If you've been following me for a bit, you know by now that I run a group that organizes costumed photoshoots. I have had some people ask about how I do this and how I got it started, so I thought I'd share my experience here with you! I was inspired to start my own group because my friend, Josephine, is in an organization that does amazing shoots out in California called Worlds of Wonderment. I am friends with several other local costumers and cosplayers and we are always looking for more opportunities to get out, wear our awesome stuff, and share our craft, however, living in Central Pennsylvania feels kind of like being alienated from the rest of this community because we're kind of the middle of nowhere. I decided to set out on creating DuBois Area Fantasy Photoshoot out of the town I live in because there are several towns to which we are central and most of the shoots are hosted within an hour of Dubois, PA. I run everything through Facebook because the majority of people have it and it makes it a lot easier than trying to set up a separate forum and trying to admin it. I also don't think that many people would be happy with having to go to yet another website. You need to be ready to be in charge to do this. If you're interested but don't want to be the organizer, talk to friends you think would be interested and see if you can loop one of them in.
Step Two: Advertise! No, I don't mean that you have to pay to advertise your page with facebook or anyone else. Share your new public photoshoot page with your friends and invite them to like and follow it. Share it into local groups, whether they are for costumers or not. I shared often into just out local DuBois groups to connect with photographers and people who wanted to model. If you have a blog or a website, use it to help get the word out. Get your friends who want to get this started to help spread the news and invite people they know, too. While you're doing this, don't forget to be adding content to your page to help keep people interested. I share lots of inspiration pics from a lot of different sources-- mostly photogs and models on Facebook whose work I admire. I wouldn't upload pics from people who are not a part of your group to share because then others may think that they are a part of your organization. You should always tag and credit the people in the photos if you do it that way, though.
Step Four: Plan your first shoot! I recommend that for your first time out, you go somewhere public so people don't worry about creepers and whatnot. Ours was done at our city park and some of my amazing friends reserved a pavilion and donated it to us. You don't need a pavilion, but it was really nice to know that we had a central meeting area. Before they did that, I had just been planning to have everyone meet by the stage there. You will get people giving you weird looks and asking you what you're doing. Our first shoot did not have a theme because I didn't want to alienate people by making them feel that their costume wasn't welcome. Anyone under 18 is required to bring a parent/guardian with them. I try to keep our shoots free if possible. If people in your group are willing to put out the money to rent a location all together, go for it, but it can be difficult to get everyone to send you money and then you also have to deal with people cancelling last minute and wanting a refund. Think about whether you want to have each photographer bring a release document for models to sign or if you want to make one for the group in general. I do the latter, then scan them in and upload them to Google Docs so all photogs have access to it. I started out doing a new release for each shoot, but as we have now made it into our second year, I am going to be changing to yearly ones so we don't have to spend time doing it at each event. Some photographers will probably still bring their own forms even if you do this and that's OK.
Step Five: Make a Facebook event page! You're going to have to do this from your public page and not within the group. Facebook has recently rolled out some changes so if you make the event in the group, only group members will be able to join it. This is good for small things, but not for a big shoot. No one will be able to invite other people if it is not a public event. To create an event on your page:
Step Six: Have your shoot! Your first event is going to be chaos and everyone is going to be nervous. It's OK. When I run mine, photographers have one month to have their images edited and either uploaded into the group or shared with us from their page or site. People go through the photographers to order their prints. Print cost is left up to the photographers. I am kind of a dictator and require that if you share photos into my group that they need to be put in an album to make sure things don't get lost. After each shoot, I come home and create a cover image and make the album or things will just be uploaded all over the place and then you have to track them down and it's a lot of stress. It will still be stressful keeping everyone and everything in order, but it's worth it-- honest!
Step Seven: Upload the photos from your first event to your public page. Create an album and add the photos you got back from your first event if your photographers and models are OK with it. Make sure to include all credits. Don't tag peoples' private, personal pages on these. If they want to tag themselves, they can go do it, but since it's public, everyone will be able to follow the tags back to them. I never post last names for minors. I always check first to see if any photographers or models don't want their photos on the public page.
Why should you put pics in a public album? So everyone can see what you've achieved and share! It's also great for people looking to see if they want to join your group to be able to see the work you've done previously and who is a part of the group.
Step Eight: Plan more fun stuff! The first shoot with my group was 5/30/14. We have had six big shoots that were open to whoever wanted to come, as well as several smaller ones that were just planned for the group. We've had modeling classes and a luncheon-- there are all sorts of cool things you can do and lots of fun people to meet in doing it!
Of course there are more details that I'd like to get into, but to save this post from becoming too massive, I'm going to gather them together for Part Two! If you have any questions or concerns that you'd like to make sure I cover, send me a message at Figment Costuming or post them in the comments! And don't forget to follow me on Facebook! There's also a giveaway going on! Find it HERE!