When it comes to cosplay, I often joke “if you didn’t get any photos in the costume, did you really wear it at all?” Photography is the medium that makes the ‘temporary art’ of cosplay permanent, since it's not as though we can stay in our costumes constantly! Normally one would collaborate with a photographer to memorialize a costume, but many cosplayers are opting to learn self-portraiture and have friends or partners snap pics their instead. But why the heck are cosplayers picking up yet ANOTHER time-consuming hobby? When this question was posed to my Twitter followers, a trend of six distinct reasons kept coming up.
In all of these poses, my right hand is hiding a remote for my camera!
1 - Affordability
Flat out, cosplay is a luxury hobby. It's time-consuming, materials are expensive, cons and events are pricey, so by the time a costume has been completed, a cosplayer’s wallet may be hurtin’. Many cosplayers cite that while they respect a photographer’s skill and price, it’s simply out of their budget to do more than a few shoots a year. In fact, for the average cost of a single cosplay photoshoot, plus the rights to produce prints, you could buy yourself a beginner piece of equipment, or save towards a nice camera or lens. The long term investment pays off, especially for those doing multiple shoots a month.
@msginnyliz I don't usually have a ton of money to pay my photog friends what they're worth.
@koumori_no_hime I couldn't afford to book as many shoots as I had costumes.
2 - Accessibility and Convenience
Many cosplayers or models work constantly to produce new content and promote their brand, so having a flexible friend or partner, or an in-home studio that you can work with at the drop of a hat is highly beneficial. It also combats issues of scheduling and availability conflicts with busy photographers. Other cosplayers also remarked that they don’t go to cons very often, or don't have many local photogs, so rather than wait or be forced to travel far, having the ability to do a shoot right at your fingertips is especially empowering.
@arabella_fae I can't drive, so getting to shoots can be somewhat difficult.
@misskoumori I have a couple faves that I still work with, but some live hundreds of miles away.
3 - Complete Creative Control
Cosplayers often have specific visions for a finished project, but often find that not all photographers share the stylistic choices as them. While artistic collaboration can be a beautiful thing, some cosplayers prefer having creative command of a shoot, and control over post-editing. Also, because the part of the final product is literally one’s body, it can be discouraging to receive photos with unflattering angles, awkward poses, or unsatisfactory editing jobs, so some would rather skip that disappointment and discomfort and just make photos that they can feel confident about!
@kazeninja17 I want to start doing my own photos because I feel like I'd have more control.
"It's all about Me Me Me and my imagination!"
4 - Timely Content, and Lots of It!
As the old man in Toy Story 2 will tell you, “Ya can’t rush art”, but many cosplayers have become discouraged with long turnaround times of photographers, and disappointing results. Backlogs, computer crashes, day jobs- we get it. Life happens. But sometimes even paid photographers do not deliver their product in a timely manner (or at all!), leaving cosplayers frustrated at a lack of new content and behind on trends or posting schedules. So rather than solely count on photogs to provide pics, cosplayers have started snapping their own! Plus, there’s no limit to how many photos you can get back!
@alexandriathered The wait for edits (even paid shoots) often sabotaged my release schedule.
@sirynrae I got tired of waiting. Waiting for availability, waiting for pictures. Now I do shoots when I have a spare few hours and edit 3x as many photos as I used to get.