Paying to shoot Cosplays. Right or Wrong?

So there is some big hooha going around because of this . Just curious to know what is everyone's take on this ?

Personally, I'm not taking any sides. Though I do feel a little sorry to the 2 cosplayers involved for getting so much slat over this. But at the same time, I don't feel like I should offer any encouragement to them because , well, its a decision they made. They ought to have foreseen the consequences and be prepared to face it bravely.

Now to the big question, what do I feel about this? Honestly speaking , its definitely not something I admire. But at the same time, I can't find any reasons to disapprove it.

I think most cosplayer who are against it don't like it because of the negative image it is imposing on our beloved hobby. And many feel that it's wrong to make money out of this hobby because it taints the purity of one's passion for the hobby.

Well, this is not a new fight. Once again, there are those who fight to protect their vision of cosplay and others who act on their beliefs of cosplay (which happen to be different from the first bunch). In no way am I implying that they are wrong. I think it just means they have a very strong passion for cosplay and would like to preserve the hobby in its most primitive form.

Everyone has the rights to their opinion, right?.

I'll push the moral card to the end of this entry and focus on factual talk first. Here’s the usual disclaimer, I am in no way slamming any parties or any opinions but just sharing my views on some areas we might have overlooked. 


1.Urgh so commercialised!

Many think it is wrong for a cosplayer to charge photographers to take photographs of them. In another word, they think it's wrong to get paid for taking photos in cosplay costumes. If that's the case then I'm guilty as charged. For I too got paid to cosplay for the CosPa booth. And of course, the job includes letting people take pictures of me in the costume.

And I know I’m not alone. Many other cosplayers in the community have been offered various part time jobs related to Cosplays too.

Photo by jerome santos

   Like the example someone illustrated, if a make up artist who loves to make up charges others to do their make up for them. Is it wrong too?

   I seem to observed that 'Cosplay' is the only hobby that reacts so vehemently towards commercialization. It's almost like saying a boy who is obsessed with soccer should never aspire to become a full time soccer player. Because if a hobby becomes a job it taints your passion for it and gives the mass public a wrong image.

   Which randomly brings me to this point. Somehow those in this community tend to segregate those who are NOT. Kinda like harry potter and the muggles world, get what I mean? I don't know if its an intentional intent or a subconscious action. But we tend to not want to let people outside know more about us. . . me included. *shrug* Well, this is just my loose observation with no statistics backing so . . . . take it with a pinch of salt.

Anyway, back to the issue. Do I feel its ok?

Well, I don't think its a Hey cool, let's do it okay?” sort of okay but rather a “Hey, we can't stop the big flow okay?“ sort of okay.


And why do I say so?

Because for ANY sort of activity to gain popularity and be longstanding in our current times. Commercial backing IS NECESSARY. Do you think our local circle would have expanded this much if we had stuck to just For fans by fans?

AFA_Nov09 009

As much as I missed the old days where the community was so small everyone knew each other by name. We have to face the fact that no, staying fan-based wouldn't see the magnitude it is now. Which means no May'n , no ShokoTan, no Ichiro, no Yui Makino and definitely no Kaname.

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Did a lousy job manipulating this blurry pic =\ Forgive me for looking so horrible, I had a very long day.

I can still remember those days where all the anime fans in Singapore felt so despondent and hopeless about ever meeting their favourite Seiyuu or becoming a Mangaka. Now the opportunities suddenly seemed endless and we are given a chance to participate.

Also, if a Photographer were to earn money by shooting photographs of Cosplayers, would we or other photographers penalize them as much? Apparently that is the case here, from what one of the Cosplayer commented, it seems like this photo shoot was organised by a photographer with an entrepreneur’s brainwork. And the cosplayers were engaged as a ‘model’ for a photo shoot with the ‘Cosplay’ theme.

Having individuals earn from this hobby is nothing new. Before we go all high and mighty about letting this hobby stay ‘un-commercialized’ look at those around us who are selling all sorts of Cosplay costumes, apparels, merchandises, beauty products and services. Even you or I might have benefitted in a way or two by selling our old costumes or wigs.

