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