Conventions

Photoshoots + Meetups: Cosplay At Katsucon

© Michael Largé Photography

Katsucon

When a cosplayer hears the word “Katsucon,” they immediately think of one thing: photoshoots. Katsucon is known for its gorgeous location at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Attendees take advantage of iconic scenery such as the infamous gazebo, the lit-up fountain, the 19-story glass atrium, and the beautiful village-like decor. Those are just some of the indoor highlights. Outside features a beautiful view of the Potomac River, the Capital Wheel ferris wheel in the distance, and gorgeous shrubbery and plant life. As a result, cosplayers and photographers fill up their portfolios at one of the earlier events of the year.

It can be very overwhelming to start prepping your weekend as a first-time attendee or a veteran attendee. Lots of cosplayers book their photoshoots and plan their groups months in advance. Photographers start their booking as early as late spring/early summer. There are always cosplay music videos, TikToks, selfies, and vlogs being filmed at all times.

With Katsucon 2020 right on the horizon, what does a cosplayer that plans to attend do? How does one prepare for their Katsucon photo adventure? Well…

Private Photoshoots

Planning Tips

Tip #1: Plan Ahead.

Do you have a cosplay dream list in mind? Maybe you have friends or mutuals planning a cosplay group? These could help you decide what you’ll wear if you choose to join a group or two. Maybe you want to join a full My Hero Academia group. Or maybe you and a friend are doing a detailed Utena and Anthy from Revolutionary Girl Utena. Attendees will change cosplays throughout the day because of how easy it is to go upstairs and change. You’ll find people having AM and PM cosplay plans. With all of this in mind, narrow down what it is you want to wear and when.

Tip #2: Don’t Con Crunch.

Katsucrunch is most definitely a thing. Once you’ve narrowed down your cosplay list, start putting together your list of materials needed and items to purchase. Whether you’re buying your cosplay, making it, or commissioning it, you’ll need to plan in advance to make sure it’s done on time. You will need to account for shipping times and delays.

Apps like Cosplanner are used to make lists of what cosplayers need and for which cosplay. Planners, journals, and spreadsheets are also used to break down their checklists. Whatever method works best for you, be sure to utilize it early.

No cosplay or convention is worth your health. If you need to change your lineup as Katsucon gets closer, that’s okay. Don’t have time to finish? That’s okay, too. Katsucon’s legacy as a photography convention creates this mindset that you need to take the best of the best with you to fit in and matter. This is not true at any convention. Your mental, physical, and emotional health are more important than any cosplay. Besides, you’ll be happier with your results if you didn’t stress about it so much. Promise!

Working With Groups

Private Sailor Moon Photoshoot

Tip #1: Planning A 2+ Person Photoshoot? Coordinate, Coordinate, Coordinate!

Photoshoots with more than one person add more work to photoshoot preparation. You have to make sure the rest of your group is ready, too. Talk to the others in your group: do you want to match materials? Does everyone need to have props? Should everyone have matching makeup? Break down the details with your group and decide what is a group requirement as opposed to individual choice.

Tip #2: Schedule Deadlines To Ensure Accountability.

To avoid having someone owe money or flake last-minute, set deadlines and requirements for your group. Have a payment due for the photographer at a certain date? Make sure everyone pays the leader in advance so the leader isn’t paying out of pocket. Is everyone making their cosplay from scratch? Require progress pictures. Enforce due dates of when certain aspects of the cosplay need to be completed.

Photographer Tips

Private Love Live!! Photoshoot

Tip #1: Book Your Photographers in Advance. 

Photographers open their booking slots early. A good place to start is looking via Facebook event pages made specifically for Katsucon. There are various Facebook groups where photographers will post their information. You can then reach out to them for pricing and securing a slot.

Take a look at photographers’ portfolios. If you have a certain vision for how you want a photo to look, aim to work with a photographer whose aesthetic matches your plans. Doing this will help secure and finalize your plans in a timely fashion. You’ll also end up with final photos that are portfolio-worthy.

Tip #2: Plan With Your Photographer Prior to Your Shoot. 