Miyuki Animation Club 2002. omg...damn cui lah T_T

   If we went back to how Cosplay was like in the old days. We wouldn’t have access to cheap china costumes, we wouldn’t have as much costume making tailors, we wouldn’t have access to cheap wigs that we can style and throw. Not to mention no access to cheap and gorgeous Geo contact lenses everyone loves.

   Such incidents are by-products of this evolution, just some individuals banking in on the novelty. If we want the rainbows, we have to bear with the rain. It’s a changing of times and if you can keep up, you can get a share of the pie. Get what I mean? 

So let us ask ourselves again, Is commercialization really bad?


 2.Who are they to charge?

Then, there are those who knit their brows not over the '’shooting fee’ but over the fact that the quality of the cosplayers don’t measure up to their standards and are not qualified to expect payment.

Now, this is one debating point I find most interesting and crudely humane xD  One of the most honest opinion imho. I can’t be bothered to comment more on this point so I’ll leave the judging to you guys but my stand is simple.


I am but a nobody, I don’t like being judged (even though there’s no escaping it) so I don’t judge others either.


3.It’s unfair to the Photographers!

Is it really?


Well I guess it would be, if the Photo shoot was held at a Cosplay Event like Cosfest, Eoy or AFA. But it seems like it will be a normal private Photoshoot held at some secluded place. Meaning to say, the photographers will get the 2 cosplayers all to themselves.

So, instead of looking upon this as payment for Cosplaying. Why don’t we look upon it as a payment for the 2 cosplayer’s time and effort?

Back to the unfair point. Well, if a photographer has tonnes of connections with Cosplayers and get invited to a Cosplay Photoshoot every other week, then of course he or she won’t  want to fork out money for this. But we’re now talking about a bunch of photographers who probably has only shot still life, models and cosplayers at events and are looking forward to something different. In another words, they are paying for the novelty experience and dedicated time of the cosplayers.

Paying isn’t totally bad either. Because now the photographers own every rights to the picture =) So no complains from random cosplayer on the alley about rude photographers posting un-glam pictures of them online and the Photographers can use the photos on their portfolio as they wish xD


4.It brings a negative image to cosplay

Yeah it probably does. But only to the Cosplay Community members. Those outside don’t give a damn and have no basis for judgment.

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Ugly eating habits = bad image for cosplay

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    Why do I say “no basis for judgment” ? Because those who have no prior experience or knowledge of the hobby won’t be able to judge or critic it, get what I mean? To them, it just meant, if you want dedicated photoshoot/time with those people in fancy costumes(Cosplayers), you need to pay. They are spoon fed this idea and won’t make as much noise as we presumed they would.

    The only ones complaining are those within this community because we know more about the hobby. And I can’t blame them either as my butt is also on the fence for this point. We’ve all become so attached to this highly ‘specialised’ hobby and its hard not to let our feelings interfere.

Smoking and snot digging = bad image for cosplay







I can’t believe I wasted so much time on this entry! Totally got carried away *palms forehead*. I’m getting tired of this entry so I’m going to go ahead and conclude myself.

I think it’s pretty unfortunate for the cosplayers involved but no tissue paper from me because well, like what I’ve mentioned above. Its a decision they made themselves so they have to face the consequences themselves too.

Even though getting paid to Cosplay is not a capitol crime but the format of it wasn’t tactful enough and angered many.

One thing though, thumbs up from me to the Cosplayers involved for continuing with the project despite all this shit. They might have moved a morally arguable step but at least they kept their promise to the photographer. It’s so much easier to back down and retract their words but they didn’t =)


Angel said…
Ooo wah~ shinjiranai~

You still manage to drag up that old photo!
Hexlord said…

songster69 said…
Photographers would pay for a controlled environment and shoot. They are also paying as it may not be a full "cosplay" shoot but more of a modeling session. So in this case, the cosplayers may not get the type of pix they want but at least they get compensated for their time and effort.

