This is not O.K.

To the stranger on Instagram who thinks it’s okay to talk to women like they’re a piece of meat: Stop it.

I am in no way asking for your sexual attention. The amount of skin that is showing in this picture? Most of my facial epidermis and a scandalous peep of forearm.



You see that kid? I’m sharing part of my hobby that makes me the happiest: making children smile.

And you had to get on the internet and ruin an innocent picture with your stupid words.


You, sir, are the reason why I learned to slouch so that nobody’s eyes wandered to certain places.

It’s men like you who taught a 13-year-old me that my body is sexually appealing when a middle-aged truck driver honked at my friend and I as we were walking home from school. If I didn’t stop wearing shorts, I would still get those stupid honks.

It’s men like you who ruined my Valentine’s Day date when I traumatically learned that wearing heels and a dress above the knees means you’re available for prostitution proposals. I was 21, on my first date ever, and didn’t know anything about fashion. I never made that mistake again.


I am also not your:

Sweetheart, sweetie, dear, baby, or dog (so stop whistling at me like I am one).


I didn’t ask for your “compliment”, but I will ask for something from you: STOP. I don’t want your twisted idea of attention.



3 steps to get over awkward cosplay posing

Modeling is not as easy as it looks, and if you’re a cosplayer who is just jumping into the wayward waters of the posing profession, it might be intimidating and awkward to get started. Here’s how you can get over the initiation jitters.

1. Don’t put yourself down!

  • Mentality is a huge part of the battle, so if you’re thinking about apologizing to the photographer for everything you’re doing wrong… don’t! Explain that you are new, and then laugh it off and enjoy yourself.


2. Fake that confidence

  • It helps to practice your poses in a mirror or have some references with you, too, but rolling your shoulders back, sticking that chest out, and holding your head high can make you feel less awkward. Fake it ‘till you make it.


3. You are a chameleon

  • Okay, so you’re in a crowded convention when you strike your pose. Okay, so people might be looking at you weird. It doesn’t matter. Who is going to know what you look like on a normal day?


The Princess Hug

I was at the Maryland Renaissance Festival dressed as Snow White, when a 7-year-old girl shyly came up to me with her mom. She’s was clutching her mother’s leg as I kneeled down and spoke to her in hopes of breaking through her timidity.

As usual, I spread my arms out and ask her for a princess hug. I was unprepared for the intensity of that hug.

This girl clung to me like I was her last hope in the world and didn’t say a single word. It seemed like an intense emotional time for her, so I started whispering words of encouragement. “You’re a beautiful girl. You have so much love in you. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something.” And she just stood there with her arms wound tightly around my neck and listened.

This girl was poorly dressed, wore glasses at the age of 7, and was overweight. It saddens me to say this, but she probably didn’t get to hear words like that often. Perhaps that’s why after that hug, she didn’t stop smiling.

Being a Disney princess often grants me direct access to the hearts of little girls, which is a overwhelming and wondrous privilege. I will always remember that hug as the reminder of how powerful words of love can be.


Photo by Kandles KN Photography

Photo by Kandles KN Photography

MAGfest the MAGnificent convention

One week.

One week after my first MAGfest, and I wish it was still going on!

Since I live in the local area, I initially went to a super-crowded Katsucon the weekend prior, so I was expecting another crazy ride for MAGfest. I was delightedly wrong!

First, I have never been to a 4-day convention, and attending a Thursday convention is very relaxing… and incredibly advantageous. You can sign up for any events/games/tournaments before anyone else. You get uninhibited access to all the displays, games, and vendor’s booths. The world is your burrito.

Second, there are a lot more panels that I was actually INTERESTED in! And the game room; THE GAME ROOM! An entire floor dedicated to tabletop gaming and meeting new people. An even BIGGER room focuses on arcade games.

But the thing that stood out the most? The photo shoot availability.

Unlike Katsucon, there were no battles for a tiny space of corner to shoot characters in. Even though both conventions were held in the exact same location, the entire indoor and outdoor area was clear and free, and the talented photographers were eager to shoot!

