Photography and the Plus Sized cosplayer
So, I’m going to give you hints from a photographer who does not mind taking pictures of plus sized people AND knows how to do it!
- Angles. All the angles: Take a square on picture of someone is NEVER as flattering as it could be. There’s a REASON the Mona Lisa is painted at an angle. It’s more flattering for the human form. Aim for 45 degrees to the right or to the left, roughly. This works with ANYONE not just plus sized people.
- Light! WHO NEEDS IT!: Flashes can be REALLY horrible. I try to NEVER use one, if I can help it, but if I need to, I try to use a Flash diffuser (even though mine is MIA). They can kind of be costly, but HAVE NOT FEAR! You can make your own! The reason you want a diffuser is because most camera flashes are just… horrible. The light they produce is VERY harsh and VERY direct. This means any places where there are creases or folds or imperfections are going to be more noticeable, and thus look worse than they are in real life/lighting. The best light will hit your subject at a 45 degree angle.
- Pictures! There are Rules: Consider your composition! Remember the rule of threes. It may seem silly, but it’s really important to your composition. My camera on my cell phone has a grid option like the one in the link and I know some point and shoots have it, too. I use this to remind me of the placement of things and I take photos for a living. It just helps.
- Is there something else? NEGATIVE!: space. Look at what’s going on in the background around the person. Sometimes, a heavy, solid back ground can make a person look bigger. I like to find things that are either BIGGER than the person I’m taking pictures of (like a fucking huge potted stick thing or a GIGANTOR statue) or something with Angled lines, like a stair case or painting. Angles are nice and pull the eye upwards, When things go up, the mind registers them as being taller, rather than wider. It’s a nice trick! Big fucking huge things make everything around them seem smaller in comparison! Everyone wants to be smaller and/or taller and thinner! Also, you know. Photobombs happen. (though I have been known to leave awesome ones in there for the luls)
- Don’t just stand there!: You can climb on things, or lay on the ground. You might look silly, but if you change it up, you’re shots will be different. Some people photograph better from lower or higher. If you shoot from lower, they will seem taller, if you shoot from higher, their head will be bigger! Costumes will help you decide what you should do. I generally hold my camera at sternum height first and go up or down from there, based on what I see.
- Something to think about: I almost NEVER take pictures at cons. This has a lot to do with the fact I’m almost ALWAYS in Costume and never where I can store anything in my costumes, but also because I get annoyed really fast with people walking in and out of my shots. I try to schedule them to where the sun is still out. Lighting at cons is hard enough without having day light to help you out, and I usually ONLY take them by request as a photo shoot. I don’t feel like you can get a good picture of someone with just one quick shot. That being said, I take more than one picture of those that I DO stop and take them on my own. (For example: I took pictures of 3 people this past con outside of a photo shoot. Three. that’s it)
- *ALWAYS TAKE PICTURES OF THE WHOLE GROUP!* : Then, take individuals of everyone if you want pictures of one or two people specifically. It’s rude to do other wise. I’m not saying you have to USE the ones of everyone else, but take them, and post them on less “professional” places if you need to, but POST THEM SOMEWHERE. It’s ridiculously hard to find pictures of yourself as a larger person, sometimes. If you have them, share them. Even if it’s under an alias so it’s not connected with your edited “professional” self. Don’t be a dick. People work hard on costumes and you should respect that as a photographer.
- Angles. All the angles: This goes for you, too. Don’t expect your photographer to be as
awesome as me Humble as me! If they are standing RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, all square and dead on, turn your hips 45 degrees and square your shoulder up. It feels awkward, but it’s a REALLY slimming pose.
- ALL THE POSES! ALL OF THEM!: Have poses ready. And practice them in the mirror to see how it will look to someone else. Girls might find placing their hand just below their hip and back a bit to be one thing to consider. This can be very slimming. Again, it my feel weird. Stick your head forward a bit and stretch your neck out. This will help give you a more defined chin area, if like me, your bone structure did not gift you with an amazing jaw line. More tips
- My strongest suit: What’s underneath your costume is just as, if not more, important than them. That’s not to say that having a well fitted costume is not important, but you might want to look into supportive undergarments and body shapers. There are even some you can find for men. I have one that I use for most of my costumes. I have an under bust because finding one with a built in bra is impossible for me without spend a crap-load. Corsets can get a bit bulky, but are an option (for both men and women); finding a good one can be costly and a chore. I try to always wear tights or pantyhose on my legs, if they’re exposed. Let’s face it. No one has perfect legs. Tights and panty hose help hide that. Just make sure you get ones without a “control top” or extra weaving on the toes if these things are exposed on the costume. I prefer dance tights to almost anything else.
- I’m ready for my close up!: Make up is important to use. It helps smooth out imperfections on the face. This goes for MEN and Women. Don’t kid yourself, men. You still should wear make-up if you’re taking pictures or hoping to have your picture taken. The camera is unforgiving. You don’t need a lot or to go full out drag-queen pancake make-up. Also, Make sure you’re freshly shave and CLEAN.
- Did I mention practicing poses?: I did, but this is really pretty much the MOST important thing you can do. Practice poses based on your character and your body and what works for it. If people see you posing for a shot, they’re more likely to stop and take a picture.
- *Make sure the WHOLE GROUP is recognized* if you’re in a group. At least make them take one shot of everyone. It’s just rude to do otherwise. You probably wouldn’t have been noticed if there weren’t more than one of you. Suck it up and let your friends have some lime-light, too.
I feel like this is something that lands on the feet of photographers AND cosplayers. The communication between the two is VERY lacking at a con. Preparedness on both parts is the only way to help eliminate this issue.
This. ALL of this.
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