Man, I miss the feeling of being able to roll around in bed and sleep for as long as I want. Nowadays, my friends and I haven't been able to experience that even on weekends.
As of now, my brain is too fried to write up a proper journal entry about our volcano GARventure, and one of my usual event reports (as you can see on the right side of my journal) about Cosplay Mania, but I'd like to take this chance to share a part of our lecture of sorts at the Cosmania cosplay workshop last Sunday.
China snowpeachdrop, Kat moonlightflight, El rosiael and I were invited to talk about general cosplay planning, like fabric selection, wig styling, cosplay makeup and photography. My friends might post the other parts, but for now here is our silly guide about posing for cosplay photos, and convention etiquette. The actual presentation was actually longer, and with lots more examples, but here is a condensed rundown of what we talked about, for those who could not be there.
We are only sharing our insights, and are NOT claiming that our way is the absolute truth of the world and that going against it makes you a bad person and you should therefore feel bad about it. You're free to disagree with us and ignore us completely, or you may find your own method based on whatever you might have managed to learn from us.
Cosplay isn't just about the costume; we can't for get about the roleplay part!
An important aspect of cosplay is being able to personify your character through your facial expressions and gestures. It's for this reason that we believe that people ought to really get to know (and hopefully actually like) the character they intend to cosplay. If you're going to invest that time and money on something, better make it worth your while, right? Something that will make YOU happy. But considering that cosplay is a community activity, it's also something that will inevitably expose you to other people. I don't think anyone wants to hear, "OH YOU F&@$#^% POSER HOW DARE YOU DO THAT TO MY FAVORITE CHARACTER!"
When you go to a cosplay event in costume, it's inevitable that people are going to want to take pictures of you. That recorded image is how you will be remembered by the person who took the photo, along with everyone else who might view it (because those pictures usually end up online). I know only a very select few who would prefer to leave people with a bad taste in their mouths rather than good memories.
OKAY, FOR THE SAKE OF THE ILLITERATE, LET'S MOVE ON TO THE PICTURES!
Here, we have China snowpeachdrop as Uzumaki Naruto.
Not very convincing with that blank stare, huh?
Note how the seemingly forced, unnatural smile that is completely out of character for Naruto really just ruins the photo.
Here she is, attempting expressions that Naruto actually makes.
And now, showing Naruto's infectious spunk!
A characteristic Naruto smirk that shows
And now, Kat moonlightflight as Asahina Mikuru.
Again, not being very convincing with a rather bland expression.
Come on, this makes Mikuru look like a High School Musical reject.
Aha! There it is! Mikuru the abused moeblob.
Mikuru can be happy too, but she's a little reserved when it comes to showing emotions. (As opposed to Haruhi who is pretty much always INYOURFACE.)
Don't be afraid to experiment with facial expressions in front of a mirror, and possibly with friends who are willing test subjects. Search for your best angle! Learn to bring out emotions! You don't want to end up like this...
Posing and Body Language
Come on, you guys. We know you can do better than that V-sign/peace sign that's been used and abused over the years. Just try to minimize your use of it, especially if it isn't a trademark pose of your chosen character.
If you're cosplaying British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, by all means, do the V-sign that he made a trademark during World War II!
But DO NOT, I repeat, </I>DO NOT</I> INVERT IT AND DO THE PALMBACK V!
Why, you ask? Time for a little history lesson: In 1941 Winston Churchill made what we now know as the 'V-for-Victory sign' famous. He made no distinction between the forward and palm-back V sign until the latter part of the war when someone probably pointed out he was telling the masses to, "piss off".
It is said that the origin of this gesture was the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. The French greatly outnumbered the British. Their only advantage was the longbow, which was a fairly new weapon at the time. Overconfident, the French threatened to cut off the British longbow archers' two drawstring fingers (index and middle - the same fingers you keep upright when you do the V-sign) once they were defeated. In the end, the British won, and the victorious archers waved their two fingers at the retreating French army in a taunting gesture, as if to say "TAKE THAT, FOTHERMUCKERS! YOUR THREATS WERE EMPTY! WE STILL HAVE OUR FINGERS, BETCHES!"
Meanwhile, others say that this story is just a load of bollocks. Either way, it's considered a rude gesture, and you shouldn't do it.
ostit: TL;DR palmback V-sign = equivalent of the middle finger
Children, this is one of the bad things that the big kids sometimes do.
Okay wait wait, I'll be somewhat serious. Try to avoid doing rude hand gestures for the sake of common decency. Though if it's appropriate for your character (like Onizuka) just be aware of your audience. If there are little kids around, don't do it.
Be careful about how you position your hands, and be aware of the position of the cameras. The foreshortening looks really awkward here, and if people are doing flash photography, there is a chance that your extended hand will catch the flash, leaving your face dark and possibly out of focus.
