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Information for Cosplayers and Photographers
I'm a photographer who wants to take pictures of cosplayers. How can I make them feel safe while doing so?
As a photographer, even just a fan taking pictures, you have a certain responsibility toward the people you take pictures of. At a convention, cosplayers are usually quite happy to let people take photos of them as long as they feel safe and that the photos will be in good taste. No cosplayer wants to feel unsafe or be put in awkward situations. As a photographer, you want to take pictures, have a good reputation, and not make anyone feel uneasy. Again, even as just a fan taking photos, these responsibilites remain the same.

What are some ways I can be a good photographer at a convention:

  • This should go without saying; however, wear nice clothes and have good hygene. Your appearance matters a lot.
  • Always ask first before you take a picture. It's polite and shows you respect the cosplayer.
  • While talking to them, make sure you make eye contact, smile, and speak clearly so they can hear you.
  • Do not stop a cosplayer for too long. They probably have somewhere to be. Take one or two photos.
  • If you like, you may ask the cosplayer to pose a certain way. Usually it is a pose relating to the character they are. They probably will do so on their own; however, make sure you don't ask for any pose that is unflattering or uncomfortable for them.
  • You may hand a cosplayer your card if you have one, but be mindful of their costume and if they have any place to put it.
  • If you are doing a full photoshoot, ask the cosplayer if there are any specific rules you need to follow.
  • If a cosplayer says no to a photo, respect their choice.
  • If a cosplayer says they have to leave, let them go wihtout a fuss.
  • Make sure you thank the cosplayer for giving their time to you.

Are there things I shouldn't do?

  • Do not mumble or talk so softly a cosplayer cannot hear you.
  • Do not stare at parts of a cosplayer's body. Yes, they may look good in their costume but it is rude to ogle someone.
  • Do not make rude statements to them about their appearance or to your firends. You (and your friends) may appreciate what you are saying, but they may not.
  • Do not follow a cosplayer around during the day or stalk them. You may think you are innocently following them, but it is not proper behavior.
  • Do not touch a cosplayer without permisson.
  • Do not take close up pictures of a cosplayer without permission.
  • Do not demand pictures.
  • Do not ask for a cosplayer to go anywhere private with you.

How can I avoid "creepy" photographer syndrome?

Ok. This is a tough topic. Some photographers have a reptuation for being "creepy". Whether it may be true or not is not the focus of this. It's how to avoid making anyone feel you are "creepy".

Here are some things to avoid that MAY contribute to "creepy" photographer syndrome:

  • Mumbling and looking down at your feet.
  • Being absolutely silent and just staring.
  • Staring at body parts.
  • Literally, hanging your tongue out.
  • Saying inappropriate things to a cosplayer.
  • Trying to get close up shots of body parts without permission.
  • Trying to get "upshots" of cosplayers.
  • Trying to touch a cosplayer without permission.
  • Following cosplayers around wihout permission.
  • Inserting yourself into a cosplayer's day at a convention without permission.
  • Being continually annoying on purpose or accident. (this is subjective)
  • Being incredibly loud.
  • Do not take pictures of a cosplayer who is eating unless they know you are doing it and are ok with it.
  • Taking pictures of a cosplayer from across a room. (unless they are doing something like performing on a stage)
  • Asking a cosplayer if they do lingerie photo shoots after taking a picture.
  • Asking a cosplayer you don't know to come back to a private room and take pictures for you.
  • NEVER ask a cosplayer to go with you somewhere unless you check their age FIRST!

Always think before you do something or ask something. If you want to be professional, make sure you act that way. Remember, just because you might have a nice camera doesn't mean you can do whatever you want.

I have a medical condition that makes me not be able to control myself. I still want to take pictures but I kind of act "creepy" because of it.
If you know you have a medical condition and you know that sometimes you may come across in a way thay may not be looked upon well, there are things you can then do to mitigate it.

Have someone with you when you take photos and talk for you if necessary or also if you feel you might say something that's incorrect. This way, you are not alone and people won't get the wrong idea. Also, if you feel it helps, write down a bullet pointed list of things you say to a cosplayer so you can follow it each time.

Hey, I'm just here to take pictures of hot cosplayers. What do I care?
This attitude has caused many problems in this industry. While cosplayers may wear all different types of costumes, you should be respectful at all times. If you don't intend to be, you should not be taking photos of them.

How can I be Cosplay Safe at a convention?
At Fantasm, we want everyone to have a great weekend and we certainly love costumes. Many cosplayers love to have photos taken of them. Some are used to cameras, others are shy, and some are very new to fandom in general. 

Here are some very good rules to follow if you are a cosplayer and having pictures taken of you.

Have a buddy or a handler:
As a precaution, it’s a very good idea to not only have a friend or handler with you that can help you with crowds, but also they can help you with your costume, talk to the potential photographer or fan for you, escort you places, and help manage your time. The buddy system definitely works.

Set boundaries and rules when taking photos:
Some cosplayers don’t mind having an arm around them in a photo and some do. Cosplay is not consent for someone to do whatever they like; however, it is a very good idea to set rules when you are taking pictures.

