I am a guy. It really perturbs me that people use feminine terms for stuff that does not need those terms, I am not talking about “fireperson” and watching “David Letterperson interview Sarah Silverperson.”
I am talking about terms like “gamer girls” and such. There are no hotties at a con. There are no hot chicks, no one is boobalicious or eye-candy. Do not mistake me, there are attractive people at conventions to be sure, but they are people, YOUR people if you are a valuable person. These people with double X chromosomes are respect-deserving and genius smart to know how to take the non-euclidean shape of the body, look at it in a planar form like cloth and mold the right size, colors, fabrics, patterns, knots, stitches, clasps, and accessories to provide a uniform for art. Many times they, much like an art forger, must come so close to the original that one is left in awe as to their skill and ability to re-invent the wheel so effectively it becomes difficult in determining who copied whom.
Every time I take a picture of anyone, male or female at a Convention, I always ask them. Not because I am being polite, although that is a part of it as well, but because at the Con, although it is considered expected to be photographed, it is really only appropriate to take a picture of a person in Cosplay…if you ask.
My want to get the best picture available prohibits me from taking what I will call “paparazzi-style” shooting at a Con. I have seen people run up, shoot a shot, and run to the next person with no regard to the person they are shooting and it is the kind of thing I expect to see dirty old men do.
At Space City Con in Autumn 2013, I found someone following so close behind me to get a picture of the back of Jewel Staite’s head that I am positive, my manly cleavage is bound to be in a couple of his outtakes. I was certain that he did not ask her, because he did not aim his camera beyond lifting it above his head, and frankly because I kept putting my big head in the shot to block the shot. Even if she had not been a celebrity guest, it was still rude that he was camera stalking the cute girl. Check your shot before someone wrecks your shot, I thought.
Yes, I too also end up with a couple of fuzzy shots in my folders at the end of the day due to shooting the inside of my pocket or looking at my face as I wipe the lens clean, but I also end up with great shots where I know that the actor is prepared for the picture and gets to pose as their character and put their best side forward.
If they have a tear or a rip or some difficulty with their makeup, they are going to know how to adjust their pose to make the costume just that much more awesome for the great shot. Sometimes they are just moving through a line with the helmet off or the weapon unslung due to ease of movement, breathing or general comfort, so you want to give them a couple seconds to prepare. In one case, the person’s mask was so prone to fogging that he held his breath, so I give them a second to get in character.
Then there comes up the problem of the staring. While I admit that hot girls tend to get the lion’s share of the staring, it happens on the other side of the spectrum too. Non-popular people like to know their costume is appreciated and they always work just as hard as the rest of their shapelier counterparts. The funny thing is that I have found that the rounder costumes tend to get missed in favor of more traditional shapes, and thus when they are shared around the Net, the softer actors tend to come off as Web-exclusives and are great for linking new fans to your site.
If you doubt that ugly art gets just as many (if not more) hits, then do not look up Hannah Hoch, Salvador Dali, or Pablo Picasso, as it might blow your ever-loving mind away.
Not all art is cosplay, but all cosplay is art.
Always say something nice afterward. Sometimes it is a bow of reverence to their skill, sometimes it is just the words “thank you.” If you are that driven to need a picture, show it to the artist. Let them be treated as a piece of art, not a centerfold in a porno mag. A high five works just as well if both parties are willing. Ask questions about the art or artist, like “how long does it take just to prepare for that in the morning?” Or “how do you deal with the layers in this heat?” Because these people have decisions that go into their artwork, let them geek out over the costume. They think it is just as awesome as you do. This is why they have worn the costume to the event. They are fans who want to be as for their hobbies, crafts, and fandom as you do.
And for goodness sake, NEVER challenge a model about their fandom, whether they dress as Batgirl, Jabba, Gen 13 or the Blob. It only encourages you to miss out on their next artistic endeavor when they take their awesomeness to another con instead or just “skip it this year” to avoid the hassle. The very fact they dressed up as the character means they are a fan. Period! They are more of a fan than you because they cared enough to deconstruct and reconstruct the costume and make the dream a reality. Testing is bullying, and nothing more. Never question someone about their cosplay or fandom.
Firefly actress Jewel Staite said her heroes are “people who make their passion their job.” Well, these fans are making their passion their job to entertain as well.
And let me clarify that it is not only men towards women who get challenged as worthy to be fans of something. It happens the same way sex happens, MM, MF, FF, FM. I have seen all four. If anyone asks me “what issue X appears in,” my answer will be the one where you get mocked horrendously by me for the rest of Con EVERY time I pass you in the halls.
In conclusion, Cosplay is awesome and, while we only see the finished product, there are lots of people who fail along the way, so the finished product that you do see shows the product of a well-earned, well-admired, and well-crafted product, so if I ask with big eyes and a huge smile to take a photograph, it is usually with the words, “That is totally awesome.” Expect a high–five if you can, because I wish I were as cool as the person with the drive, heart, and crafting skill who mastered the textile craft.