Some photographers end up using a lot of stock photography, and sadly many of the stock photography sites out there can be pretty lame. The pictures are not what you want to use, the keyword system does not cough up what you are looking for, and in other ways they simply don’t have what you are looking for.
The good part is that there is an excellent alternative to stock photography sites for some of the work you want to do. One of them is Deviant Art, especially if you are looking for fantasy backgrounds for your images like the one we used for our cover picture for this article. It is a stock background from Shinobinaku from deviant art who left this beautiful arch for people to use for their stock photography needs.
Below is a short video on how to use deviant art for stock photography.
Some ideas though you need to be aware of.
Not all stock photography is free for any use, sometimes the people who make the images want final editorial approval of the image, other times they want to make sure you are not using it for any commercial purposes (this includes advertising on your web site if you use it). There are other restrictions that people put up that can kill off the creative flow.
While at times you want to just say screw it, it is better to ignore any stock photography that comes with any encumbrances to your creative output. If they want final creative say so, or no commercial purposes, respect that and move on even if it was the best background creative image you could imagine. In the longer run it is not worth the hassle.
I hope you like the video, the audio is a little weak, so you might need to turn up the volume.
2013 Year in Review for Studio5Graphics Top 10 Galleries
2013 is basically going down as the best year ever for sales, views, gallery show, and love. It has been a great and wonderful year and all because people found me and decided they liked what I was doing. Of course there are a lot of Y-Chromosome pictures this year, but also some surprise sleeper hits along the way. Overall this is has been my best year, and I owe it all to you, a couple of walled gardens, some of the most amazing models to walk the planet, and finding time to do this.
Top 10 Most Popular Galleries for the year
1. Chantal Water Nymph – one of the most stunningly wonderful and talented models I worked with this year coming in at 200,000 picture views for the gallery alone.
2. Steamcon V Cosplay – the most outrageously fun three days I had this year was at Steamcon and you should go if you get the chance clocking in at 122,000 picture views
e in a Bikini – this was the surprise sleeper hit of the year, taken over another photographers shoulder and just hanging out because I was between models, the lovely Angee is clocking in at 86,000 picture views. I am sure this will tick off the primary photographer but then there we are, this happens when you are at a group shoot.
4. Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con 2013 – they let me hang out with the regular show photographers and ended up with thousands of amazingly cool pictures. They were surprised that a photographer would show up from the west coast, so the good folks at Wizard World made me feel right at home and I can’t thank them enough for that. They are clocking in at 82,000 picture views.
5. Pinup Model Anika in front of an Impala – beautiful model, beautiful car clocking in at 66,000 picture views for the year. Sometimes you have to choose between the car and the girl, in this photo set you didn’t have to.
7. Grid Girl Rebel – ok, anyone who has shot Rebel knows that she is one of the most amazing young ladies out there. She runs Femme LTD here in Seattle getting people together so that they can make cool art and pictures. She clocks in at 61,000 picture views, which in my opinion just isn’t enough, she is that amazing.
9. M.O.d and a Vintage Car – I know she didn’t like some of these, but darn it I am not photoshopping out things in a picture, or otherwise. The only thing I am using photoshop for is balancing color and exposure or resizing an image. She is a wonderful pers
10. Pinup Model Inspired – wonderful, simply a wonderful young lady and probably goes into the top 10 list of people who I really think are simply very cool for 2013. She clocks in at 54,000 picture views for the year.on to begin with and she clocks in at 57,000 picture views.
Those are just the galleries; I really should wait for a couple of days before I really start cranking the full end of year numbers for total picture views. But simply put it has been a wonderful year for having people taking a look at pictures, and buying pictures, along with my first gallery show this has just simply been one of the coolest years I could have. Just a big shout out to everyone involved, you are all part of this and should feel warm fuzzy along the way.
I had an opportunity to do some Cosplay photography at Wizard World Philadelphia and literally had a blast. It is the rare show where all I have to do is run around and take pictures of the cosplayers, and generally get to have fun at the convention. I went as a private person, not affiliated with Wizard World in any way. Surprisingly I found that I didn’t post this set up, and I should have a while back.
Wizard World is one of the larger industrial comic book and pop culture conventions on the planet. They do multiple conventions but this was my first time there. The good part is that the show literally let me run around on the main floor taking all the pictures I wanted. I teamed up with the official photographer group for the Cosplay contest, and the Imperial Star Wars sets. The fun part was that as the show went along it was amazingly cool to run around and just take pictures of people on the floor, some candid’s, and otherwise get involved with the show in a way that was much more entertaining than a general person visiting the show.