As an example, it is absolutely fine to tell each person who wants a photo with you that there is no putting an arm around you or touching if that is what you decree. Doing this will let people know you have rules and what you will or will not allow. It makes for a better experience with someone taking a photo with you as well as they know immediately what they are allowed to do. It will also help Security in determining how to handle any issues or problems if they arise.

Many cosplayers do not want to come off as being rude by setting rules; however, any cosplayer that is in public and is getting attention NEEDS to set boundaries. We absolutely suggest that if someone wants to get a picture with you, tell them exactly what they are or are not allowed to do. Remember fans are new to this sometimes also. Don’t expect them to know the rules or ask you. They may have no idea what rules apply to each cosplayer since everyone is different; or, they may be going off of what they’ve seen with another cosplayer. Also, anyone attempting to do something knowingly inappropriate will have your personal rules stated to them.

  • Example 1: A fan wants a picture with a cosplayer. He / She / They says yes but tells them, "Please do not touch my costume. It's delicate."
  • Example 2: A fan asks if they can put their arm around a cosplayer in a photo. The cosplayer allows it but says, "Yes, but keep it above the waist."

Stating rules IMMEDIATELY and IRREVOCABLY sets a boundary that a fan now knows NOT to cross. So many times we've heard people say, "By telling a fan they can’t do something, I’m being rude." No, you are not. You are setting a rule that if broken should have IMMEDIATE consequence.

Here is an example of Cosplay is not Consent that can benefit from setting boundaries.

A cosplay model is taking photos in a crowd and someone they know asks for a photo. They naturally put an arm around the cosplayer and it is fine because they know each other. After that, the next person waiting for a photo has seen an arm be put around the cosplayer and assumes it is fine for them as well. This goes on for several fans wanting pictures. After the fans are done, the cosplayer states they did not like having fans touch them to their handler. In this situation, the cosplayer should have set a boundary and stated to the next person in line that they were not to put their arm around them. If there is something that you, as a cosplayer, do not want to happen, state it up front. Do not wait and let something happen.

Here are some rules a cosplayer can set during photos which can be said very nicely and with a smile:

  • Please no touching the costume. It’s fragile
  • You may place your hand only on my shoulder.
  • You may place your hand on my waist.
  • Give me your hand and I will place it for you.
  • Please no ground upwards shots.
  • Please no close ups unless you ask first.
  • I need to see your photo afterwards to make sure I approve.

It’s ok to leave when you have to be somewhere:
Sometimes you need to get somewhere but a fan wants to take a ton of pictures of you. While flattering, It is absolutely fine to tell someone you have to be somewhere but you are available for photos later.

When to stop a photo or a fan:
Sometimes, it is absolutely IMPERATIVE that you stop a picture. You should be ready to do so if the need arises.

Example: A cosplayer tells a fan they can put a hand on their waist during a photo. They do exactly what you say, but then move their hand MUCH lower and you can absolutely tell it is NOT AN ACCIDENT! It was done with INTENT.

  • Do not let the photo go on or the person touch you for one second longer.
  • Immediately go to Security!

Make sure you handle these types of situations with a clear head and a clear knowledge if the result REQUIRES security or not. Keeping a clear mindset and not letting fear take over is the key to dealing with situations like the correctly.

I'm worried I will get a bad reputation if I set rules or let a fan touch me.
Honestly, most people will respect you more if you have rules and practice SAFE photography during Cosplay. Those that think you are elitist or snobbish because you don't let them touch you places you don't want are not worth your consideration. Your self respect will help inspire others to do the same.

In the end, NO ONE (Cosplayer, Professional Photographer, or Fan) should EVER feel taken advantage of, pressured into anything, or used in any way. If everyone practices SAFE "Cosplay", and respects everyone else, there will be nothing to report to Security. Fandom is supposed to be fun after all.

I have questions about reporting something to Security.
Reporting an incident to Security is sometimes necessary at a convention. Here are some observations that hopefully will help you if you have to deal with a problem or report something to Security.

Do not rely on the crowd to help you or report something:
If something inappropriate happens during a photo, do not rely on or naturally expect the crowd around you to report it to Security. They do not necessarliy know what you do and do not allow. Do not attempt to continue on with photos or fan interaction expecting someone in the crowd near you will be a hero and “save you” or they will jetpack off to Security immediately. YOUR safety is YOUR IMMEDIATE concern! Do not wait around. Have your handler / friend escort you away to Security for an IMMEIDATE report.

I’m scared to contact Security because I don’t want to cause a problem:
No cosplayer should think this way - EVER! You are not causing a problem. If there is a REAL problem, Security NEEDS to hear it.

Contacting Security:
If something happens that you feel is harassing, contact Security. Do not wait or decide to do it later! We see this happen a lot at conventions.

Example: A cosplayer goes up to someone on Security and says, "A guy touched me inappropriately during a photo!" The Security member asks when did this happen? If the response is, "About two hours ago and I don't remember what they look like", there's not going to be much to do about it.

