Adrian Song, aka Songster69, started learning about photography way back in his school days, when he was shooting in black and white, using his storeroom for processing, only to come to a hiatus when he graduated.
But it all started again after being invited by a friend of his to a cosplay event, followed by several other events, making many acquaintances along the way. For someone who’s into photography just as a hobby, he’s certainly a talent among cosplay photographers, and he also draws his inspiration and advice from his father, who’s a freelance photographer. He went from Singapore to Tokyo, to Comiket 77, the largest handmade comic book fair in the world, and he recalled for us some of his impressions about the event, from both a photographer’s point of view, as well as a foreigner’s point of view.
After hearing a lot about Comiket, I finally visited the Tokyo Big Sight for Comiket 77 in 2009, while holidaying in Japan with my Otaku friends. Getting off from the train, we were greeted by the epically huge crowd that can be seen from the station about five minutes away.
Upon joining the queue, we were organized into groups and ushered into the halls. The first thing I learnt about visiting Comiket was that you should get an event guide, so that you’ll know where to go to get your stuff unless you’re okay with wandering the four huge halls like I did. Secondly, you have to be patient; a lot of time is spent queuing and waiting. However, crowd control is much organised and your experience will be a blast as long you follow the usher’s instructions.
As a first timer, I decided to get lost in the doujin halls before going to the cosplay area for some fresh winter air. The venue is a short walk away from the halls and hard to miss; follow any cosplayer and you’ll reach it. From the awesome experience, here are some tips, pointers and observations about the Comiket cosplay event:
Cosplaying within boundaries
Barriers were set up to demarcate the cosplay venue, and also to help visitors find the place. Photography and cosplay must be contained within, but if one forgets, there are always the friendly event staff and security personnel to politely remind you to keep within the designated areas.
Ask and you shall receive
Want awesome photos? Then ask. The trick is to ask politely to take pictures of them. Usually the cosplayers will oblige, unless they are in the process of adjusting their costumes; if that’s the case, they will request that you wait. When joining a massive group or the infamous “wall of photographers”, try to get their attention by saying “excuse me” in Japanese and they will glance and pose in your direction. And always
remember to thank the cosplayers after that.
Japanese culture is based on order and structure, so don’t be surprised if you need to queue up to take photos of cosplayers. I found this system really good, as it allows you to communicate one-to-one with the cosplayers while they try to pose their best. In such situations, also exercise some discretion, as the guys queuing behind you may not say anything, but may be freezing in the queue.
Print some name-cards or “meishi”, as they are called in Japanese, if you want to send cosplayers their pictures. More often than not, they will give you theirs to stay in touch. Pity I didn’t print any this time round. Well, always next time!
Given the large turnout of cosplayers and photographers alike, expect to see event staff appearing next to a wall of photographers and politely breaking up the wall after twenty minutes or so after it’s been formed. This is both a form of crowd control, and of enabling cosplayers to move to a rest area while another cosplayer steps into the limelight. So that’s my Comiket cosplay experience, damn I so want to go back! *Starts planning for next trip*
Article and photos by Adrian Song