How to Plan For Your Cosplay Photo Session

Who is your favorite character from a movie or cartoon? Love anime? Enjoy dressing up and pretending? Here is a list of things to keep in mind when getting ready for your session. Let's have some fun!

Plan your character

  • What type of character would you like to be? A strong, independent character, vulnerable and romantic, a classic fairy tale, fierce warrior, mythical goddess, or something futuristic?
  • Think about what clothing they would wear, hairstyles, make-up, accessories, etc.
  • Search the internet for inspiration: Pinterest, Instagram, Google image search.
  • Let your imagination run wild!

Hair/ Makeup

  • Make-up can really enhance your character, so practice a few times at home to get the look just right. This will help you gauge how long it will take, and what supplies you’ll need for your session.
  • Clean up any flyaway hairs on your wig. Use hairspray or trim parts that are sticking out. Bring supplies for your session.
  • If you’re styling your own hair, try it a few times at home to get it just right. Bring hairspray!
  • If you want a tan look, do some tanning a few weeks before your session to avoid peeling skin or burns. Be aware of any tan lines that may show with your outfit.
  • Bring any personal items you might want for touching up, such as make-up or a hairbrush.


  • Try your costume on at home days before the session to ensure everything fits, all parts are accounted for, and it moves comfortably with you when trying different poses.
  • Cut the tags off items so they aren’t sticking out, especially sheer fabrics.
  • Clean and iron your costume the night before so it’s all ready to go.
  • Make a list of ALL the parts for your costume: include wigs, underwear, jewelry, shoes, makeup, accessories, etc. Start from head to toe.
  • Keep mundane jewelry to a minimum. Watches that are large and bulky can be very distracting.
  • Be careful about undergarments. Editing out bra straps or panty lines is difficult and time-consuming. Choose clothes that properly cover your undergarments, in all types of movement scenarios.
  • Be prepared for inclement weather if shooting outside.
  • If you have pets at home, bring a lint bush/roller to catch all the stray hairs.
  • Think about what your character would have with them, holding, or using: crown or hat, sword or other weapons, jewelry, mask, spell book, wings, tail, claws or sharp teeth, etc.


  • Search online for your character poses and keep a file of shots you like. Your photographer may not be familiar with the character and will need references.
  • Relax, slow down, and don’t force anything. Don’t feel pressured to make everything perfect. When in doubt, just smile. Your photographer will help guide you as well.
  • Expect me to move you around to different spots to capture images. The more variety we get, the better your selection.
  • Feel free to bring a friend who is familiar with the character and costume so they can keep an eye out for any costume malfunctions or to touch up any makeup. Your photographer may not know when something is out of place.

Choose a Location

  • Talk to your photographer ahead of time to come up with the best location to suit your character. Suggest a few places you might like, and your photographer will do the same.
  • Think of what scenery your character would typically be in: Forest, medieval setting, Victorian era, city, dystopian wasteland, etc.

Misc Tips

  • Be On Time! Show up early to give yourself enough time to get ready before the session.
  • Drink a lot of water, and keep hydrated.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before. Photographers don’t like cranky clients!
  • Shave and moisturize your skin if necessary.
  • Wear a clear deodorant.

Resources to Download

To download this information, and several other documents, please visit my Resources page.

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