16 cosplay photography mistakes to avoid

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Howdy and welcome to an episode about cosplay photography mistakes.

Yes, everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect. Noobs, hobbyists, professionals and even seasoned masters.

Does not matter who, as long as you are human, you will not be spared of misses.

But are there times where you just wish you have not made those silly, embarrassing mistakes?

This post is exactly the list of stupid stuff that I have done before as a clueless newbie, and these are the things that we should avoid doing.

A fair word of warning though : this post consists of many badly Photoshopped examples to illustrate my nonsense.




1) Forgetting to take the lens cap off

Bow before the fearful ALMIGHTY LENS CAP!

This is the number one killer mistake that everyone makes, and I don’t just mean the newbies.

I am sure seasoned photographers and professionals are guilty of not taking off the lens cap as well.

For some reason, no one seem to be able to escape from this sin. I believe that every photographer is doomed by some sort of lens cap curse.

Luckily, lifting the curse is as easy as removing the lens cap before shooting. Yep. If you are looking at pitch black while shooting, you should know that the cap is still on.

2) The flash NUKE!

The usual mom nagging goes – It’s too dark, turn on the lights or you will spoil your eyes. So we comply to stop that nag… after a few hours.

Sadly in photography, we seem to be a lot more “automatic” with the lights. As in literally.

Some people just love to have their camera on full auto, and pop nuclear flashes in the darkness. Oh please.

In-your-face flash will only produce shots that are nothing more than horror flicks. Not to mention that they make your subject squint.

For these “hard core” flashers, you have my advice that it does not hurt to learn about flash photography. Please go learn about exposure too.

Boost the ISO, lower the flash power and at the very least, point that flash at somewhere else other than straight into peoples’ eyes. You can even use a piece of tissue to soften that light.

3) Always taking passport photos

Well, nothing is really wrong with taking passport photos. Except, it just gets old. Very old.

Every newbie I come across seem to be “naturally stuck” with portrait, straight on, no tilt. To top things up, they desaturate photos to make “very artistic” black-and-white perfect passport photos.

Good to try this once in a while, but I really don’t think the classic style will work well with modern day cosplay… maybe for the exception of a few oldie characters.

But do try exploring other angles, it’s time to graduate from passport photos.

4) Out-of-focus

No, I did not screw up the shot. This is just a very cool Len blur effect (pun intended) that I wanted the photo to be. Modern day technology.

If it is auto-focus, it must be in focus. I wonder how many people have that 100% trust in their cameras these days…

Sadly, that trust is misguided. Auto-focus is not always in focus, so don’t just shoot and put 100% trust in your camera. Shoot, and review your shot.

Always zoom in your photos to check if they are in focus after taking a shot. Get the shot right on the spot, or regret later at home.

5) Growing things out of the head

I confess, I am guilty of this crime several times. Ever notice that lamp post, tree, or street sign pop out of people’s head?

Yes, they don’t look good. Be a ninja, learn to notice your surroundings while you shoot.

6) Wrong time, wrong place

Camping outside the toilet to grab a first hand shot. Take sudden photos when people are resting and have their guard down.

The cosplayer is tired and wants to take a break, you run in to deliver that “final shot”.

Use the tactics you have learnt in games… not! Don’t be a jerk. Learn when is a bad time and when is the right time to take photos.

7) Using desaturation in the wrong way

Desaturating a photo and leaving a spot of color is a good way to catch attention. But some people just have to up the game on bad Photoshop.

Leaving out a spot of color in a strange way?

This sure reminds me of a certain badly Photoshopped wedding photo. Why? Just why?

8) Dreamland gone nightmare

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of what the heck. Some people love that warm and fuzzy feel so much that they take it to the god level. Yes, god level.

Where the photo is nothing but a ball of warm fuzziness.

Much like someone who poured too much softener into the laundry, and had a lot of trouble washing it off.

What is the photo all about again? I don’t know, it’s just way too warm and fuzzy for me to care.

9) A vomit of colors

Cosplay photographs must be attractive, vivid and colorful. So I make mine super colorfool.

I am sure this looks super catchy and super nice now. I am sure everyone will be captivated by this, and love this to bits.

Oh please don’t, just leave the color fantasies to unicorns over the rainbow bridge. We humans are not meant to cross that bridge.

If we do, our eyes will bleed, and smoke will rise from your head. It can result in permanent brain damage as well.

10) HDR horror story

My eyes! They burn! Yes, the masters did say “use HDR to bring out the details”.

But they did not say to use it on portrait or cosplay in the worst possible way. In fact, treat it like a taboo.

Do not ever use HDR on portrait or cosplay… unless you really know what you are doing.

11) Big and ugly watermarks

My photos are worth a lot of money and everyone should know who I am. We should all respect copyright, and so, I make sure that no one can copy my photos. Yeah, right.

I think it’s most likely people don’t even bother to copy because of that fat and ugly watermark. Do we really have a need for excessive watermark?

I mean, the Internet is an interesting place now. We have eyes looking out for each other, and publicly shame people who publish without permission.

Publish my work without permission, and make a huge profit? Good. Sue them!

12) Spray and pray

I am noob, I do not know camera settings, but I know strategy. If I take 9999 shots, at least 1 of them will be good. 🙄

Photography is not a gamble. If you spray 9999 bad shots, you will get 9999 bad shots as it is. There are no sudden “critical hits” in photography, it is all about skills.

I know a certain “photographer” who spams thousands of photos, and nobody gives a sh*t about the photos he publish. So learn to hit hard, not to spray hard.

13) Wait for it, wait for it, not yet, just a little while longer

If I stay at the same spot long enough, senpai will notice me. Good shots are worth waiting for, and they rarely happen.

No. This is not landscape photography where you have to wait for the right environmental conditions.

If you want to have a shoot in cosplay photography, you have ask for it.

If you want to create good shots, you don’t wait for it. You have to think of a shoot concept, and you have to create it yourself.

14) The plastic doll

Yet another horrible mistake that I see all over the Internet. People going over zealous with smoothing the skin.

Life in plastic must be fantastic. Not. While this may not as bad as warm and fuzzy, it is still stupid.

Please don’t turn humans into plastic dolls. We are photographers, not puppet masters.

15) I haz a good camera, I must shoot in manual

I have a DSLR camera. This camera only shoots in manual. Automatic is for the weak. Well, a word of advice from the experienced – don’t be stubborn.

Even professionals use semi-auto during event shoots.

Think about this, would you rather use automatic, or miss that money shot while trying to get the settings right in manual?

16) Not knowing how to pose

To follow up on “always taking passport photos”, I encourage newbies to try out different angles.

But the next challenge they face is, posing. Yes, a good photographer understands how to pose and not just depending on the cosplayer/model.

Not sure how to pose? Just ask Google, or Youtube. Here are a 2 generic posing guides for you.

These two may not always apply to Cosplay, and is not everything to posing.

So do your own research on poses for the characters you are planning to shoot.



And we come to the end of the list.

No one is perfect. But those who learn from mistakes make better photographers.

Do feel free to share your mistakes in the comments below, so we can learn from each other.

Cheers, and happy shooting!

P.S. If you want more cosplay photography tips, please do check out my other guide.

Cosplay Photoshoot Tips – The Complete Beginner’s Guide

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