Your lineup is set. Materials are ready. Orders have been placed. Communicate with your photographer about your shoot. Show them images you’d like to recreate. Give them photos of the character you’re cosplaying and tell them a bit about them. Discuss what you’re comfortable with and what you won’t or can’t do. Want indoor or outdoor photos? Certain lighting? Be sure to have these conversations early. That way, when you meet with your photographer, you can get to work without needing extra time to figure it out.

Tip #3: Budget Your Cosplay … and Include Your Photoshoot in That Number! 

Many cosplayers will budget their cosplays. How many cosplayers add the cost of the photoshoot to that number? You’ve planned your cosplay lineup and you’ve booked your photographer. Great! Now that you know the pricing, add that into the overall total for your cosplay. If you’re going to be making Aqua from Kingdom Hearts, add another spot to her checklist for her photoshoot. This will allow you to see exactly how much each cosplay cost overall, not just the making or purchasing of it.

Overall

When you prepare in advance, work with your fellow cosplayers, and plan with your photographers, the results are stunning. It’s a photo that can be put into your cosplay portfolio, and the photographer’s portfolio as well. Everyone wins. Steer clear of stress and avoidable road bumps.

Personally, once I know what cosplay I am going to wear, I go through what photographers are attending Katsu as well. I start with photographers I know. If they have slots open that work with my schedule, I book them according to whose portfolio and aesthetic matches the result I want for that cosplay. It takes a bit of thinking and planning, but it is ever so worth it.

Meetups

Katsucon is home to multiple official and nonofficial meetups. The official meetups are verified by Katsucon cosplay coordination and are put on the official schedule. Official meetups are also held in one of three locations: the gazebo, the fountain, and the Cherry Blossom Ballroom Lobby. Official photoshoots also do have a time limit. 

Unofficial meetups are fan-run. They can be run at any location in the venue. They are not put on the official schedule but do have the freedom of no time limit.

Take a look at the Cells At Work!! and Tokusatsu meetups from Katsucon 2019.

Cosplay

It doesn’t matter your skin color, weight, height, gender, sexuality, religion, etc. Cosplay is for everyone. Cosplay fame does not matter. Social media follower counts do not matter. Katsucon always brings out the best in cosplayers. You are able to see so many amazing cosplayers dressed as characters they adore and the happiness is infectious.

It’s amazing to see classic anime and old favorites represented. Two of my favorite things to see are full groups of characters and series mash-ups. Disney Princesses x Kingdom Hearts with their custom keyblades was a great surprise!

Take a look at just a taste of the amazing cosplay we saw at Katsucon 2019!

So… Ready to Cosplay at Katsucon 2020?

Keep in mind that you are not the only person cosplaying. You are not the only person trying to take photos. Because of the beautiful location, you will find yourself amongst hundreds of cosplayers inside and outside. Consider what day and time you book your photoshoots, and what location you decide to shoot at.

There is so much to do at Katsucon besides cosplay photoshoots. However, if you want to get some beautiful photos, this is definitely the convention for you! We’re looking forward to seeing all the amazing cosplay and the results of amazing teamwork between cosplayers and photographers. The last few pointers we can give:

  1. Be sure to credit your photographers. Tag them on social media; recommend them if you had a good experience. Help each other out!
  2. Used certain patterns or fabrics? Bought crystals to add detail to your fabric? Give credit! Tag the Etsy stores, tag the Instagram accounts… Let people know where they, too, can buy those materials.
  3. Commissioned someone? Don’t play off the cosplay as your own! Tag, tag, tag. Someone worked hard on that wig, that cosplay, that prop. Let them know how thankful you are!

Have a wonderful and safe Katsucon!


 

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Keep Calm And Cosplay On!

About the author

Rizuki Ann

… a computer technician, marketing director, and graphic designer by day, and an anime-loving, video game-playing cosplayer by night. Rizuki hosts various workshops, panels, and photoshoots at multiple conventions and events throughout Long Island, New York, and on the East Coast. Her focus is Cos-Positivity, inclusivity in the cosplay community, being a resource for new cosplayers, and uniting the Sailor Moon Fandom. Most of her shenanigans can be found on her Instagram.

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