5 Indicators of a Photography Scam

This post comes from my personal experience as a cosplayer. I know that some of you may have experienced similar things, and I know the frustration that comes with it. For new cosplayers and those unaware of some of the dangers out there, I present: the top 5 ways to prevent photography scams.

 

I know how important pictures are in the cosplay world. Cosplayers like to show off their hard work and photographers like to build portfolios and fans by shooting various cosplays and events at conventions. However, some photographers charge and this is where things get tricky. Most professional photographers have a studio at conventions where you can receive your photo prints the same day they are taken and usually the same day they are paid for. To check out the authenticity of studio photographers at a convention, simply check out the vendors on the convention website and if they are professional; they will be listed with contact information.

 

Other non-professional photographers often make Facebook pages and posts about their services on convention groups on Facebook and other social media websites. They advertise their services for a certain price and tend to spam their services for days. Sadly, I have been in one of these situations where I hired such a photographer and it turned out to be a scam. Therefore, I’ve devised a few ways to tell whether you’re getting yourself into a scam.

 

1: The first indicator that you’re photographer is a scammer, is that they ask for the money up front. If they ask for the money days before the shoot, there is a small chance you will be getting it back.

 

2: Do they have a large amount of cosplay photos on their Facebook or website? If not they might just be starting off, and most non-professional photographers do not charge for shoots anyway, indicating a scam.

 

3: If you message them for more information, are they pushy about getting money or scheduling the shoot? If so, they are probably not focusing on you as a potential customer.

 

4: Do they tell you where they will be shooting? Or do they simply tell you they will find you at the convention? If they say they will find you, that is unreliable at best especially at large conventions with a lot of people.

 

5: Do they have reviews on their site? If so, are any of the reviews from people you or friends in the cosplay world know? Be weary of false reviews especially with a lack of pictures to match.

 

If you ever run into any of these problems, make sure to turn the other way or find a real professional photographer to take your photos. Most photographers at conventions take photos for free to build their audience and portfolios anyway, so you shouldn’t have to find one to pay. You can also choose to tip free photographers after they do your shoot for you, if you really want to support their business.

Other tips:

Whenever you pay someone on the Internet, make sure to use PayPal.

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PayPal has a great claims policy, where if you got scammed out of your money you can report it to their service claims department and if the other party that has not provided you with services does not respond to the claim (to which most don’t because they have no evidence to prove their service) you will get your money refunded to your account!

 

I hope this helps some of the best of us who worry about having great photos at any cost. Feel free to add more information about scammers or share your personal stories.

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Heroes Need Spandex

A few days ago, I was at my local fabric shop looking for spandex materials for some of my new cosplays. Of course, I usually cosplay comic book superheroes and we all know spandex is a favorite of superheroes, they’ve gotta be able to move in their costumes. Not to mention, spandex is a great material to work with because it leaves room for error since it stretches. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the materials I needed or the variety I was looking for. Hero costumes are usually very bright and shiny but most fabric stores only carry spandex fabric that has a dull sheen. Luckily Spandex World was there for me and I cannot praise their customer service enough. They are a fabric company based in New York that have some of the greatest spandex fabrics I have ever seen. They also send you 10 free swatches on your choice of fabrics so you can tell if what you think you want to buy is what you really want to buy.

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This is a picture of some of the swatches I was looking at for my upcoming Huntress costume. I realized that, like me, a lot of people don’t know the difference in certain spandex fabrics. In order to not waste your 10 swatches, I will explain the difference between some of the major spandex fabrics used in costuming. Starting from the left of the picture to the right of the picture the swatch materials are;

1. White 4-way stretch spandex

2. Matte Polyvinyl 2-way stretch spandex

3. Shiny Polyvinyl 4-way stretch spandex

4. Magenta 4-way stretch spandex

5. Shiny Purple Polyvinyl 4-way stretch spandex

6: Black Pleather 4-way stretch spandex

7: Black Matte Polyvinyl 4-way stretch spandex

8: Black Shiny Polyvinyl 4-way stretch spandex

 

Terminology:

2-Way stretch: Fabric that can stretch up and down but not side to side

4-Way Stretch: Fabric that stretches horizontally and vertically

Polyvinyl Fabric: Fabric that is made of plastic and is easy to manipulate, pleather is plastic that has a leather texture, plastic fabrics are difficult to breathe in because they are not very porous

