Etiquette 101: Photographing and Taking Video of Cosplayers

By Rae Gun Ramblings


One of my favorite parts of conventions is the cosplay. Besides the wonderful geekiness of it all, it is so fun to see the creativity and talent that cosplayers put into their costumes. While most cosplayers are flattered by the attention that their costumes bring, there are few things to keep in mind so that, in the midst of your excitement over seeing your favorite character from that obscure-but-awesome fandom come to life, you don’t accidentally cross any lines.

  1. Always ask before taking pictures or videos. Most cosplayers are more than willing to pose for a picture, but make sure you ask permission before clicking that shutter.
  2. Respect the person in the costume. While it might be normal to throw an arm around your friends in photos, don’t assume that’s okay when posing for pictures with cosplayers. Sometimes the contact might damage their costume and, more than that, they are strangers – you’ve got to ask before touching strangers. If you want to put your arm around their shoulders or waist, ask first. Under no circumstance is it appropriate to try to touch a cosplayer inappropriately. Make sure to stay away from private areas. If their costume has patches of exposed skin, be extra considerate. And finally, if they don’t say yes, that means no.
  3. Don’t touch the costumes or props. Sometimes in the excitement over the awesomeness of a costume it might be easy to forget that there is someone in that thing. If the costume is oh-so-amazing and you’re oh-so-curious about how something feels, do not try to sneak a touch. Oftentimes, costumes are more delicate than they look and some people just do not want to be touched even if it’s through layers of gear. Politely ask if it’s okay and respect their answer.
  4. Consider your timing. Cons are long and everyone – including cosplayers – needs to take breaks to eat and run to the bathroom. If they are sitting down for a bite, heading for the restroom, or talking on the phone, be patient and, if possible, wait for them to finish and ask them politely if they have time for a picture.
  5. Watch the flow of traffic. There will be a lot of people so when you do take a photo (after asking permission), step to the side so you’re not smack in the middle of everyone else’s way or blocking an emergency exit.
  6. Don’t jump into someone else’s picture. No one wants to show their friends pictures of themselves, that awesome cosplayer and that jerk of a stranger that forced himself into the shot. It takes time to get a good picture and there will often be a line of people wanting to get a picture with popular cosplayers. Don’t just butt in. Wait your turn.
  7. Be nice. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. If you don’t like the character that the cosplayer is dressed up as, you don’t need to announce it. Skip any hateful talk, even if you think it’s a playful joke. Hearing hateful comments (even if it’s addressed to the character) can get old fast. Please don’t criticize their costume, how it looks on them, how accurate it is, or how it’s made. Everyone comes with different abilities and experience and, in the end, this is about having fun.
  8. Don’t go all crazy. Control your excitement.You are a stranger and even though you might interpret your own behavior as appreciation or excitement, screaming and running up to someone you don’t know might just make the person terrified.
  9. Be extra mindful of kids. When kids are involved keep all of the above tips in mind, times 10. Whether it’s kids in cosplay or just nearby, be careful not to come on too aggressively in a way that might scare them. Of course, do not touch them. Kids in costume can be super cute but always ask permission from their parents or the adult that is with them before taking their picture.
  10. Report inappropriate behavior. Finally if you see a cosplayer being harassed or endangered, please report it.

If you are interested in trying your hand at cosplay yourself, make sure to check out my article on Cosplay Tips from the Pros inspired from last year’s awesome cosplay session at Salt Lake Comic Con.


Rae Gun Ramblings is an Official Salt Lake Comic Con Blogger.

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3 replies
  1. Bryan Tanner says:

    While the greatest number of people (and therefore cosplayers) attend on Saturday, Thursday is the best time for cosplay photography. Less people means more space to compose shots. Also, people are generally more willing to give you their time, especially for impromptu shoots.

  2. Keith says:

    As a cosplayer, I cannot begin to describe how much I love this post. It may be a little late notice, but how about printing off the bullet points here onto several 8X11 posters and put those posters along the lines to get in? While you are at it, put any of the rules that people don’t normally read as signs by the line. This way when people are waiting to get in, they will have something to read and become more informed!

  3. Levi says:

    I’ve had all of these happen to me before. It would be a great idea to put this in the line or something. As much fun as Comic Con will be, there ARE rules (just so you know) and they should be respected. Soo looking forward to going personally as Link from Legend of Zelda, and yes any rips in cloth and leather would jeopardize the integrity of the costume, even though it’s built to last. Here We Go! Allon-Sy!

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