This past weekend I attended Denver Comic Con. It was 50,000 people at the Colorado Convention Center and it was filled with people of every imaginable variety. It was a real joy to interact with artists, vendors, cosplayers and attendees.
But I was also interested to see how people behaved and reacted in light of the great attention given to “Cosplay is not Consent” this year. I’ve seen women treated like trash at con’s before. It’s disgusting. And people are starting to stand up and let it be known that this is unacceptable conduct. DCC had a panel on cosplay and etiquette as well. And I’m happy to say that I didn’t see any of this kind of behavior even in a throng as large as this.
Well done, Colorado!
But then there is me. I’m a photographer, with a media access badge for the con. I’m here not only to document and report on what’s going on, but to get some great shots of the passionate work of cosplayers. They put a lot of time, money, passion and sweat into producing fine costumes, planning, makeup, etc… Many even work on their characters so that it is a bit more than a costume. So, how do you get really great cosplay portraits in an environment where conduct is being measured to a new standard?
Simple, actually. You see, it’s not a new standard. Treating people (especially women in this case) with respect is something that society did, and then forgot how to do. Simply think back to days when people always said “please” and “thank you”. When a man held a door for a woman to honor her and nothing more.
So, I got some great shots! I always asked “May I take your photo?” And every now and then, I got a “no”. “Okay, thank you!” Sincerely. And after taking it I judged whether or not the seemed to be in a hurry, or were a bit bothered by being stopped. Or how they reacted to some simple posing direction I gave. If they seemed open and unhurried and it their costume was obviously a work of love on their part, and they had cared about their hair and makeup, well, I’d ask again “Would you mind if I took a few portraits?” And I used the word “portrait”. Not photo or shots or pictures. Portraits implies something more personal. Not a picture of your costume, a picture of you.
Not one person turned me down. Not one.
Kindness. Courtesy. Please. Thank you. May I… Very nice! Beautiful!
Most cosplayers want to show off. They are great. But it’s your demeanor as a photographer that can make the difference in getting a great shot and getting a snapshot.
Next year, I’ll ask more often. I’ll prepare more. I’ll really think about the costumes I’m likely to see and how I would like to photograph them. I’ll think about how I can be a true gentleman and put complete strangers at ease. Because, in the end, that’s the shot I want.