To be safe, IMMEDIATELY report an incident to Security. If possible, have a friend try to get a picture of the person once you are a SAFE distance away so that you can show Security who it was. The more information you can provide, the better. If you cannot physically talk to Security, please have someone with you who can. If you are crying and just pointing in a direction, Security is less likely to understand your problem or issue.

Cosplay is NOT Consent! We hear that a lot and it's very true and should be followed. By having set boundaries and having the mindset of contacting Security immediately, you can prevent many instances of this from even taking place. If someone knows you are looking out for yourself, they will usually be less likely to cause an issue.

Examples of when to contact Security:

  • “While posing for a photo, a person touched me inappropriately after I set boundaries with them. My handler saw it.”
  • “A fan tried to take a hidden upshot of me.”
  • "A fan will not leave me alone after I told them no more photos."
  • "I am being stalked by a fan. I have told them to leave me alone and they keep hanging around."

Examples of things NOT to contact Security for:

  • “A photographer took two pictures of me when he asked. I only meant one.”
  • "I don't like that photographer's camera."
  • “People are asking me for photos.”
  • “I don’t like that person over there.”

Examples of when Security will have a hard time helping you:

  • “A fan touched me a few hours ago and I don’t know where they are or what they look like.”
  • “I was so shocked when a fan touched me that I just let it go. It’s been hours but now I think I want them found and thrown out.”

Know when to contact Security and when not to:
Sometimes, there is an IMMEDIATE reasson to contact Security and sometimes, there is a genuine accident or misunderstanding during a convention. This is especially true if you are cosplaying in an environment that is extremely crowded.

Let's say, someone drops an item or their badge and in picking it up, they accidentally bump someone. The person that was bumped should assess the situation first, determine if it was a real or "fake" accident, and THEN take the appropriate action. You should NOT start screaming, "OMG! They touched me! Get Security! I want them thrown out NOW!" Especially if it was a genuine accident.

Examples of when Security will have a very hard time determining what to do or won't be able to do anything:

  • "Someone bumped me."
  • "I feel unsafe but I don't have a reason."
  • "A person over there is creepy but hasn't done anything."
  • "I feel anxiety when someone wants a photo."
  • "My ex is here."

Security is there to keep you safe and deal with any issues that arise; however, they do not want to have to try to asses who did what in a very vague situation. If something happens and it is a REAL incident, then immediately inform Security of it with as many details as possible. It is also a good idea to have people who saw what happened be able to explain as well.

Things not to ask Security to do / Things not to do:

  • Please do not contact Security if there is just a person at the convention that you don’t like. Not liking someone is not grounds for removing them.
  • Please DO NOT fake an incident. We understand that people may have issues with each other but our Staff is not there to get involved in your problems unless they constitute an actual breach of our rules or someone's safety.
  • Please do not ask Security to follow you around all day so you can feel safe. They have everyone at the convention to watch out for. Our Security is definitely there to make sure you have an environment that is as safe as possible, but they are not there to be your personal bodyguards or handlers. Please cosplay with friends and in a group if you feel a need to have people around you at all times.
  • Please do not ask Security to come into your hotel room or ride with you in your car somewhere so you will feel safe.

PLEASE NOTE: All problems of this nature should be solved AT THE CONVENTION and not on FACEBOOK or other social media!

If I report something to Security, will they call the Police?
If, while taking photos, there is something you need to report to Security, there is a chance that the police might potentially be called or be involved in certain situations if warranted.

If a cosplayer reports any sexual assault, then it is the convention's responsibility to ask if the police need to be called for charges to be pressed. You should determine if the incident is strong enough to just have Security talk to the person, have them removed from the convention, or have charges pressed.

Let's say that you are touched inappropriately while having a photo taken of you and you want to report it to Security. You should immediatly consider if you want the police to be called and charges pressed.
As it is, if the convention has to tresspass a person from the premesis, the police will be called anyway to escort the person out and trespass them legally. 

Example for when to ask for the police directly:
"I was absolutely touched inappropriately. I can describe where. I have witnesses. I can point out the person."
"I have a restraining order against this person."

Example for when not to have to ask for the police:
"I was bumped and touched by accident and I didn't like it."
"I don't like someone who took a picture of me after I said they could."

Please make sure that when you report an incident to Security, you are very clear in what happened and not vague in your report. If you are not sure if you need the police involved, we can make a suggestion for you to decide. In certain situations, the convention reserves the right to call the police regardless.

As a Cosplayer or Photographer, when should I charge for photos?
If you are a photographer, you should only charge for taking photos if someone is doing a scheduled photoshoot with you and knows they will be charged ahead of time. They should know the price and duration of the shoot beforehand as well as how many photos they get.  You should never ask a Cosplayer for a candid picture at a convention and then tell them to pay you for it.

If you are a Cosplayer, you really should not charge for photos of yourself at a convention unless you are selling them at a booth and you have the prices listed. You should NEVER let a fan take a picture of you while walking around a convention AND THEN demand money from them for the photo after they have taken it. That may be potentially viewed as trying to take advantage of someone and you will most likely be told to stop or potentially be asked to leave.

September 15 - 17, 2023
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando
5780 Major Blvd. Orlando, FL
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