Flash photography sure is tricky. We must all be careful.
See, isn't it much better when you do more creative poses?
Notice how Kat angles her face, puts on a more Mikuru-like expression and tilts her body instead of just standing there with her face giving the impression of someone getting their passport photo taken.
If you don't have extra props, just utilize your hands! They're capable of more than just V-signs!
You can make use of just one...
Avoid turning to your side and doing poses (like crossing your arms) that hide the details of your costume. The photo on the left looks really static and awkward. China fixes this by angling herself, adjusting the position of her arms and arching her back ever so slightly.
Don't do poses half-heartedly. It shows that you lack confidence. If you don't believe in yourself, others are going to find it hard to believe in you! And again, find the right angle for your face.
BREAKING NEWS! TILTING YOUR HEAD UP DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY MAKE YOU LOOK ALL BADASS AND POWERFUL. All it does is... showcase your nostrils. There's a proper way to do it, though. Practice how to angle your face just right.
GIRLS IN SKIRTS, PLEASE BE CAREFUL WITH SITTING SHOTS. Unmentionables are better off... unmentioned. Kat shows us how you can lessen the risk of perv shots while also staying in character.
Once again, be aware of how your whole body is positioned, while also considering the position of the cameras. In the failed attempt at the Rasengan pose, not only does China end up covering her entire face, her legs and torso are awkwardly poised and her other arm is just dangling there. That's just acting on her part. She knows how to do it right.
The same pose executed with different energy levels. It really makes a difference when you put your heart into it. The fact that you're enjoying yourself will shine right through.
This is why practicing poses (while it might sound rather silly) actually helps. Believe it!
Some basic reminders:
Have three or more possible poses in mind for when people ask for pictures. You don't want to look like a traveling wax figure, popping up at different parts of the con but always just in one pose.
Be aware of how you're angling your face and how your whole body is positioned (no lifelessly dangling arms unless you're cosplaying a zombie).
Friends ought to constantly watch out for each other, making sure that each other's costumes and wigs are still properly in place.
Always take note of the position of the camera, and try to imagine how you might look from the photographer's point of view.
If the photographer isn't going to use flash, be aware of the light source. You don't want the light behind you because you're going to end up as a silhouette with barely distinguishable features. Position yourself in such a way that you'll be properly illuminated, and won't get awkward shadows on your face.
Practice in front of a mirror prior to attending a con! You can do this when you're alone. It might make you feel a bit silly, but it's better than ending up looking silly in front of a whole lot of strangers.
I'm sorry, Deadpool. But apparently, common sense is not quite so common nowadays.
Seriously. It might seem like common sense to those of you who know better, but I would not be writing this if my friends and I did not witness people committing these offenses.
We're all part of such a small community of people who enjoy a certain hobby that might be considered silly by the rest of the great big world. There are those who look down on us as a faction of humanity that rejects reality and likes to prance around in costumes from fantasy worlds. SCREW THEM LALALA FIGHT DA POWAH and all that. Words like that don't matter as long as we manage to have fun, which is the main reason people cosplay and attend conventions. But if this little hobby is going to be a source of drama and conflict then jeezus christ on a stick, we're really going to look pathetic - like a gathering of the socially-inept. Let's show them that we're still capable of being respectable human beings!
COSPLAYERS ARE NOT MASCOTS
Cosplayers aren't paid to stand there and pose for you. Most of us are willing and happy to take pictures with other people but PLEASE ASK. AND DO IT NICELY. By that, I don't mean yelling "HEY LET ME TAKE A PICTURE OF YOU" while forcefully pulling us away from our friends. That's not asking for permission. Asking would entail actually giving the receiving party a choice.
Also, don't force cosplayers into situations that would cause them physical or emotional distress. Don't pressure them to do yaoi or yuri or pose in manners that they aren't comfortable with.
THE WORLD DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND YOU
Please be considerate. If you see a cosplayer engaged in a conversation, it's best to wait until they're done before you ask to take their picture. It would also be a big help if everyone could please PLEASE wait for their turn. It gets really confusing when we're pulled away from each other and don't even know where to look anymore.
Also, WHEN COSPLAYERS ARE EATING, LEAVE THEM ALONE. Do you really want pictures of us while our mouths are full of food? Come on. (Eating time is a very personal time. Please allow us this break.)
BAWWWW OMG BETCH WOULDN'T LET ME GET A PICTURE!!1
If you ask for a photo, and a cosplayer politely declines, let them go. If you aren't a renowned blowhole or pervert, it's probably nothing personal. Like I mentioned above, cosplayers aren't paid mascots. They aren't obligated to pose for you. We have our own lives and our own things to deal with so there are times when posing for a picture is the last thing in our minds.
