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Photoshoots With A Twist

You might have heard or participated in a walking photography tour or perhaps hired a photographer to take photographs of you while visiting a different city or doing an incredible activity but have you ever done a cosplay photoshoot?

Cosplay Photoshoot © Vanitystudios

Photoshoots With A Twist

What is a Cosplay Photoshoot? I hear you ask..

Cosplay can be traced back to sci-fi fans donning costumes in New York for the First World Science Fiction Convention in 1939, although the term cosplay wasn’t coined until the mid-eighties.

Grownups playing dress-up isn’t anything new: Masquerade Balls have been around since the 15th century, Mardi Gras is thought to have its roots in pre-Christian Roman celebrations such as Saturnalia, and then there’s Halloween.

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 fans. After all, you’ve put time, money and effort into making your costume look amazing, so why not show it off?

Taking photos for fun is very different to taking them for a work portfolio. Maybe you just want to get together with some friends and capture a few fun memories. This can be pretty relaxed, silly and involve getting people into humorous poses.

Characters from anime, cartoons, comic books, manga, television series, movies and video games all serve as inspiration in one of the world’s most lucrative portmanteaus: the global costume play or cosplay market has grown to be worth over $4.6Bn as of 2020 (1).

Cosplay Photoshoot © Vanitystudios

The great thing about cosplay is the feeling of being someone else. 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.

Putting together a portfolio for your website or other gig work requires a bit more thought and preparation. You need to show your costume from all angles and in the best lighting to demonstrate its quality and accuracy.

Cosplay Photoshoot Top Tips

By Emeka Ikechi at Vanity Studios

Remember your bits and bobs

What is Captain America with his shield, Thor without Mjölnir, Wonder Woman without the Lasso of Truth or Cloud Strife without his Buster Sword?

Getting everything right for a photoshoot 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.

Makeup is important

As well as authentic costumes and accessories, make-up is often essential to look the part. Dr Strange just wouldn’t look the same without his iconic beard, Thanos needs that chin, and you’ll need a lot of blue face paint to look like Halo’s Cortana.

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.

Find 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 photoshoot.

Instead of having Lara Croft simply standing in front of the camera, you could try jumping through the air shooting, for example. Or what about having your Superman fly over the Metropolis skyline 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!

Backgrounds can be key

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 Mario World.

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.

Take lots of shots, then take more

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 photoshoot 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.

Whatever you decide to do for your photoshoot, make sure you have fun and use a photographer who can capture some high-quality shots. The last thing you want is to go to all that effort only to have the photos poorly lit, shot from the wrong angle, or end up with low-quality images that you can’t print out. Otherwise, play around, have fun, and try things out ─ there are no wrong answers!


Emeka Ikechi VANITY STUDIOS bw ©Vanity Studios

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



Have you travelled to a comic con event? Would love to hear all about it!


While travelling in Kyoto, Japan you may like to be a Geisha for a day? Discover more in the A to Z Travel Blog - Japan.

Photograph of Michelle from M D Harding Travel Photography ©MDHarding


Visiting the Venice Carnival? Did you know you can hire costumes and attend the glamours balls?

Venice Carnival ©MDHarding

Other costume photography opportunities;

The Georgian House in Edinburgh has a wide range of costume options. Located in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. Built-in the late 1700s, the grand Georgian House is part of the National Trust for Scotland. One of Edinburgh's grand new townhouses that were designed by Robert Adam. Today the restored building is home to a fine collection of paintings and period furnishings. Well worth a visit!

At the Battle of Bannockburn visitor centre, you can also don helmets, chainmail and get your hands on some replica weapons too!

While visiting Scotland, you may like to team up with a destination expert and have an authentic photography tour experience? These include digital on-the-day photographs, local and traditional food tastings plus local knowledge. Get in touch today with M D Harding Travel Photography.

"Thank you so much for the incredible tour and hospitality, it was the highlight of our Scotland visit".

I hope you enjoyed reading and are inspired to enjoy a fun photoshoot experience. Have you enjoyed one of the photoshoot experiences mentioned? What was your highlight? I would love to hear. Get in touch via email, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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