June 1, 2015

Should I offer to do (paid) cosplay photoshoots at cons?

So yeah, what is this?
Well, it's exactly what it sounds like, but I'll explain anyway!

For a long time now I've been noticing that some of my friends, along with some other congoers have, along the years, been asking me to photograph their cosplays more and more often at cons. People seem to appreciate my photography skills, although I can't claim to be a professional or anything of the sort, but I'm not a camera-know-nothing either! I've gone a photography course in school (that I got the best possible grade in) and I don't really think that people constantly compliment my photos for no reason either.
I do have an artistic eye and I'm willing to try new and crazy ideas
to get good and unique shots – I mean, photography is a form of art as well! 
Yep, so while most people know me as a cosplayer I am a photographer as well.

So yeah, the thought of doing some kind of more "official/public post" about the fact that I'm open for cosplay photography at cons has been lingering around in my head for months, maybe even years. Yep, I'm basically saying that it would very well be possible to hire me to be the camera man for you!
Just don't have any super unrealistic expectations I'm a hobbyist who loves photography, not a professional who does it for a living. At least not yet, hahah.
I can also offer to do the photo post-processing (aka editing) if you either can't do it or don't feel like doing it for whatever reason.

Just showing my current camera!
You can see a few photo examples of my work over at Hasakitsuki's and FankiKitsune's blogs etc. Don't take these as a limit to what I'm capable of though, just as general examples I can and am willing to try many new things, the sky's the limit! I'm constantly improving and trying to challenge myself! (note: all these photos were taken back when I only had the default Nikon 18-55mm f/3,5-5,6G lens)

I don't have any assistants though so it's a bit limited what I can do, because I assume that I'd be photographing alone most of the time. :/ It would be convenient to have an assistant... But nonetheless I'm all up for helping any cosplayers (everyone is welcome!) getting photos of their costumes and improving my camera skills along the way! Win-win!

But then... there is that last question, the one that is rather touchy to bring up should I or should I not charge for my service?

I've gotten the impression that there is quite a lot of talk about this and mostly in a negative tone. People, especially cosplayers, seemingly expect all photographers to always work for free (because their friends and some others photograph them for free) and if they charge then they are stupid or just not worth it. We photographers do find it fun to photograph but just because we enjoy it doesn't mean that we should always do it for free, now should we? It's kind of the same as expecting wig stylers/commissioners to style your cosplay wigs for free because they find it fun and are good at it. Same thing with art commissions etc. See where this is going?

In a way I feel like it's a bit too much to ask for any really proper payment because I don't have any high-class education or anything that would justify me charging money for my time and besides, most congoers are young people who probably don't really have much money to spend and might not be willing to pay a photographer...?
But at the same time I don't think it's all wrong to ask for a small sum ("vaivanpalkka" as we say in Finnish, if nothing else) for a photo session say, for example 5 € with a minimum duration of approximately 1 hour, or is it?
From a general standpoint the thing with paying a photographer is that they would be willing to shoot anyone, not just their best friends. So would I if you pay me I will photograph you to the best of my abilities, no matter if you started cosplay yesterday or if you've been at it for years; I won't shut down anyone's offer. I will also make sure that you like the outcome (aka taken photos) before I call it quit for the day.
Also, speaking generally again, if you pay it shows the photographer that you are serious, value their work and that you are interested in getting good photos of yourself and that you are damn likely to show up during the planned time too. And of course the photographer will "pay you back" by sending you the final photos in a timely manner, doing their best to make sure that both are satisfied etc. I think that charging a fee –even if it's a small one is a way to make a sort of contract that both the photographer and the cosplayer will do their best to make the experience as hassle-free and pleasant for both parties.

Sorry for this post being a bit fuzzy and all over the place, but I guess you understand what I'm trying to get at. >°< By the way, if you are curious there's a very good post here about why some cosplay photographers charge for their time and I think that it's definitely worth a read!

I really don't mean it to come off the wrong way; it's just that when you do your work it's nice to get something back in return – I think everyone agrees on that. It doesn't even have to be money! Yeah I know, it's not really my "work" because I am a hobby photographer but it's still something I pour my heart and passion into and I do make sure that everyone I take photos of is satisfied with the final product.. even if I end up standing behind the camera longer than planned.

I really want to hear your thoughts on this!
Should I charge for photoshooting someone or not and, if I should, how much do you think is a reasonable price for a non-pro/hobbyist/aspiring photographer?
Suggestions welcome don't be afraid to tell me what you have in mind! Would you be willing to pay a con/cosplay photographer in general, if at all? What reasons/criterias would you have?