At Katsucon, this section would never be so empty in the day time. NEVER. (photo taken by me)

Seriously, if you’re interested in getting some free quality photo shoots in your cosplay, I HIGHLY recommend MAGfest.


Thursday con = no background crowd. It was great for my Rogue cosplay.

Early con = no crowd in background!

I don’t think I’ve experienced a convention that is so perfectly tailored for endless games and incredible photos.

I ran into 'Eurobeat Kasumi Photography' every day of the convention... and he shot some amazing stuff with me!

I ran into ‘Eurobeat Kasumi Photography’ every day of the convention… and he shot some amazing stuff with me!

Only 350+ days left until the next MAGfest. I’m looking forward to it!

Winning $$ for your costumes

Cosplay can be an expensive hobby! Fabrics, sewing machines, props, armor, wigs, makeup… it adds up pretty quickly.

I have found a way to ease that financial burden, and it only takes a little bit of effort! How do I do it?

I submit my costumes in competitions.

No, I’m not talking cosplay competitions… although I did win one of those once (and only got some DVDs and a shotglass); I’m talking about any event going on in your local area.

Keep your eyes and ears open. Research what locations nearby give good prizes for contests and special events. Know what special movies and events are coming up soon (these are often in-line with contest promotions). Save this information somewhere where you can check up on them every now and then.

I won a $25 gift card at my library’s Halloween contest.


I submitted my Princess Peach costume in for a radio Halloween contest and won $500 in prizes (which I promptly sold).


I found out about a bar that was holding a Star Wars costume contest to hype up the new movie coming out and won $1000 (there was only one other competitor).


These events I found out with minimal research. Imagine what you could be winning if you actively look for these things on a regular basis!


For your convenience, I’m adding a list of places you can start looking for contests at:

  • Library
  • Fair/festival
  • Community center
  • Bar/nightclub
  • Privately owned restaurant
  • Radio stations near you (check their online contest info)
  • Comic/game store
  • Anime/comic/costume clubs


Good luck, and happy hunting!

How to start a local cosplay group

It’s pretty easy to find a group that enjoys sports, cars or the outdoors… but what about the less-popular hobby of cosplay? (this applies to many other hobbies, too)

If you desire something that doesn’t exist yet, the chances are that others feel the same way as you. So start it!

The internet is a beautiful tool for communication and bringing people together. I used AND Facebook to make a fun local group. A simple title works best to get the message across, so I used “DC Cosplay Photo Shoots.”

Figure out the “why do we exist” factor and write it down. Make sure it’s somewhere public where the rest of the group can see it. This will be your backbone to support all your future decisions.


Have some activities planned out. This doesn’t have to be too complicated. It could be something as simple as a meet & greet or video game night and go from there.


  1. Ask people for opinions!
    1. You can’t do everything on your own – nobody can. Your members will come up with stuff you might never have thought of. I have learned SO much about making a group by asking members who are just as interested in making DC Cosplay Photo Shoots grow and improve.
  2. Be patient. They will come.
  3. Once you find a few interested members, urge them to tell their friends. This is how word can spread and your group can grow!



  • Find out if there’s already a group in the area
  • Make an easy group name & motto
  • Start simple
  • Ask for help


Yes, I know that this is a little bit of work. I myself am an ‘artsy’ type that tends to avoid organization and guidelines. But I did it! And so can you! Let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to help! 🙂

Finding free photographers (4/4) –

Let’s just get this part out of the way: is NOT a dating site. It’s a place where people with similar interests can meet up to enjoy these interests together (i.e. sports, wine, underwater basket weaving, etc.).

That’s why it’s oh-so-easy to find a photography group and maybe a good photographer that you want to work with. But it requires work. More work than my other strategy tips for getting a good photographer for free (see previous posts) doesn’t work the same as a lot of social sites. You can’t just post into a forum and have others actively respond and interact with you. There are ‘Discussion’ forums, but not many people frequent them, and you can’t really put up a billboard saying “HEY SOMEONE COME SHOOT ME IN MY COSTUME FOR FREE.” You will need a bit of finesse to find someone you like, but that work could turn out some really wonderful results.

