciate it. Not only do you get to show your appreciation, but you also get to make more friends in the process.
1. DON’T take “unglamorous” photos or outright “ugly” photos of cosplayers
This particular “Don’t” applies mostly to photographers. Almost EVERY cosplayer I spoke to mentioned this: nothing pisses them off more than finding a photo of them yawning, or a photo of themselves adjusting their wigs, posted on a public forum for everyone to see. This is neither a matter of personal pride, nor of having to look good all the time; it’s more about respecting another person’s privacy.
Cosplayers: In more cases than not, the photographers are the ones who must behave responsibly with their cameras. There are times, however, when cosplayers actually (inadvertently or not) open themselves up to trouble. The solution? Prevention is always better than cure. There are a few things one can do to avoid it. If there is a need, for example, to adjust a wig, you could go to a restroom or get your friends to block you while you adjust it. There are dozens of other methods that can prevent nosy photographers from getting a shot during those moments; too many to list in here. But the message is the same: If you can, prevent it.
Cosplay Photographers: As mentioned previously, whether the cosplayer is opened to such situations or not, the photographers are those responsible NOT to take such photos. The most common excuse for taking such photos is under the guise of “Omake” or “Fun” shots. Yes, some would say that I take a lot of such shots, to the point where I’ve been nicknamed “Omake-sama”. Yet, there are two key differences in my photos. The first is that I actually let the cosplayers SEE them, and ask for their permission to post them. The second is the fact that the punch-line of the photos is in their actions, and not the fact that they look ugly doing it. As an example, look at Photos A and B. Photo A is a picture of me PRETENDING to dig my nose in, while Photo B is a photo of me actually trying to dig my nose in. A is funny, B MIGHT be funny to you, but it surely won’t be funny to the subject. Have some consideration when you post up such photos and always remember to ask permission. If you don’t know the person, this should NOT be an excuse for you to post up such photos without permission.
2. DON’T leave rubbish all over
Most would think this is common sense. But yet, this is another common complaint. Cosplayers and photographers alike are leaving trash all over the place in the aftermath of a convention. Trash, however, is not limited to typical domestic rubbish like plastic bags or empty cans. I heard stories of toilets that had cut wig hair strewn all over the place, clogging up sinks; or pieces of destroyed props thrown all over the main convention area. And the list goes on.
Cosplayers & photographers: While there will be cleaners at the end of a convention to help clean up the place after the event, we, as responsible people, should NOT add to their job. Throw your rubbish in the right places. The best thing to do is to REDUCE the waste in the first place. After packing up and getting ready to leave the convention area, the very least you can do is check your area for any rubbish that might have been left behind; keep the place clean for others to use!
Granted, these are just a couple of the MANY other “Do”-s and “Don’t”-s, such as: be careful of where you walk, behave responsibly while in public, be aware of other countries’ customs and practices. The list can go on and on. These four tips, however, are the first few steps you can take to make your overall experience more enjoyable. Nevertheless, the best tip is to remember to always have fun at conventions and remember to make more friends!