We’re so accustomed to modern cosplay photography being slick and bright and clean that it’s easy to settle into the idea that’s the only way to take photos of people in costume. But this series of shots from this year’s DragonCon shows that a change of hardware can make a big difference to how we see cosplayers on the internet.
These photos were all taken by the forever-excellent Anna Fischer on a pair of Fuji Instax, cheap instant cameras that basically work like an old Polaroid. You point, you shoot, the photo gets shot out a few moments later. There’s absolutely nothing there to help adjust the image, no focus or white balance or anything, which by modern cosplay photography standards should be a disaster.
And yet, these images are fantastic. They arrive at the complete opposite end of the creative spectrum we’re used to when viewing cosplay con galleries online. By using such a simple camera, one whose snaps we normally associate with fond memories and personal keepsakes, these photos end up looking like something you’d see pinned to a cosplayer’s mirror, a reminder of a great day or an old friend. That’s partly down to the technology being used, but also, Fischer tells me, because of the camera itself; cosplayers reacted and posed differently, a bit more candidly, when having their pictures taken on a small toy camera instead of by something more modern and professional.
Or, if you’d prefer, they also look like a collection of cosplay photos from the 1970s, if cosplayers in the 70s had travelled into the future and got access to 2019's references and building materials.