All these fabrics are as stretchy as regular spandex, so they’re all fairly easy to manipulate if you make a mistake on them. The polyvinyl fabrics, may not look like it, but are really stretchy and a little hard to breathe in because of the plastic covering that covers the spandex material and prevents air from coming through. Matte polyvinyl materials that are usually just called vinyl fabrics have a very dull sheen, even less so than regular spandex. Shiny vinyl is very shiny and indeed a costume fabric, be careful when working with this fabric as it can tend to shed when used under a heavy duty sewing machine. Regular spandex fabrics are stretchy, porous but vary in sheen. While vinyl can make your costume pop, keep in mind that working with new fabrics like vinyls can be time-consuming and hard to wear for long periods of time.

I hope this helps those of you who’d like a breakdown of fabrics that aren’t readily available to you. Comment if you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer!

 

 

Conventions Versus Comic Book Stores

In my experience as a cosplayer, I have heard a lot of diehard cosplayers talk about their love of comic book store cosplays. Although comic conventions can be really fun, they are often overcrowded. Even though there are many comic heroes running about the convention centers, there is hardly any variety of comics to be found. I think that in itself is an interesting concept, that comic conventions feature all this great entertainment, artists and wonderful cosplayers but it lacks in the very thing that brings these people together and that lights the fire behind the characters portrayed. Sometimes, I think cosplayers don’t realize the amount of fun that comic book store conventions can be. There is a plethora of benefits that are associated with comic book store conventions:

-Meeting new people within your own community, since a majority of comic book store customers aren’t cosplayers. This can help build your credibility as a cosplayer since most popular cosplayers started to gain their fame through community efforts.

-Engaging or even inspiring aspiring cosplayers.

-Expanding your cosplay business.

-Attracting new/more customers to a comic book store. Costumes gain a lot of attention when placed amongst everyday people, especially if you attend mini conventions at comic book stores in malls and shopping plazas. Most comic book stores are privately owned and funded by the people that try really hard to make your experience a good one. It is sad to say but some of the only privately sanctioned family businesses in America are comic book stores. Most other stores are commercially based and if you wanted to find the closest group of family owned small business stores; you’d have to travel to Europe for that.

-Comic book stores host all kinds of events, including benefits. It is a chance to get acquainted with other members of the stores outreach and other programs it offers like Friday Night Magic or D & D matches.

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Heroes Haven; a local comic book store in Tampa, FL.

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Cosplayers attending a mini-con at a comic book store.

While I’m sure there are plenty of more benefits to cosplaying or attending mini-conventions in Comic Book Stores, I believe this is enough to convince the non-believers. A convention doesn’t always have to be crowded, and often less-crowded places lead to much better exchanges of information. There are many ways to have fun cosplaying and it doesn’t always have to be a few times a year. You can be that character you feel passionately about whenever you want. I know that’s powerful, wouldn’t you agree?

Cosplay Tutorial: How to combine two wigs

Lately I’ve been looking for a way to combine two wigs in order to create a personal gradient for one of them. One of the characters I cosplay has red hair that gets gradually orange and blond at the bottom. Naturally, my first instinct was to find a wig that is this color and also long enough. Unfortunately finding a cheap synthetic wig that still looks nice and has this gradient is near impossible. Instead, I decided to take matters into my own hands which means that I have to do the next best thing; weft sewing.

I bought three wigs, a red one to serve as my main gradient, an orange wig and a yellow/blond wig. The orange and yellow wigs will be taken apart and sewn onto the red wig to provide fullness and that gradient color I need. I have heard of people doing things and since I am relatively new to wig manipulation I decided to look up tutorials. However, most tutorials I found were really confusing. Instead, I digested a lot of information from different sources on the internet and just from observation and threw it together in this extremely simple and basic tutorial that teaches you to combine wigs for any of your needs. Whether you need to combine wigs of the same color for fullness or those of different colors for gradients, I hope this shortens your struggle.

For this tutorial you will need at least two wigs, a sewing needle and cotton thread to match the wig color and a pair of scissors.

The first thing you want to do is decide where you will need the extra wig hair and pin the rest of the wig down so that only the areas you plan to change are visible on the wig scalp. Then take the second wig and locate a weft with easy access. A weft is a line of hair that is sewn onto a wig scalp.