Here’s what I do:

  1. Find a photography group
  2. Join it
  3. Look through the photos in the group
  4. Contact a photographer who has photos you really enjoy
  5. Magic

Photography finds (magical)

“Yes, I think I’ll join ALL OF THEM”


“Hmm, this ‘Ben’ guy has some cool photos. I shall message him.”



Let the magical journey begin!


Problems (dun dun duuuun)

Okay, so many photography groups deal with the nudity realm… which is why your offer of something different might be very appealing. HOWEVER, there are people in the world who will want you to take your clothes off for photos. If you’re not comfortable with their request, move to another photographer. You’re at a disadvantage when you approach a photographer first, because they hold the bartering cards in the deal. Stay strong in your convictions and keep searching for a photographer who is right for you. (Now this is starting to sound like a dating site, lol!)


Articles in Finding Photographer series:

The basics


Model websites

Finding free photographers (3/4) – Model sites

There are several free sites for models, photographers, and designers to meet up for fun shoots. If you’re a cosplayer, finding a decent photographer here can be very easy! Many photographers are looking for something unique to shoot, so you’ll blow them out of the water by having some cool costumes for them to work with. If I want to quickly find TONS of photographers, I use Many modeling sites have similar layouts to what I’m about to walk you through. Here’s how I do it:

Click on ‘Castings’.


Casting Call or Availability Notice. Choosing is up to you, but there are TONS of models available to photographers, and your notice might be lost in the sauce. If you have a specific theme in mind, try going for the Casting Call.


This is where you want to start selling yourself as a good shoot idea .


Here are some details on my mock-up post. I put the most recognizable characters up at the top and added a bit extra information for characters people might not know. Notice how I didn’t use the word ‘cosplay.’ Non-cosplayers might not understand, and photographers might pass you up because they don’t know what cosplay is. Speak to their understanding.


If you’re a bit impatient on the waiting, you can find photographers who have an availability notice up. There might not be many, depending on your location, but it’s worth a shot! Here’s what I pulled up with a quick search. 🙂



Now sit back and wait for messages!



Articles in Finding Photographer series:

The basics


Finding free photographers (2/4) – Facebook

If you’re as much of a Facebook fanatic as I am, you probably spend a good chunk of your time on the site. Why not use this time to your advantage!


  1. When you’re going to a convention and want decent photos of your costume, take a quick selfie/ full-body a few days before. Post these photos on the convention’s Facebook page and ask if any photographers want to do a free photo shoot. Many people will show pictures of the character they are GOING to be, but looking at an animated character doesn’t have the same impact as seeing the real deal. Stand out above the rest!

My first time wearing my entire Snow White before Otakon. It was a test, but I still posted it and got a lot of great responses!



  1. Join a FB photography group. There are people from ALL ranges of photography skills and they’ll likely be very excited to try shooting a different style of model (that’s you!), even if they don’t know your character. Post a list of costumes you own and see if anyone wants to work with you.
    • Advertise yourself as a FREE model. They might not know what ‘cosplay’ is, but enthusiastic free models aren’t always easy to come by.
    • Choose your photography group carefully. If they focus on nature shots, cars, nudes, etc. they might be less interested in costume photos. (Still might be worth a try)


In my next post I’ll go over some tips for advertising on free modeling websites. 🙂


Articles in Finding Photographer series:

The basics

Model websites

Finding free photographers (1/4)

Whether you buy your costume, make it yourself or find something in your closet to throw together… you’re probably going to want a picture of it. And you’re not alone! I myself have spent hours online searching through google to find photos of myself that people snapped at conventions. They’re usually not a very pretty sight.

If you want better quality photos, you usually end up paying through the nose for a ½ hour photo shoot at the con, or spending 5 minutes in a tiny photo booth setup in the corner of the dealer’s room. This is not for me. And if it’s not for you, I have found a solution!

There are plenty of photographers out there who want to shoot you just as much as you want to document your amazing costume. All you have to do is sign up for model websites or group meetups. It is that. Easy. Below are few places I recommend trying out. I will go over some of the benefits and ways to advertise yourself on each site in the next couple of posts.

(Click for direct link)