Over the weekend I went to a mini-con, Chibi Pa Sampler III. I took quite a few pictures of cosplayers and of the location. Upon returning home and loading the pictures on the memory card, I realized my pictures were AWFUL.
My photos aren't usually pro-quality, but the photos from this weekend weren't even decent! They were sub-par, because I know I could have taken better pictures if I had paid attention to what I was doing.
At cons, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement and start snapping away at every great cosplay you see. In the end, you'll end up like I did: disappointed and making a list of things they could have done better. This guide is a list of things I should have done, so you can learn from my mistakes.
- Pay attention to your surroundings: Be aware of what's in the background before taking a shot. Objects or people behind your subject can distract from an otherwise good photo. Try to wait until people stop walking into your shot to take the photo, find a less populated area, or ask them to wait until you're finished.
- Adjust your settings: AUTO mode isn’t always the best choice for indoor shots. If your camera has modes, try finding one for indoor photos. Low Light modes are a last resort for me, since it really degrades the quality depending on your camera.
If you have Manual mode, adjust your shutter speed. The shutter speed is how long the shutter on the camera stays open to let in light. The more light there is, the less time it needs to stay open. This is no problem in sunlight, but indoors or in darker areas it’s important to have a shutter speed above 1/60th. Anything below 1/60th of a second will be blurry if you aren’t using a tripod.
- Avoid using Flash: Used incorrectly, flash makes everything look bright and flat because the light is too harsh. Not only this, but many costume materials do not photograph well under flash. Satin materials, as well as vinyl, will be bright white blobs. That is extremely unattractive. I advise you to turn the flash off on your camera before photographing anything.
- Check after every couple of shots: This allows you to retake the shot if you feel it isn't what you would like before you leave the area. It reduces the need for backtracking, a lot. Be warned, your camera's LCD may not be very accurate. My photos often look sharp on the LCD, but are actually blurry on my computer screen. Zooming into a 100% view is best.
- Don't just stand there: While I took photos, I knelt down. Why? Because, your subject should be in the viewer's line of sight. When standing, your line of sight will be different than the one in the photo. Kneeling down can give you new angles, and allow you to match up your line of sight in the photo.
- Focus on the eyes: Focus on the eyes of your subject. I'm not quite sure why, but it's disconcerting when the eyes are out of focus. Excusing my bald dolly model and completely unedited images, compare this image "bad" image to this one "good"one.
- Keep your images straight: Crooked lines can be very distracting in an image, so make sure everything is straight and aligned when you take your shot-- even in the background.
How to Achieve Great Indoor Photography Results
Getting your Images Straight – Watch your Lines