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.
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.