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This is what the weft should look like. Next, cut out the weft with fabric scissors, that part of the wig scalp will come out also or else the hair would fall out. Don’t cut the wig seams on this weft. When you are done it should look like the picture below.

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Brush the weft out if you’d like, being careful of the seams. Then, place the weft on the scalp area of the first wig where you would like it to be. You can begin sewing the scalp of the weft to the scalp of the first wig or if you’d prefer a faster way out you can hot-glue the weft to your wig. Remember to make sure you have pinned other parts of the wig down so that you can see the scalp when you’re gluing the weft.

You can continue to do this for as many wefts as will fit on your re-modeled wig. Just keep in mind that more wefts equal a heavier wig. When you are done adding wefts, simply brush your wig and try it on for size. Make alterations as needed. However, if you’re looking for a more detailed tutorial check out windofthestars’s tutorial.

Hope this helps those of you, who like me, cannot stand watching 10-minute tutorial videos.

 

Chasco Fiesta

Chasco Fiesta is a traditional Native American festival held annually during spring in New Port Richey, FL. It is a family oriented event that features Native American festivities, a carnival, parades and concerts. The event has been a cultural tradition in the Southwest Florida town since it was first created in 1947 to raise money for the community. Sixty-eight years later it has a similar goal, and it provides some great cultural exposure to young children. Many Native Americans set up shops for the festival where they sell jewelry, wooden hand-carved weapons and other art. They also provide shows such as traditional Native American dances and display hawks that can perform tricks. While kids can enjoy these shows, various other events are going on for parents to participate in. Nightly concerts by popular local bands are also on the schedule as well as a carnival. Food is also plenty at the Chasco Fiesta where local high schools set up tents and trucks to sell funnel cakes and other goodies to raise money for their schools. Being that the Fiesta is such an integral part of New Port Richey, it takes place on New Port Richey’s Main Street; the heart of the city.

 

Detour signs are displayed across Main Street in New Port Richey, Fla. that locals recognize as the beginning of Chasco Fiesta. The Festival lasted nine days this year and began March 22, 2014. MMC2100/ Jelena Dopudj.

Detour signs are displayed across Main Street in New Port Richey, Fla. that locals recognize as the beginning of Chasco Fiesta. The Festival lasted nine days this year and began March 22, 2014. Photos taken March 29, 2014. MMC2100/ Jelena Dopudj.

A shop is set up by a Native American man who creates re-creates genuine Native American woodwork, tools, weapons and jewelry. The shop profits help Native American citizens in the area as well as the community. MMC2100/ Jelena Dopudj

A shop is set up by a Native American man who creates re-creates genuine Native American woodwork, tools, weapons and jewelry. The shop profits help Native American citizens in the area as well as the community. MMC2100/ Jelena Dopudj

Ridgewood; a local high school in New Port Richey has a vending stand that sells typical carnival refreshments like funnel cake. The proceeds of this stand as well as the stands of three other high schools go to the respective high schools and marching band programs within the school. MMC2100/ Jelena Dopudj

Ridgewood; a local high school in New Port Richey has a vending stand that sells typical carnival refreshments like funnel cake. The proceeds of this stand as well as the stands of three other high schools go to the respective high schools and marching band programs within the school. MMC2100/ Jelena Dopudj

Locals gather as a local country band opens up for a bigger act to follow in a few hours. MMC2100/ Jelena Dopudj

Locals gather as a local country band opens up for a bigger act to follow in a few hours. MMC2100/ Jelena Dopudj

Chasco Fiesta features a typical carnival amongst its festivities. The ferris wheel is the most popular ride, strategically placed next to the breathtaking Sims Park River. MMC2100/ Jelena Dopudj

Chasco Fiesta features a typical carnival amongst its festivities. The ferris wheel is the most popular ride, strategically placed next to the breathtaking Sims Park River. MMC2100/ Jelena Dopudj

A couple enjoys the scenery of the Pithlachascotee River. The fiesta received its name from the river it was located on. The festival attracts people of all ages. MMC2100/ Jelena Dopudj

A couple enjoys the scenery of the Pithlachascotee River. The fiesta received its name from the river it was located on. The festival attracts people of all ages. MMC2100/ Jelena Dopudj

