Monday, March 19, 2012

Convention Do's and Don'ts

I have recently read a blog by AllyCat Alisha who has done a great job listing do's and don'ts at cons. She approaches it from a practical viewpoint as one who cosplays at cons. I agree with her points (I cannot disagree as I have never cosplayed myself).  The link to her post is

To be honest, she is a very prolific writer, much more so than I am. Her post about behavior is well thought out and I am going to add some of my observations to her own. I have only been going to cons for a year now but I tend to observe and these are some things I noticed.

DON’T throw on a mask and a t-shirt and call it a cosplay and if you do don’t expect other cosplayers to want to take photos with you. 

That one should not even need to be said. Many people put a lot of time and effort into these costumes. I may not know all the characters that parade around but the time spent in creating impresses me. I will take pictures of people who have impressive costumes even if I don't know who they are cosplaying. If you don't know, ask. The cosplayer is usually happy to talk about their character. Like she said, I do not take photos of a person just wearing a Justice League t-shirt as anyone can buy those and put it on. That takes no effort.

DO wear undergarments. Yes this does need to be said.

Technically this should be a rule for life but...

DON’T be afraid to turn someone down.

This is a hard one to broach. The cosplayer always has the right to say no to the picture. It is as simple as that. You may not like hearing "No" and I have been told this on occasion but I have to respect their wishes. Would you want someone to take your picture without your consent? Hearing someone say no is rough especially if you love the character they are portraying. I love Zatanna (many people, such as Tiffany Perry are aware of this and have pointed out cosplayers in that costume to me) and am very, very disappointed when someone says no to a picture but I just move on. I do not like being told no but that is the cosplayer's choice. There are many, many other cosplayers at the con. The cosplayer may allow you to take a picture later.

This is one of mine, Do ask to take a picture and say thank you afterwards. This is one thing I see a lot. People just whip out a camera and start snapping shots without even asking. Show some common courtesy. Please and thank you are good words to use (even if they are not used as much anymore). Plus, if you ask, you may get a better shot since the model will be ready and pose.

DO expect people to take photos with you.

Sometimes people come in some of my favorite characters (Zatanna!) and I like to get a picture with them. I ask first. Here comes one thing that I think should be a golden rule. Watch where you put your hands. Have the model set the tone of the photo by letting them decide their comfort level of physical contact. I mean do not assume they want your hands on them. Let them put theirs around you/touch your shoulder, etc. before you touch them. Most likely they do not know you and they may not appreciate the touching. I think this is another piece of common courtesy. Meagan Marie (another cosplayer) uses the phrase "hover hands" and that is good a phrase as any. Some of the female cosplayers look horrified in the pictures where guys just walk up and wrap their arms around the woman.

DO carry an emergency sewing kit.

This is simply pratical advice. Here is a story from New York Comic Con. A woman was dressed as Power Girl. Later, I saw her running for the exit holding her cape around her waist and legs. Obviously something went wrong and she made a quick exit. I do not know if she was able to fix it but I did not see her again. Having a sewing kit might have helped.

Here is something that I feel needs to be said:

Do not ask/take a photo while they are eating. I have seen people walk up to cosplayers who are having lunch and start snapping away while the cosplayer is putting a hamburger in their mouth. Consider it this way: Do you want to work while you are on your lunch break? No, you want a respite from the day. That is what lunch is. Also, do not hover around their table waiting for them to finish lunch. That is just creepy. Especially if you have a camera in your hand and you keep staring at the cosplayer.

Don't block aisles to get the photo. People are always trying to move around and shooting across the aisle can stop traffic completely. Just stand on the same side as the person you are planning to photograph. This way no one has to stop as you take the shot.That just seems like common courtesy to me.

I love watching what I call the pageantry of the conventions. People come in some fantastic costumes that display time spent making it and a love of the character. Looking is probably my favorite thing to do at conventions. I have not actually done a cosplay myself but I have considered it. I have not committed to anything but if I were to do a costume it would be Brainiac 5 from Legion of Superheroes.

If you have any other suggestions on good con behavior, let me know.

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