Cosplay Photography: Why it's not always free
PHOTOGRAPHER APPRECIATION POST.
There is a topic that has been floating around lately that I wanted to talk about. And that topic is Cosplay Photography: Pricing.
I have seen a lot of people getting really upset lately about the pricing options of photographers, and I think it’s a very misplaced anger.
Photographers, just like any other artist, are putting time, effort, and materials into their art form. Much like a cosplayer buys their fabric, notions, etc, photographers are buying their lenses, memory cards, lights, etc. Most of which are not cheap.
Something that people need to realize, is that most photographers that have photography as their main profession are not only charging $200-$300 per shoot for their clients. They often charge, two, three, four, times that amount, or more. Because you are paying for time, the labor, and the editing. Prices are MUCH higher when you are also including publishing or commercial rights to the photos, or sometimes in the cosplayer’s case, rights to prints.
There are indeed many people who offer photo services in the cosplay community for free, and that’s great! But that’s not the case for everyone, and those that charge have every right to. If you aren’t willing to pay, then find someone who suits your needs. There is no reason to shame a photographer for charging several hundred dollars for a shoot, when their quality speaks to the type of photos you will receive. You get what you pay for. And while you may feel that one persons price/quality ratio is off, then simply find someone else that better suits your budget. That person is charging what they feel is appropriate for the amount of work they’re doing.
I have worked with a variety of photographers over many years. I have gotten free photos, and paid for shoots. I have modeled for free, and charged, as well. Some find my rates too high, others have said I undercharged. But I always quote what I feel my time is worth. I do the same whenever I have taken on costume commissions. Many will scream about commission pricing, but that’s the difference in having a custom made costume, or buying one off ebay.
There are many excellent photographers who work for free in cosplay, as a side hobby, because their regular work makes up for it. But that does not mean that those who DO charge, are some big bad meanies for wanting payment for their services.
If a photographer wants payment for files, that’s normal. You wouldn’t want to give your work away for free so someone else could profit, would you?
Another thing to keep in mind, is that studio shoots are almost never free. Even if a photographer isn’t charging YOU, chances are, they had to pay to use that studio time. Even location shoots sometimes require permits or fees to shoot in certain locations. So don’t take that for granted.
You are not ENTITLED to free photos just because a photographer wants to work with you, or to be allowed to use photos for free. If a photographer is allowing you to do so, that is incredibly kind on their part and you should be extremely grateful.
So know, that when schooled, published, or high quality photographers are charging you $200 for a shoot, you are actually getting a pretty good deal! Again, you get what you pay for.
I appreciate both sides of the spectrum. Those who do free shoots and allow use of their prints, and those who charge or want a percentage.
Just something to keep in mind when working with photographers!
Most photography pages will not explode nearly as much as a private cosplay page, a lot of their exposure depends on their subjects.
Credit your photographers. Thank them. Don’t undervalue them. They are the ones taking photos of YOUR hard work. without their services you wouldn’t be able to display your own efforts.
I want to thank Tobias Roybal Photography, Lauren Pihl Photo, Dave Yang Photography, Photosnxs, Martin Wong, Sweet Sensation Photography, andRobbins Studios Photography and Fine Art, and all others for all the time they’ve spent helping me get the photos I’ve wanted of my costumes. I appreciate you all so much. Thank you.