Gem Tutorial

Cosplay gem tutorial:

 

There are a lot of cosplay gem tutorials on the web. Gems are an essential part of a lot of cosplays. They can be used on costumes, as props, as well as other essential cosplay items. Some people use the same methods necessary to create gems and apply them to create other things like individually casted bows and various other castings. While castings may take a while to perfect, gems are essential to many costumes and provide useful skills that will be needed for future cosplays. There are many gem tutorials on the Internet like the ones on kamuicosplay’s website which are resin cast and made from individual castings. The only problem with some of these tutorials is that they can be a bit complex to understand for the cosplay beginner. Speaking from experience, I have tried to re-create some of the best tutorials I found online, just to discover that I wasted materials and time doing something wrong. Eventually, I decided to try something based on my own research and creativity and it’s super easy to follow as well.

The materials you will need for this tutorial are as follows:

 

-Some kind of casting for your gems, can be paint dishes/palettes or even something like a round ice cream scooper; the casting should be made out of plastic if it’s made out of metal it will need to be heated up after it dries in order to be retrieved from the cast

Petroleum jelly/ Vaseline

Food dye (the color should be the color you need for your gems)

Gorilla epoxy glue/ any kind of resin glue (can be found in Wal-Mart, hardware stores, and even some auto or convenience stores)

Epoxy glue is a durable moldable glue that dries quickly. It is used for heavy duty home improvement projects and to create molds of certain things that are unavailable. Epoxy works like a sort of ancient prototype of a 3-D printer.

 

The hardest part of this whole process is gathering the materials, everything afterwards is cake!

 

Precaution: WHEN POURING RESING/EPOXY GLUE MAKE SURE TO BE IN A WELL-VENILATED AREA.

 

To begin; simply choose the cast where you will pour your gem. Make sure the size is appropriate for the gem prop you wish to make. After you’ve done so, coat the whole inside of the cast with a light layer of Vaseline or petroleum jelly, making sure to smooth out rough layers.

 

Next, pour the epoxy glue or resin into the casting (before the Vaseline dries). As soon as you pour it add a few drops of food coloring or as needed to create the color you desire and stir the color into the glue lightly with a plastic stirring rod.

 

Leave the resin inside the cast for at least an hour. Afterwards it should pop right out and you will have a brilliant cosplay gem. You can add clear, shiny acrylic coats to it so that it appears shinier.

 

The end result looks like this: (created in an ice-cream scooper which was made of metal and had to be placed in hot water for a few seconds to loosen up. This can be done if your gem doesn’t come right out of its cast after it is dry.)

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Let me know if this technique works just as well for you!

Cosplay Nostalgia

Recently, I came across a really great cosplay post on Tumblr. The topic discusses “things that no one tells you about getting into cosplay,” which are very insightfully written. Fellow cosplayer seerofsarcasm brings up a lot of great points, which you can read further. The most important one that really stuck out to me is the last point she mentions about becoming a really experienced cosplayer who will want to judge someone else because of a poorly constructed costume. The post further indicates that although this feeling is natural with experience, it is important to not judge anyone for just having fun, and to also remember yourself at that stage.

 

I really think this post speaks volumes and that it is really important for experienced cosplayers to not get in over their heads. To me, this post listed everything I have experienced through cosplay. For instance, the very first costumes I ever made were barely stitched together, however I never paid much attention to that because I was too busy enjoying myself at the convention. I have felt that another cosplayer’s costume was better, but at that stage I was admiring the costuming more than envying it or feeling bad about my skills.

 

At the same time, I have been on the other end of the spectrum where I felt my costume was well-executed, accurate and well put-together. In fact, it is at this point that I felt more insecure about my costume and skillset because I was not going to the convention to just enjoy myself, I was going to show off my works and that is a type of display that is both humbling and exposing. I have been struggling with comparing my costumes to other great cosplayers and all it has done is caused serious grief and doubt. The moment that you turn cosplay into a competition, is the moment it loses its fun. Does it not?

 

 

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On the left is an Arsenal costume I made for a friend within the last month. On the right is one of the first costumes I made for that same friend of Robin at one of my first conventions. The difference between them is really astounding, but luckily we continue to have fun despite what we’re wearing.