Welcome back! In this installment, we’re going to talk about the fourth-most important thing to consider when photographing cosplay: Angle and Perspective. (If you missed any prior installments: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3.)
Angle and perspective is just what it sounds like – what angle is the camera at relative to the subject, and what perspective does it create?
Here’s an image with a really, really flat/square/straight perspective:
The camera is facing subject straight on, and with little or no angle either horizontally or vertically. This results in a classic portrait-style image, with no part of the cosplayer given particular emphasis (or de-emphasis.) Most of your pictures will be shot like this, for obvious reasons. But like everything else, it needs to be deliberate. If you’re shooting from a classical portrait perspective, then get it right.
Square up. Make sure you’re not too high or too low. If you’re a lot taller than the cosplayer (I almost always am) hunker down a bit. Ideally your lens would be even with the center of the subject – for example, if you’re shooting a person who’s standing up, you would want your lens about even with their waist. This is why when I take pictures of people, even just quick snapshots, I almost always kneel. That way the center of the image is even with the center of the lens, and the sensor is perpendicular to them, so there’s no perspective distortion. It’s okay to be a bit off, but the closer you are to them, the more difference it makes.
If you’re not going for a pure straight perspective, again, do it deliberately, and think about what you’re doing. Here’s a picture we’ve seen before:
I chose to shoot this image from below the level of the subject. Although the model is still clearly visible, the angle emphasizes the crate and the message written on it to some extent, which helps counter the fact that the crate is much less visually interesting than the model and the eye would be drawn to her first if the shot had been taken from a purely straight perspective. It also draws out the door behind the model, making the entire image slightly surreal. (Remember, like I said last time: The failure mode of “surreal” is “pretentious and/or stupid.” Use discretion.)
The thing to remember about perspective is this:
- Things that are bigger look closer.
- Things that are closer look bigger.
- The eye gives more attention to things that look bigger or closer.
So if that cosplayer has an amazing helmet on, shoot from as high as you can. Maybe even have them kneel down and you shoot from head height. From that angle, the helmet will seem closer, which will make it seem bigger, which will make it the focus of the shot without completely removing the rest of the costume from the image. Likewise, if they have some super-cool boots that you want to emphasize, have them stand and you get as low as you can. (Maybe even put them on some steps and you get below them!) Shoot up slightly, and the boots will be emphasized because the lower portion of their body is closer to the camera and will therefore look bigger.
This is also a very, very useful technique to help cosplayers (or any subject) look their best. Shooting from relatively high or relatively low will tend to stretch out the body, making the figure seem more slender. Shooting from up high draws attention to the face. Shooting from down low draws attention to the legs. Shooting from straight on draws attention to the body as a whole. What do you want to emphasize? What does the cosplayer consider the most important features of the costume? Get that part closest to your camera, and it will jump out at the viewer without having to crop the field of view so that only that part is visible.
I hope you enjoyed this article and that you find it useful in future. Please check out the other parts of this series and the rest of our articles here on Sew Your Cosplay!
You are welcome to ask questions in the comments and/or by emailing me at any time. Thanks for reading!