Just my two cents ;)
angel: hurhurhur I got older ones. But the pics don't show as much of an 'event' feel

Hexlord: :D

Songster: Yeah I guessed as much. Glad to hear from a pure photographer's pov. =)
Jason said…
speaking from a photographer's point of view, i think it's really dependent on which party is in demand more. sometimes, a model is very well-known for being good in front of cameras.. so photographers won't mind paying to shoot them to build their portfolios or simply to get good photos.. at other times, some photographers can be highly sought after, and people pay them to take photos of them instead to build their model portfolios...

it's ultimately who's better will get paid... i guess cosplayers wanting to get some money from shots can be reasonable since many of them are still students... meaning they don't get that much money to make those elaborate costumes... being self sustaining through modeling to continue the hobby is harmless i guess... just my 1 cent worth of opinion..
RayWing said…
To be honest, my initial reaction is "wtf?"

But then, after giving it a few more thoughts...

It's not like anyone's bringing a gun and pointing to the photographers' heads to force them to participate in the shoot.

Value is all in perception. If they feel the money is well-spent, so be it. If they don't feel worth it, then don't pay for it, and don't turn up at the shoot. Simple as that.
landlady said…
Haa. At the big hooha. I would say it's their choice to do it as the way it is like "modelling" for tons of Hobby-photographers to shoot and for themselves to earn some cash. But they do not know the "consequences" that are being brought to the cosplay community.

MY POINT OF VIEW CONSEQUENCES TO THE COSPLAY COMMUNITY(I do not speak for all, it's my personal opinions mind you people reading the comments): Public aka the 'I don't know what cosplay is about' people will deem cosplay as a bad image like link to modelling; link to FHM style. And blah. Remember the big hooha on FHM on SHANA? I think if parents are to see it, guess the younger hobbists in this cosplay hobby will be classify as bad kids or peers.

Just want to say that I would feel that cosplay is still a healthy hobby as long as you could keep your sterling wheel straight and don't make a turn to fame and nothingness in the end.

As for the photographers, they know they can shoot for free at events. Since it's an exclusive shoot, and they are willing to pay, I think it's up to their mindset to PAY in it.

I would prefer the "give" and "take" way working for cosplayers and photographers. I'm sure most cosplayers have a few photographers they go to for photoshoot. I think it's a double-win situation in it. First, cosplayers get to show their effort in the photos shot by the photographers. Secondly, photographers gain a different level and view in photography as cosplay photography is different from model and landscape photography. Win-win situation. Of course, both cosplayers and photographers must be comfortable working for each other.

Well I think I blabber off-topic. But just whatever.
Yuan said…
There are other models out there that photographers have to pay in order for photoshoot too...

For any cosplayers who gets paid for photography: as long as they feel that they have enough experience, can pose well and according to their anime/manga title, cosplay skills is gooda then the money is well earned with good conscious and sense of satisfaction.

For photographers: As long as they are willing to pay for the phototaking experience with the cosplayers then everything's fine. Its just like when they pay to photoshoot a model. Some of them might not even know much about the model/cosplayers, but when they are happily doing this for their own interest, no regrets, and they trust the cosplayers in terms of modeling/costume/etc then everything's ok.

Overall, the cosplayers are much like paid models for photoshoot. A model can also dress up in cosplay costumes for photoshoot. vice versa. As long as everyone happy at the end of session, everything's ok with me.

Just my 3 cents worth of opinions.. heh. I like all the old photos you post up yo ~ Interesting topic from you too ;)
o--ni said…
At first glance my impression was totally negative about this paid shoot thingy, but after some thoughts to it, I dun think there’s anything bad to it. I think most of the peps just can’t adapt to this new idea.

Anyway I just pop in to say thanks for the lengthy insight, for someone who’s too busy for msn and events. (AFA- T___T can’t go) I read your stuff quite frequently to update myself about the scene.