My friends and I sometimes have to decline requests for photos and ask them if we could postpone it for later for reasons such as:
1. We're not completely dressed yet or our costumes need adjusting. This is because, as much as possible, we hope to look our best for you.
2. We have something urgent to attend to, like setting up our merchandise booth or if we have tasks to carry out (like being a judge or a panelist) during a convention.
3. There is an emergency we need to deal with immediately, such as a friend losing their belongings. Or when the call of nature is particularly strong.
4. You might have caught us speaking to a friend and we would really appreciate if you could allow us to finish our conversation.
5. We feel like we're about to collapse from a combination of starvation and dehydration and would very much like to be excused briefly to replenish our systems in order to stay in the world of the living.
(No. 5 IS THE MOST COMMON OFFENSE!!! To those of you who regularly read my journals, you might know that when it comes to me and my friends, TO KEEP US AWAY FROM OUR FOOD IS A MOST UNHOLY ACT!)
YOUR PRINCIPLES ARE NOT THE SAME AS EVERYONE ELSE'S
As for the people who do not want their pictures taken at all - leave them alone. Nowhere does it say "Upon entering the convention venue in costume, you must subject yourself to the whims of anyone with a camera in their possession." There are some who just enjoy being dressed up as they go around the con, and would prefer not to have complete strangers keep a record of their faces which may end up on the internet or some crazy person's wall.
Just because everyone else is agreeing to have their pictures taken, does not mean that those select few must be forced to follow. Once again - cosplayers are not paid mascots. If they go out of their way to accept your requests and are treat you nicely, it is from the kindness in their hearts and you owe them your thanks.
To camera-wielders: Please try to be understanding.
To cosplayers: If you're going to decline, please do so nicely and perhaps offer a short explanation.
PERSONAL SPACE. HAVE YOU HEARD OF IT?
Respect other people's personal space, especially if you have just met or are only acquaintances. Maintain your distance, keep your hands to yourself and don't hog their attention. Whatever brief interaction you might have made during a convention does not automatically make you LIEK OMG BEST FRIENDS FOREVERRRRRR.
I heard from someone that there was this group hassling my dearest Kat, hovering around her and not giving her a moment of peace when she was doing her best to manage the table. Kat is the kind of person who is just too nice to drive people away, but those disrespectful people ought to have known their boundaries.
Physical contact is a serious matter. For once, yes - SRS BZNS. One wrong move can win you a trip to jail. Or the wrath of an angry boyfriend or girlfriend. Think before you act. If you'd really like a photo with, for example, your arm around the shoulder of your favorite character - ask the cosplayer first. If you'd like a hug, ask first. Keep in mind that there's a chance that the cosplayer will decline certain requests out of respect for their significant others, or whatever other reasons they might have. Do not tackle or glomp people because some people don't enjoy that and may have back problems and you can do serious damage.
People should know general things like how it's not polite and downright demeaning to pat cosplayers' heads or pinch their cheeks even if they are dressed as cute characters. Especially if the cosplayers are older than the guilty party. LEARN SOME F#%ing COMMON DECENCY, CRETINS.
On a somewhat different but still relevant note, if you find yourself fascinated by someone's costume or props, ask before you touch them. If you're given permission, handle them with utmost care. Also, SWEET ANGRY JEEZUS PLEASE DON'T GLOMP OR TACKLE PEOPLE IN ARMOR. Unless they are made with industrial-strength materials, costumes are not as strong as actual armor. It won't protect them on the event that they fall if you tackle them; and it's likely to get damaged even just by a rough hug. It's sad that I have to mention this, but - don't hit people with prop weapons. Those things can still hurt, or you can damage them in the process.
RESPECT PEOPLE'S PRIVACY
Don't pressure people into giving you personal information like phone numbers. Don't ask questions that are too personal. Do I really need to explain this further?
Similarly, it's not polite to hound people into adding your account into their private blog or dA or whatever online account's friend list. Nothing personal really, but it's kind of awkward and insincere to start getting to know someone that way. It's much nicer if, say... You manage to have a nice conversation where you both feel like you get along and mutually decide to keep that bond.
BE KIND TO OTHER CONGOERS
It's great that you get to have fun with your friends and all, but DON'T RUIN OTHER PEOPLE'S FUN IN THE PROCESS. Don't go screaming OMG KAWAII DESU!!!!1 all over the place, wait for your turn to take pictures, don't block walkways if you're a big group, don't make rude, unnecessary remarks... the list goes on. Captain Obvious, yes that's me.
I'm happy that this little guide my friends and I came up with is being received well so far. Hopefully it reaches more people, to the point that we can actually see a significant change in people's behavior at conventions. Hey, I'm a dreamer.
If you'd like to help spread the word, then by all means, feel free to link to this journal entry or quote parts of it. Just don't claim to have written stuff that you did not, it'd be great if you can send me a link, et cetera, you know the drill.