Comiket is coming soon, and so this is a continuation to my general guide to Comiket which you can read here!
In this article, I will be giving some guides that are more targeted to photographers or anyone intending to take lots of pictures of cosplayers in during Comiket.
Okay, first things first, let’s talk about gears. Photographers tend to either go overboard with their gears, or deeply regret not bringing a particular gear during the shoot, there is no in between. So, what we want to aim for Comiket is something that allows you to travel light but at the same time, very versatile in all conditions.
As for the camera body, I would recommend any camera body that you’re comfortable with. However, if you have the choice, go for mirrorless or micro four thirds. Those camera body are small and light, perfect for a long day of walk and you can save bag space for some of the sweet, sweet merchandise you may want to buy.
However, there are some things you need to be wary of when choosing your camera body besides its weight and size. You also have to take the camera’s durability and ease of changing settings into account. The camera’s durability is for obvious reasons, you’re in one of the largest conventions in the world with a huge crowd, accidents can happen so you may not want to bring along a camera that is more fragile. The ease of changing settings, is meant to allow you to quickly take the shot and change settings quickly during the shoots, you only have so much time with the cosplayer, but this shouldn’t be an issue with most people since you just get used to changing your camera’s setting after some use.
For your camera lens, I would highly recommend a wide angle lens, standard zoom lens and a prime lens (35mm/ 50mm/ 85mm).
The reason for a wide angle lens is just so you can capture some creative pictures and to show off the scale of the events with all its crowd within the picture, you would use your wide angle shot mostly just to take pictures of the crowd instead of the cosplayer, unless that is the effect you are looking for.
Standard zoom lens is just crucial in most instances, it’s most likely your bread and butter already. It’s just convenient to be able to adjust your composition by zooming in or out, especially in a convention setting where you may not have enough space to work with. However, if you think you can survive without a zoom lens, a prime lens that you’re comfortable with should suffice as most of the time you have just about enough space to work with the cosplayer where a 35mm or 50mm prime lens would be perfect. I still think it’s always a good idea to bring along a standard zoom lens, especially a 24-70mm f2.8 lens so you can still get a decent headshot at the 70mm range.
Prime lens is for those who wants to get the highest quality image and to travel even lighter if you are only bringing along a single prime lens. It also helps that most prime lens have a huge aperture to allow a better separation of the subject with its background when you shoot wide open with those creamy creamy bokeh.
For lighting equipments, the sky’s the limit, you can use all kinds of lighting equipments, I see a lot of people with interesting and creative way to bring additional lighting to bump up the quality of their shots. You can use a reflector, an off-camera flash, a ring flash and even video light. However, there are some crucial things you need to consider when you’re thinking of what lighting equipment to bring.
One of those core criteria is the ability for you to operate alone and quickly, you don’t really have the time nor the resources to have multiple people to help you out just to get the perfect shot, you’re not the only photographer in Comiket, in fact, there could be more photographers in Comiket than Cosplayers, which is a pretty unique scenario when compared to Malaysian events. So the key point when trying to figure out which lighting equipment to bring, is the versatility and ability for the equipment to be operated alone and quickly.
Perhaps one of the most important thing to know when taking pictures of cosplayers in Japan is the etiquette involved. In Malaysia, we usually see cosplayers just walking around, and photographers walk up to the cosplayer and ask if they may take pictures of them. In Japan however, you will only see cosplayers in designated spots within Comiket. The cosplayers will then set up their spot, usually by placing a luggage in front of them with a whiteboard stating their name and various methods to reach them via social media.
In Japan, the cosplayers are like street performers, so you can’t really drag them around the event venue for an extended period of time like in Malaysia. So, you have to queue up (if there is any) to have perhaps 5-10 minutes time to take the pictures of the cosplayers since you’re not the only one that wants some time with the cosplayer. So, after queueing up and it’s your turn, you just bow, and start taking pictures, you can try to give them direction for posing or posture that you want, but that is probably too complex if you don’t know Japanese, at best, you can just do the pose you want them to do, and hopefully they understand your intention and mimic you. Once you’re done, you just bow again, saying thank you and walk away, as easy as that.
Besides those simple etiquette, I think it goes without saying that erotic poses is a big NO-NO, unless the cosplayers gives the OK. You also shouldn’t ask for cosplayers to do erotic poses either, unless they offer it to you. I’m pretty sure you’ve seen some pictures of photographers surrounding the cosplayers taking upskirt shots but I’ve never seen that in person, and I don’t know how the procedure leading up to that kind of shots even begin, but I have to emphasise that Japan is not some place filled with weirdos where you can just do whatever you want (flashbacks to the whole Logan Paul fiasco). If you just treat everyone nicely just as you would with anyone you first meet, then you will have a blast in Comiket.
As always, feel free to drop some comments down below if you wish to ask me more about Comiket and I’ll try to answer it.
Here are just some of the cosplay pics I took during my visit to last year’s Comiket:
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