Choosing an event photographer
With the UK comic convention scene in full flow I’ve seen many requests from people on Facebook groups asking for photographers to shoot with while at a convention. This article is a basic guide to what you should be looking out for before taking on someone’s services.
Before the event
1. Do they have a dedicated photography page on Facebook or website? If not ask to see samples of their work. If they don’t move on…
2. Ask your friends or Facebook groups for recommendations of people they have worked with.
3. If you recognise someone in a picture e.g. Facebook/Instagram etc., you could message them and ask them for their experiences of the shoot and whether they would recommend the photographer.
If you have found a photographer you would like to work with and they are attending the same event contact them and express your interest. You should then be able to iron out some details about times and locations on the day.
Sometimes your request may get turned down, this is usually because the photographer is interested in specific genres/characters/fandoms and should not be taken as a sleight against you. Some photographers will work through a whole event getting shots of as many of the attendees as possible.
Most importantly try to get at least three poses you can move between easily that are in character. This way you can get shots from several photographers with different looks.
At the event
While at a convention you will most likely be asked for photographs from members of the public along with photographers. While the majority will ask permission there are some that will either “snipe” a shot of you without asking or while eating, socialising etc., some people may take offence to “candid” shots however there is no restriction under UK law that prohibits this. However, it is considered as extremely poor manners to do so. An “excuse me can I take your picture?” costs nothing and will often result in a better picture. It is worth remembering that when buying a ticket for an event you are in many cases implicitly giving your consent to having pictures take of yourself for advertising & promotional use.
1. If you don’t want you photo taken just say “no thank you” when asked. If the person refuses and continues to take pictures call the event stewards and let your friends know.
2. If approached by a photographer asking for a photo ask them what it is being used for. There are some photographers that shoot for profit to sell to photo agencies like Getty Images and other stock photo sites. While it is perfectly legal the people featured rarely get credited by name for their work. The worst example I came across was a father and son cosplaying as Judges from 2000A.D. who found their photo being used as an advert for a security company!
3. Be wary of photographers who either make inappropriate comments like “wow that’s sexy” or make rude remarks about how you are dressed or your costume is. Best to steer clear of them. You deserve to be treated with respect and not be subjected to rude or judgemental remarks.
4. Most decent photographers will carry business cards with their contact details. Don’t be afraid to ask for one. Also ask where they will be able to see their photos after the event.
5. Exhibition halls can get very crowded and are not the best of places to have a picture taken. Many photographers will be scouting out the venue for quieter and more suitable area to do shoots in. In the event you are asked if you can move to another area bring a friend with you.
6. Many photographers like to use flash while taking pictures, if you suffer from photosensitive epilepsy please make the photographer aware of this to avoid any potential health issues at the venue.
7. Some photographers like to work away from the venue e.g. car parks, pathways, green areas etc. Once again if you are asked the photographer should have no problem with you bringing someone along as a chaperone. If there is *any* objection simply end the shoot and walk away. You are not under any obligation to shoot with a photographer if you choose not to.
8. Know your comfort zone. Professional models work to specified “levels“ which describe exactly what they are prepared to do. A good photographer should always ask you what you are comfortable with and never “pressure” you into doing something you are not comfortable with e.g. posing seductively/out of character, revealing more than acceptable. If they do ask stand your ground and terminate the shoot straight away. Do not subject yourself to this kind of behaviour.
9. Some photographers may give you some direction in posing in order to get a better picture. They should not touch you or any items you are carrying without your consent. Most photographers will try to show you what they are looking for by demonstrating the pose themselves (sometimes good for a laugh!). Not all photographers are familiar with character poses. Saving several sample photos onto your phone will make for a guide to your photographer.
After the event
While for many attendees the hard work takes place leading up to an event, the photographer’s work is just beginning. It takes time to sort through several hundred/thousand pictures to pick out the best ones, carry out further image processing before uploading to either online photo sites such as Flickr, Smugmug, Facebook or Instagram so be patient and you should see your pictures shortly.
It is always worth checking the event’s Facebook page as well as any related groups as some photographers will post complete galleries of the day’s shots for all to see.
Please be aware that the photographer owns the copyright to the image and would prefer it if you credited them when reposting and not cropping out their watermark or applying Instagram filters. Photographers work hard to make the images look their best so why spoil it with stickers and silly drawings.
Last but not least, unlike the United States where event photographers charge attendees for pictures in the UK there is an understanding that shoots within a convention are free and are done on a “Time for Print/Trade“ basis. If you have a picture you like please support the photographer by not just giving their Social Media account a “like” but consider buying them a drink or meal at the next event or by making a donation to their “Ko.fi“ page as a thank you. Most photographers carry thousands of pounds of equipment to events every weekend and spend lots of their time to give attendees “free” photos. Remember there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch – everything has a cost.