+1 for the nostalgic photo
Anonymous said…
My 1st reaction? "WAH LIAO EH. WHAT SHIT IS THIS?' as u can see from ur msn.
Anyway, i think if the photogs really like the cosers and pay for them to be shot in private it's ok. or Csoers getting hire willingly is ok too. Perfectly fine since cosing can be a profession. But to charge $40 per person for a shoot like this. I think is over charging lar. Anyway, my narrow main thought is. WHY THEM? of all the cosers out there in sg. LOL THERE IS KAIKA! HELLO?

Personally, i think we should be paying for photogs to shoot us not the other way round since they do it for us voluntarily and with much effect plus they always try to cater with our requests.
my random thoughts.
noodles said…
As a photographer I do not mind although 40 dollar seems too much. This depends on how skilled they are in modelling.

As someone who enjoys watching people cosplay, I am appalled. Someone has mentioned above that cosplay could have scandalous association and I do not want that to happen.

Ultimately, as long as the above does not happen and photographers wishes to do so, it is fine. Afterall, a photoshoot is very different from cosplay events where lightening is hard to control and unwanted elements are in the background.
Anonymous said…
I agreed with Zeph on the part where it should be another round meaning instead of asking the photographer to pay, we should be paying them for the effort in helping us taking photos.

To me, it's more like photographers spend time and effort to help cosplayers take photos. There is quite a few times where photographer even fork out money to pay for cosplayers drink and taxi fee when cosplayers don't have enough money and don't ask for anything in return. I really appreciate very much on the fact that they help the ps and even so called welfare.

There is no right of wrong for cosplay being commercial. After all, it's just a different way of viewing things actually. It's quite similar to the cosplay competition also where people view cosplay competition as something negative. Like contestant are all for $ and prizes. But without any competition, what is there to watch on stage for AFA 2009
Evilneo said…
Personally (as a non-cosplayer), I feel there is nothing wrong because:

1) Both willing parties - Stated very clearly beforehand it is a paid photoshoot. Photographers have the option of not joining in the first place if they feel it is wrong or uncomfortable with it. Unless it wasn't stated and cosplayers started extorting money at the end of the day then it might be wrong. In fact, I see that the responses for participation are pretty good.

2) Dun really create problems for cosplayers - If the norm become all photoshoots need to be paid, it doesn't really affect cosplayers who doesn't want to their hobby to be tainted cos they can always stick with their principle and do it for free even when they are offered the money and they have nothing to lose.

3) Wun really create a bad impression for cosplay as a hobby - Maybe SG is too small so we dun have professional cosplayers since there isn’t much biz opportunity for them to become one. But, I think in Japan it is pretty common and they are being paid for various shoots etc. Of course, it doesn’t mean we have to follow Japan. But generally speaking all forms of hobbies have evolved into a money making venue for some ppl. Morally, I dun think there is any problem with that. And, what is a better way to earn money thru doing something you like unless it is illegal.

I think what most cosplayers are worried about might be wat kind of things diff ppl might do thru cosplay for the sake of money that will end up associating back to them. A very common example will be the FHM “Shana cosplay” in lingerie. But, is that cosplay to you? It is a No to me. If Yes, then I feel it does somehow reflect badly on the hobby since tat isn’t what cosplayers are doing wearing sexy lingerie and going to event. However, it is indeed hard to draw a clear line due to how diff ppl perceive the term cosplay. But, I believe ppl who are able to appreciate cosplay will know what the hobby is all about instead of changing their impression of it.

4) Focus should be more on their cosplay rather than the money – I think Kaname also accept money for certain shoots and attending several events but I dun really see anyone saying anything bad abt him cos beside being shuai, he also treated cosplay seriously and very particular in terms of characters selection, accuracy of costumes, wigs, props, makeup and mannerism etc. So shldn’t the focus be on whether the 2 cosplayers have done a good job for their characters?

Like I said, I am a non-cosplayers so I dun really noe what are the problems cosplayers might be really facing so these are just my opinions based of my understanding of this issue.
Unknown said…
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