Written by Potato Sack Cosplay/Sam Berinato, CCT Admin
In light of the upcoming opportunity for cosplayers to sell prints at FanCon, we chatted to some photographers in the community to get the lowdown on how they work, the best way to get good photos and how to get those print sales going! This is the first in a series of interviews designed to inform cosplayers who are new to the print and/or photo game, and features the wonderful Leyla Heylen: a known face in the cosplaying world, and a fantastic shot behind the camera.
Leyla has been in the cosplay community for a number of years and her skills with a camera have grown substantially over time. Her photography focus has shifted more to fashion, but she still loves to shoot cosplay, especially anything that may result in a new photography adventure.
As a cosplayer, I have been fortunate enough to appear in front of her talented lens, portraying the random “YAAAAAAAASSS” to the odd “SPICY”. She is incredibly fun to work with and always delivers impeccable photos.
1: Please give us a short introduction to yourself.
Hi 🙂 My name is Leyla Heylen. I studied photography at the Cape Town School of Photography from 2014 – 2015, and have worked as a freelance portrait and fashion photographer since graduating. I’m also a cosplayer, and a large section of my 2nd year photography portfolio consisted of cosplay photography!
2: How would you best describe your photography style?
Whimsical, dream-like and soft.
3: What is your favourite part of the photography process? (Editing, the shoot, etc)
That’s a difficult question! I enjoy a lot of aspects of the photography process: turning a mundane location into a cool photograph, completely transforming a photograph with editing, and I really love seeing people’s excited reactions when they receive their completed photos!
4: Would you offer editing services on a cosplayer’s self taken photos?
(Side note – I have seen what she can do in photoshop. She is CRAZY gifted)
5: How do you feel about your photos being used as prints? What are your feelings on profit share for prints?
I would appreciate it if the cosplayer messaged me beforehand to ask if it’s okay. In general, I’m fine with it if it’s a small-scale cosplayer, since it’s more of a fun thing and they don’t receive much profit.
As to the profit share, this would need to be discussed per cosplayer, but, as mentioned previously, I’m generally okay with the cosplayers receiving all the profit as it’s more of a fun thing and isn’t done for huge monetary gain.
6: Can you give any tips for cosplayers looking at trying their hand at taking their own photos?
If you’re serious about taking photos and selling prints I would highly recommend investing in a DSLR camera. That way you can shoot in RAW format. Unlike JPEG images, RAW photos are uncompressed, so they have much more room for editing and will print at a way higher quality.
Unfortunately cameras are expensive, but websites like ORMS sell second-hand cameras. There are also Facebook groups that sell used camera gear, so you might be able to find one for a better price.
Ideally you’d want to shoot with your camera on a tripod and with a remote, but equipment is pricey too! You could balance your camera on a stack of books or something (just make sure it’s secure!) and set the self timer if you’re unable to buy a remote. Or you could enlist a friend or family member to assist you.
And lastly (wow this list is long XD), I highly suggest learning some basic editing skills in Lightroom or Photoshop! Lightroom is a lot easier to use, and it’s very useful for tweaking colours, highlights/shadows etc. If you’re feeling brave and want to attempt Photoshop, the Youtube channel PHLEARN has some fantastic tutorials.
Feel free to message me if you have any photography or editing questions!
If you would like to experience what it is like to shoot with Leyla, please get in contact with her for rates, as well as have a look at her social media page to see her other work. Whether it be editing services, a shoot, or just a fun chat about photography, it would be definitely beneficial to get in contact with Leyla and follow her on social media!
Regardless of whether you do prints or just post online, please remember to always consult the photographer before using their work. Never crop the photographer’s watermark on photos when posting them online or using them elsewhere. Give credit where credit is due and respect that they worked hard to acquire these skills.
We have another photographer showcase coming up in the next two weeks, and some cosplayers’ ones to follow as well. See you soon!