Ever wondered if it’s alright or not to take photos of Japanese cosplayers at a cosplay event?
You need to be careful because some cosplayers don’t like people taking photos of them. As one of those Japanese cosplayers, I’m here to introduce the golden rules of cosplay photo-shooting at Japanese cosplay events.
All of the above photos were taken in public spots. In Japan, many cosplay events are held in public parks, beaches, and amusement parks where you can find not only the cosplayers but the general public as well. Many people are not used in seeing cosplayers and they usually ask us to take a photo with them.
Many, however, seem reluctant. They are probably thinking if it’s alright to talk to us and ask us for a photo.
Q1. Is it okay to talk to cosplayers at an event?
Yes, it’s fine. I can be sometimes shy and look embarrassed when someone not involved with the event talks to me, but no cosplayers would feel bad about it.
When someone asks me questions like ‘Do you have a cosplay event today?’ or ‘Which show is your cosplay from?’, I am rather pleased to see that they are interested in cosplay or if they recognized the show.
However, that doesn’t mean that all the cosplayers can communicate in English. I’m afraid many Japanese cosplayers can’t reply back and get confused or even rattled.
In that’s the case, then try using only a few words like, ‘Today, Cosplay Event?’ or ‘Which anime?’. This way even cosplayers who are not proficient in English may understand you better. Or use a few words in Japanese, like ‘Kyou (Today), Kosupure (Cosplay) ibento (Event)?’ or ‘Sakuhin (Show), nani (what)?’
Another way is to write down what you want to say on a piece of paper and show it to us. Most Japanese are bad at listening but it’s always easier to read English words. Typing on a smartphone and showing it to us would work too. Maybe Google Translate? Even though the translations are not always accurate! Please try something easy and be patient so we understand each other!
Q2. Is it okay to take a photo of a cosplayer who is there for the event?
The answer to this question is not straightforward. It depends. The most important thing to consider is whether you have the permission of the cosplayer or not. It is perfectly fine to take a photo after asking them. It’s never fine to do so without it.
As a general rule, only the professional photographers attending the event are allowed to take photos of the cosplayers. General visitors are not allowed to take photos of cosplayers without permission, and the event staff will usually stop you if you try. Why? Such photos are uploaded without the cosplayers permission and they may also be used in an improper way.
It’s natural that people find cosplayers on the street interesting, but it’s very uncomfortable to have your photo taken without noticing it. Imagine when we do notice it and it’s without our permission!
However, when you talk to a cosplayer and get her permission, it’s perfectly fine to take a memorial photo. As a matter of fact, many cosplayers in anime costumes of kids’ shows often allow photos together with the kids. If you want to take a photo, please ask the cosplayers for permission first.
Also, you shouldn’t just upload the photo on your social networks. People want to share their photos and I can understand that, but wouldn’t you find it uncomfortable to find your own photo on a tweet or an Instagram post? If you want to share the photo, please ask the cosplayer for their permission before uploading it on your account. Make sure that the cosplayers actually give you the green light. They may actually like the photo so much that they will ask you to tag them!
If you want to try asking in Japanese, say ‘写真を撮ってもいいですか？/Shashin wo totte mo iidesu ka? (May I take a photo?)’, ‘SNSに投稿してもいいですか？/SNS ni toukou shite mo iidesu ka? (May I upload it to a social network?)’
Q3. What if the cosplayer doesn’t reply or refuses a photo?
I’d imagine the reason could be either they did not understand you well, or the timing was just wrong or inconvenient. Most of the times the biggest problem is the language barrier. It won’t be a problem when the cosplayers are good in English, but like I mentioned earlier in Q1, most cosplayers aren’t proficient in the language. It’s not easy for us to talk back in a foreign language; we can get very nervous!
We generally feel pleased to see foreigners trying to communicate with us, and I’m sure most cosplayers will try to understand you. Please try to talk in writing or on a smartphone. You could also use a dictionary or a translation service on your smartphone for better results!
Cosplayers have different reasons for refusing photos. Some only accept the event’s official photographers, and some may want to avoid repeating previous bad experiences. Some just refuse because they can’t communicate. No matter what the reason is, once the cosplayer says no, you must not take their photo even if you avoid shooting their face. No means no!
That doesn’t mean that all the cosplayers will give you their permission, nor does it mean that all the cosplayers will say no. Try talking to the cosplayers and see. And it’s important to not take refusals personally. The cosplayers don’t know you and there is nothing personal in saying no. Just move on to the next cosplayer and try to enjoy the event!
Always remember that the cosplayers attending the events have many responsibilities and their time is limited. Make sure that after you get their permission, you don’t spend an eternity taking the perfect picture. It’s fine to get a second or third shot (watch for that focus!) but please avoid wasting the cosplayer’s time with long photo-shoots.
Respect the Cosplayers
Make sure to ask for permission before taking a photo and before uploading the photo on the internet or a social network, and most cosplayers will accept your photo requests! We may get nervous at first, but if when you attend a cosplay event, please feel free to talk to us. Let’s enjoy the event together!