The thing I was most impressed by was that the Cosplayers really just owned their own Cosplay. There was none of the snarky BS that I have seen at other shows where purity matters. No these people took the idea, and then made them theirs. From Black Superman all the way through the Doctor Who process, people were dressed up and ready to show off. There were some professional cosplayers there as well to help people feel more comfortable dressing up and showing off, and that made a huge difference in how the Cosplay kept on going throughout the three day show.
In all Wizard World Philly ended up being a really fun event to just go run around and take pictures of. If you are working on getting into Cosplay photography, take a 55-200MM lens with you, and you do want the UV Filter for bump protection along the way. Take a flash but use it as a fill rather than as a primary light source. Your white balance should be set to the incandescent lamps that are used all over convention centers. If you decide to take pictures outside, remember to set your white balance back to daylight full sun. You might also want to take something like an 18-105 lens as well for the larger group shots, as you can see in the pictures, when you get to the group shots of 100’s you want to have the widest angle possible to try to get everyone into the same shot.
I think I have taken a few thousand pictures of Frostess over the last year, and she is also one of my favorite models out there. I got an opportunity to work with her doing a little bit of cosplay with a screaming hot car to go along with it. She had put on a partial silver spectre cosplay for the grid girl photo shoot and it worked out very well. The black and yellow worked with the vintage car helping set a great mood for the entire set. Frostess is over on Model Mayhem and her number is 2290334. The key to working with Frostess is that you have to work the images softly, her skin is really transparent, and so you really can’t get away with making the images harsh using Clarity (maybe a recommended setting of clarity 2, better at 10 to 20). The color balance with her is also interesting; you want to jack the whites while you are at it to get an awesome image.
These images were taken with a Nikon D5100, 18-105 portrait lens with a 62MM polarizer because of the over cast day. Also had a gold reflector aimed at her because of the overcast and how I wanted the yellows to pop in her cosplay. Overall the effect I was looking for worked here, I wanted something more dark and noir than the standard glamour shot.
And that is where it gets to be interesting, if you are working with a model, it always helps to try to discuss what you want to do at all times. Frostess and myself had talked about doing something cosplay for a while before this photo shoot so everything just clicked nicely when we got to this point in the group shoot with Femme Photo LTD. Otherwise, I hope these are helping you get better options with your photography, drop me a note, let me know what you think.
Sakuracon is one of my favorite events to take pictures at. The amazing number of people there in Cosplay is always fun to see, and take pictures of. There is always something interesting about taking pictures at an event like Sakuracon. One the kids and their parents are generally awesome, and there is an etiquette about taking pictures at a show like this.
The first thing to remember, most of these people are under age, so you have to make sure that you ask their parents if it is ok to take their pictures. I have always found it good to ask in general, and to make sure that you are not “creepy guy with camera” have your photography cards handy. Make sure you give out your photography cards to anyone who asks for it.
Sakuracon has ejected photographers in the past for being too much creepy guy with camera, and not enough care being paid attention to the people you are taking pictures of. Sakuracon has a pretty intense photography policy that professional photographers should pay attention to, to make sure that they are following the rules. People get really nervous when a person is taking pictures of their kids in costumes. And some of the anime costumes can be a bit revealing.
Your best bet when taking pictures at a show like this is to make sure you are being totally cool. If they say no, go with that and just go find someone else to take pictures of. There will be professional cosplayers there, so you can go take pictures of them.
Here are some of my favorite pictures from Sakuracon 2012 if you are interested in checking them out.
Above all, be cool, follow the rules, ask, hand out your card to everyone, and have a great weekend taking event pictures. Be every aware that many of the people there are underage, so make sure you are in contact with their parents before doing anything.
And for the love of everything, if there is another catastrophic costuming failure when taking a picture of someone, it is your responsibility to stop taking picture, and make sure you delete them off your camera.
