I want to start with a confession: I hate having my pictures taken!!! Since I was a child, every time I saw one of my pics, I looked horrible. My smile was weird, I was holding an ugly pose, my hair was out of control, I didn’t know what to do with my hands, just to mention a few things. As I grew older, I started taking more and more pics with friends but then I realized I was never pleased with any of them. Thankfully, internet wasn’t as popular then as it is now, until My Space started. (Yes, I’m that old). Unfortunately I still have some of those dreaded pictures, that constantly make me question my sanity at the moment.
Was I happy? Was I mad? Was I suffering? Did I lose a tooth?
- The I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-hands
Same pose. Almost same expression. Just a slight change in the position of the hands. And not even a significant or artistic one.
Being a size 3 and having a belly and tired shoulders didn’t match the amazing Hawaiian background.
When everything else fails, try a few sexy poses, unless it looks like you are extremely tired or drunk. The head tilt is a must (not!).
Enough with the silliness. Having a photographer partner and being surrounded by very talented models and cosplayers, helps you learn and understand better which poses and angles work better for you. Here are a few tips that will help you improve your cosplay poses for a more professional photo:
- Practice the vowels
Lots of people use the same facial expression for all the pictures and characters. In front of the mirror, try changing your lips position by practicing Aaaa—Eeee—Iiii—Oooo—Uuuu. See which ones work for surprise, happy, sexy, sad or angry. A small change like that would help you create a different feeling.
2. Avoid standing looking straight forward as much as you can.
If your character inevitably has a pose looking straight forward, I guess it’s unavoidable. But it’ll look more aesthetically pleasant and the pose will flow better, if the person is not posing directly in front of the camera. Also, if you are a curvy-licious woman like me, standing in an angle, makes your lines look more feminine and defined.
3. Chin Out! Arch that Back!
We never realized how many people can magically make a double chin appear, until you take a look at those pictures online from the last con or shoot. When we take pictures, we automatically tend to hide our face, tilt our heads back a little and let the chin have a moment of fame. Instead, move your head a little forward and up, like a bird trying to see outside its nest, and it’ll even help you look more like Han and less like Jabba.
4. Know your character.
I found it’s easier to portray a character if you actually know it and identify with it. I find myself constantly thinking what my next pose should be. I bought a long mirror and before a photoshoot or convention, I practice in front of the mirror. I learn my limitations and possibilities. For example, a few of the cosplays I’ve done more frequently is Jessica Rabbit, Morrigan and Sombra. So I’ve tried to think of new ways to pose with them. Remember, it’s different when you are posing with friends and having fun, but if you want a professional look on you pictures, you have to become the character.
5. Careful with your makeup and costume
Before a shoot, retouch your makeup. Not all photographers are going to spend extra time, fixing raccoon eyes and faded lipsticks or smeared body paint. Make sure you have good communication with your photographer and he can also let you know if there’s something that should be retouched. Also try to be careful with any holes on your clothes and rotate the angle of your props to hide imperfections.
(Difference between needing a retouch and a complete well-done makeup)
6. Use the Right Angle
One thing I learned in a bad way is that low angles make you look huge!!!! Unless the subject in the picture wants to look scary and menacing, avoid using low angles. It’s not flattering. (Low angle vs. medium high angle. Notice my belly and double chin?)
7. Make sure to use the right lighting.
Oh, beautiful celestial body that keeps us warm and toasty, sorry but I will avoid you for pictures! There’s a term among photographers called “the golden hour”. It’s a time before sunset that the lighting is perfect for pictures. Same thing in early hours of the morning. It looks beautiful and it requires almost no effort in editing. When you edit a picture, in a way you are trying to imitate that kind of lighting. Taking a picture in the middle of the day will just bring ALL of the little imperfections from the costumes and yourself to light. Also, direct sunlight casts different annoying shadows, very hard to edit. To avoid this, look for shade and use indirect sunlight or wait til the Golden Hour. 8. Photographers!! Give your model some time to pose and have a cue.
The more prepared we are for a photo, the less pictures the photographer will have to take. Sometimes we blink, make a weird face, are switching between poses, and that’s when the pictures is taken. Sometimes photoshoots are scheduled one after the other and there’s not time to lose or plan. Get to know each other and have a cordial communication.
9. Props are an extra touch, not the whole picture.
Be careful to not hide your face with the prop or any important part of your costume. Always make sure you practice your different poses with your props. Any weapon can have a different look depending on the direction where you point it at and the feeling you want to evoke. Make sure to let your photographer know beforehand the kind and size of props you are bringing, so he can be ready to make it part of the picture. It’s sad when some props are too big and don’t fit in the picture.
10. Remember to credit all the photographers and models in social media. After all, we all work together and we should support each other!
(Pictures in this blog were taken by Nerdcore Photo, MC Illusion Photography, and Mayhem Magazine)