Whatever the outcome is I am available, in case some cosplayer out there wants nice photos and doesn't have a camera savvy friend around and well, I happen to attend the same convention and they happen to read this. :) Just contact me either by commenting on this post or, preferably, by sending me an email. My contact email can be found to the left on the blog!

That's all for this time. 
I would really appreciate any comments regarding this, even if spoken from a general standpoint and not targeted at me. :) I'd love to hear your opinions!
Depending a bit on what feedback I get I'll make a follow-up post.

Thank you for reading! Bai bai ~


Anonymous said...

I definitely think you should be able to charge without feeling bad about it. People are silly to expect services for free. I don't care if it's a hot topic, cosplayers who think photographers should work for free are brats.

I can't really tell you how much you should charge. I'm not sure what is "normal" and it should really be up to you. (Probably less than professionals, since you claim you are not at that level yet.) I think it'd be a good for you to come up with a price for a 30 minute time slot with a guarantee of say 5 edited photos (or whatever you want to do, this is just an example of what I have seen) and advertise in the fb threads for cons for people to reserve time slots (I've seen photographers require a small nonrefundable deposit via paypal to reserve their spot. This way you get people who are serious and non-flaky and will have few no-shows). Other than that, feel free to take pics of the cosplays that interest you when you don't have scheduled appointments. I think these random hallway ones you ask for are a little more difficult to charge for. These would be more of a mutual trade (you want pics of good cosplayers showing off your skills that you can add to your portfolio and they want good pics of their cosplay. win-win.)

Jäätynyt Enkeli said...

Personally I think you should charge a small fee from those who wants to "hire" you and you should by no means feel bad about it. After all, you are literally giving your time to them -time you won't get back- including your skill and effort. Why should you not get a small token as a thanks for knowing that your help was appreciated and needed? It's a win-win situation and you will feel that you didn't just throw your time away later. Value your effort and time - especially if others like what you are capable of making for them. From my own experience I can tell that it sucks to put several years of effort and time into helping countless unknown people, only to realize much later that you never got anything more valuable than virtual "thanks" for all those years of good service to others. Don't do this mistake, value what you do and don't be afraid to tell others that you value your time and work! Those who don't value it, don't deserve your service. Time is money and I'm sure you know this.

Izumi 2005 said...

I think this is a great idea. It's your work, anyway. Creative people (artists, photographers, the like) spend a lot of time and energy into their craft, so it sounds reasonable to ask for something in return. And I think everyone has to start somewhere. Even if you're just an aspiring photographer, you'll need some experience in working with customers and I think that you can gain that from doing cosplay photo commissions. Best luck!! (following you on here, you have such a lovely blog!)


destine said...

I don't think you should feel bad about charging for photoshoots. My opinion is, that if someone asks you to take photos at a convention or outside convention, and you schedule a time for it, you're free to charge a small amount of it. Also, it depends on whether the cosplayer wants the photos to be edited by you, it would also cost more.

The difference is if you just take photos at a convention for yourself, it wouldn't cost anything. Also, if you are still learning and want to use cosplayers as a practise models, I don't think you should then get paid. Because if you're practising and want to learn something new, like new techniques etc, that's for you and your skills, not for the cosplayer.

But I think it sounds reasonable price what you have thought. Like 5€/hour or so. It shouldn't be too much so that it doesn't scare away the cosplayers. Also if they want the whole thing, like all photos edited in different ways etc, it would cost more. But this is just my opinion. Some photographers don't even want to give away non-edited photos!

Best of luck to you and your photography! It's really nice to notice how many talented photographers are arising! : ) And even better if they're cosplayers as well, you know what you want and how to capture it : )

Ania Zarzycka said...

Wow! fantastic camera :)
Like me on FACEBOOK

Hasaki Tsuki said...

I've seen you spend really long on photoshoots and editing pics so I would say that you should definitely ask for payment. Not only for your time, you're a really good photographer and you also put effort into making your model happy! For me that's more than I need to be willing to pay. x)
I agree on the thing that photographers should ask for payment, even if it's not very high. It should be normal because even if photography and editing are fun and help you develop your skills, it still takes time and effort.
I'm happy that you're being open about this because I find it wrong that people would just expect the photographer to work for free... I mean, giving a payment is a way of saying thank you. ;)
When you're writing that payment doesn't have to be money... does it mean that if I get you a bag of your favorite candy, you will photoshoot me? :'D

Airi said...

That's so crazy that people expect a cosplay photoshoot for free! I don't know much about cosplay and the culture around it, but photoshoots (and the subsequent editing needed) seem like so much work to expect for free! I thought it was cute when you wrote "It would be convenient to have an assistant.." in small letters, lol!