Event photography is probably one of the more fun things I get the opportunity to do. There is a lot of enjoyment running around a convention taking pictures of the Cosplay that you get to see, because the people who wear Cosplay really try hard to be as accurate as possible with their costumes, and generally just want to have some fun with it. Event photography is also fairly easy as many people want to have their pictures taken for later use. All the events I go to the pictures are Creative Commons, just mention my name or send me a link back and life is wonderful. The cooler part is that given that the pictures are Creative Commons about 90% of the people who use the pictures later on also do link back and give me the credit for the pictures. There is a wonderful synergy between photographers who hand out their cards so that people can find the pictures later, and the actual use that those pictures have online.
Usually I run around with the camera set in Aperture mode, with a flash using a Gary Fong diffuser on my larger flash. Since most of the pictures are taken inside and outside that setting just makes it easier to go on the fly letting the camera do the work while I try to keep photo bombing out of the process. You will get the back of people’s heads, body parts, hands, and blurry pictures if you are not paying attention not only to the crowds, but to the generally bad lighting or harsh stark lighting. Most of the Con’s here in Seattle take place in the early spring or late fall, indoors and outdoors, lighting is what you bring with you to smooth out what the venues provide.
This is from Akicon 2012, you can see from the various lighting sources, indoor fluorescent, indoor bulb, and outdoor stark light from the sun with heavy shadows that this event was difficult to photograph. It is fairly easy to get a press pass for the smaller events, but you really do owe it to the event to share the pictures once they are done. Sharing means the event organizers and the event attendees see your work and you stand a much better chance of getting back in to the show in subsequent years. You also get the benefit of feedback from the people so you can improve your work, and you get the benefit of them sharing your pictures to help build up your name.
Good publicity and the ability to get into the events that is the important part, working on your photography also helps along the way. You will get a unique experience at shows and events, ones that are far removed from the controlled environments of the photo studio.
Well Steamcon Four is coming along in two weeks, and the negotiations for being one of the Staff Photographers has finally been hammered together. If you have not been to anything Steamcon ever, Steamcon in Bellevue is a good place to get started, and learn a bit about the culture and see all the cool things that people come dressed as.
So how do you become a Staff Photographer at an event? Or how do you even get a press pass? It depends on the event, and both carry a lot of obligations for the photographer, so make sure you are up to what I think your obligations are. Of course depending on the event, those obligations will vary, but one of the most common things I have seen with a press pass or a staff badge is that no one talks about the show online in a meaningful way. They don’t post the pictures they took of the event anywhere, which kind of short circuits the reason for getting any kind of official credential at a show.
A press pass or a Staff badge obligates you to posting the pictures you took, even if was only one picture that came out ok. It obligates you talking about the show and helping out with some of the PR or publicity that a show is doing.
To get a pass, ask, seriously, just ask, show them some of your previous work, and see what they say. They might say “no” if you have never been to an event of theirs before which is also ok. But go anyways, pay for a pass, take pictures, then share the pictures you took with the world. Honestly that is how I got started, by going to Sakuracon in 2005 and just taking pictures of the awesome Cosplay. Seven years later most everyone who goes to anime or comic cons knows who I am, and people seek me out now to take pictures of them.
Always post your work on Flickr, smugmug, deviant art, 500PX, anywhere including Facebook and G+, people are generally really cool about seeing their pictures, and they will want copies. It is really cool when 1000’s of people look at and download your event pictures. Flickr is always your best bet, they have better integration with Google, Deviant Art is your next big bet for Cosplay as they have a huge community dedicated to Cosplay and costuming.
I have seen far too many people with credentials never ever say word one about the show they got the credentials for, and that is pretty not “ok”. I have yet to find a show that did not have a “Flickr pool” or other group photo sharing pool, and if you have credentials, you need to make sure your pictures of their show are up and running and good to go. Even if you only had one picture comes out awesome. You should always post your work; you are there to help them out by getting free access to the show. It is not enough to just show up nod your head, wander around a bit, and then walk out never saying anything about the show at all. They need your help, you are getting in free, and you need to do your work.
Yeah, I have seen this a lot, there are always people who want in free, but won’t talk about, post about, or share their impressions on the show that they got free access to, and that is a shame. Don’t be that photographer; odds are highly likely that the convention needs you to talk about them, especially the smaller ones.
Events are awesome, they are a great way of networking and meeting awesome people, but it is work, it is a job even if you got in free, so make sure you are posting and talking about the show. I have seen photographers, bloggers, and even news journalists not being able to acquire a press pass or staff badge because they have burned through their reputation by getting free stuff, then not paying back with a blog entry or a photograph, so don’t torch your event reputation before you even get started.