Make cosplay child’s play – 5 tips for a cosplay photoshoot

By Emeka Ikechi, Director, Vanity Studios

Kids love to play dress up. And so do many parents. Masquerade Balls, Mardi Gras, the Notting Hill Carnival and Halloween are just a few of the opportunities grown-ups take to get into costume. And one of the most lucrative dress up activities is cosplaying. Once a niche interest, cosplay is now a global phenomenon. Fuelled by the rise of the superhero blockbuster, the Star Wars and Star Trek movies and series, fantasy films and TV shows such as Lord of the Rings and The Witcher, plus countless game franchises, the global cosplay costumes market has grown to be worth over $4.6Bn as of 2020 (1).

The great thing about cosplay is the feeling of being someone else, and exhibitions like Comic Con provide a playground where these costumes can be admired by other fans. Comic Con and other exhibitions can also provide an income for those who get really into cosplay, with many serious cosplayers charging fees for photos or appearances.

Whether you cosplay for fun, or for gig work, a photoshoot can be the perfect way to capture the moment and share it with friends and/or fans. But how do you ensure that your photoshoot looks as good as your costume? Here are a five top tips:

1. Accessories are important

What is Wonder Woman without the Lasso of Truth and her Bracelets of Submission or Lara Croft without her double holster?

Getting everything right for a photo shoot means having both the costume and accessories look perfect. While small issues can always be covered up with some editing, it’s hard to add authentic-looking accessories.

If you are looking for paid work from your cosplay, it’s even more important that you have all the accessories and that your costume looks as authentic as possible. It’s the authenticity and quality of the costumes and accessories that will either make or break your cosplay career.

2. Get your makeup right

As well as authentic costumes and accessories, make-up is often essential to look the part. Bright red lipstick gets you Poison Ivy lips, and a little artful use of eyeliner with give you Faith Connors’s eye tattoo, but one eyeliner pencil won’t be enough for the Proxima Midnight look, and you’ll require a lot of blue face paint to look like Halo’s Cortana, or green if you’re Gamora, or She-Hulk.

A good studio will be able to help touch up your make-up, so it looks just right, capturing the essence of the character without becoming too much. Of course, you might need to think about lighting as well: blue face paint would look wrong under a red light, for example.

3. Pay attention to the background

While the attention should be squarely on you and your amazing cosplay, the background you choose can really help enhance your photos by turning a shot into a scene. Add some action with some aliens attacking New York (when are they not?) or set the scene with a background from Assassin’s Creed.

As with props and poses, backgrounds need some preparation in order to look right. They will need to be big and detailed enough to work for the photo but not so busy and colourful that they detract from your costume. It is what you want to show off, after all.

4. Don’t be shy about taking plenty of shots

It doesn’t matter how skilled or experienced the photographer is, it is always hard to know exactly what will and won’t work in a photo. What seems like a great idea on paper can look cheesy or clichéd in reality. But that’s okay ─ the idea is to play around and have fun.

The easiest way to ensure you get the best from your photo shoot is to take lots of varied pictures in different poses and styles, with different backgrounds and accessories, giving you plenty of options.

If you are looking for gig work, a variety of photos can also stimulate your client’s imaginations, giving them lots of ideas for potential photos or scenes for you to act out.

5. Work with a professional who understands cosplay

Speaking of studios, working with a professional photographer who really understands cosplay and the characters you are portraying can definitely help. Professionals know not only how to capture the right angles and poses but will also come up with ideas of how to enhance the photo shoot.

Instead of having Black Widow simply standing in front of the camera, you could try jumping through the air shooting some Widow’s Bites, for example. Or what about having your Harley Quinn wielding her bat rather than simply sitting on a chair?

These effects take a bit of thought and some extras to make look right ─ just the kind of thing that a professional can prepare!


Emeka Ikechi is Director of Vanity Studios, a contemporary studio for photoshoots in the centre of Shoreditch in London. Since 2009 Vanity Studios has been providing clients with high quality professional photos and an excellent photoshoot experience. The team of photographers and make-up artists ensure each client receives bespoke photography that meets their requirements.


Instagram:       @vanitystudiosuk

Facebook:       @vanitystudiosuk

Twitter:           @vanitystudiosuk



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