Comic Con Engagement Shoot Tips

Couple in a mirror dressed as Spiderman and Supergirl for a Comic Con engagement shoot

Time is ticking down for my favorite holiday of the year to arrive… Halloween! To get everyone in a spooktacular mood, I thought I would share photos from Nancy and Jeff’s engagement shoot at this year’s Comic Con. For those of you who don’t know, Comic Con is the preeminent conference for anime, sci-fi, superheroes, and other caped crusaders of all sorts. Nancy and Jeff’s shoot went off without a hitch, and I have compiled a few tips if you were planning your own Comic Con engagement shoot or any other type of similar adventure at a big event.

Couple dressed as Spiderman and Supergirl for a Comic Con engagement shoot

Comic Con Engagement Shoot Tips — Nancy & Jeff’s Shoot

First, I should note that Nancy and Jeff’s Comic Con photo session was in addition to their more traditional engagement shoot, held at Riverside Park. When I first met Nancy and Jeff, they let me in on a little secret – that they were huge Comic Con fans, and would be dressing up for the annual conference. As a sci-fi and video game-nerd myself, I offered to add in a quick shoot at Comic Con as part of their wedding photography package. Who would pass up the chance to photograph clients in capes and a mask? Not this wedding photographer.

We scheduled the shoot for Thursday, which is the opening day and one of the slowest days of the conference. The plan was to meet Nancy and Jeff at their apartment, and then document their commute from near Nancy’s home in Queens to the conference at the Javits Center on the far side of Midtown. Along the way I took photos of the entire trip, from the subway ride to the cast of characters we met at the conference. We had a great time, and I was there for about an hour with Nancy and Jeff as they explored the vendor expo part of the conference. At the end of my time with Nancy and Jeff we set up some portraits at the Javits Center entrance and afterwards Nancy and Jeff then spent the rest of the day enjoying Comic Con.

Couple dressed as Spiderman and Supergirl for a Comic Con engagement shoot

Comic Con Engagement Shoot Tips — Tips for Your Shoot

If you would like to plan your own Comic Con engagement shoot, here are my photo tips:

Come prepared with costume first aid. At this year’s conference, the SyFy network had a booth where professional makeup artists and costume designers could help you fix any costume emergency. From duct tape, to sewing needles, these helpful artists had everything you would need to fix your costume. This, however, is a new addition to the conference and you can’t count on the SyFy network providing this service next year. To make sure you don’t suffer a wardrobe malfunction, make sure you bring with you a first aid kit to handle any costume mishap. The daily trip on the subway is brutal enough for any New Yorker, much less one dressed head-to-toe as Darth Vader. So bring enough of a repair kit with you to make sure that your costume will survive both the commute and the shoot.

Plan for crowds. Comic Con in New York is second only in size and scale to Comic Con in Los Angeles. Last year, an estimated 180,000 people attended the conference over the four-day weekend. Though we arrived early in the morning on the first day of the conference, we felt packed into the Javits Center like sardines. And you can bet that Thursday was the least crowded day. If you are planning a similar shoot at a big event, know that timing is everything. Planning your shoot for a busy Saturday when the Walking Dead cast will be in attendance is not a smart move. Pick a low-traffic time, and be thankful for any space you can find. For our shoot, it was difficult to get an uncluttered view of Nancy and Jeff without people walking into my shot.  Moreover, it was near impossible to find a solid background.  I was able to find some space at the entrance to the Javits Center where an exhibitor had set up curtains. These curtains proved to be the perfect backdrop for a few shots taken off to the side. I also used a metal background that is the wall to another vendor exhibit. What you can’t see in the shot are other costumed characters sitting on the ground below Nancy and Jeff. If you crop in tight and concentrate on the couple, you can’t go wrong.

Document the entire process. Since space is at a premium within the Javits Center, you know you won’t be able to get that many great shots at the conference itself. Rather, I suggest that you document the entire process and plan to have some photos outside of the conference. In other words, start with your couple as they are transforming themselves from mere mortals into superheroes. Putting on a costume and make up make for fantastic photos. Also, going with your couple on the subway and seeing the reaction of ordinary NYC commuters is priceless. (Though you might note that most of the commuters did not did not even bat an eye at Nancy and Jeff’s superhero get up; I love New York.) Comic Con does allow you to leave and come back with your pass in hand, so you might also plan for some photos in the general vicinity. The Javits Center is right on the water, and you can easily go down and take some photos by the Hudson River with the New Jersey skyline in the background. You are also right next door to the High Line which, though the High Line will be very crowded, the elevated park can give you a great perspective on the nearby skyscrapers. Furthermore, the part of the High Line closest to 34th Street is the least crowded part of the park. But heck, why not go all the way and take a walk to Times Square? Forty-second Street is just a stone’s throw away from the Javits Center, so why not have your couple join the madness and walk down to Times Square? They might even get a tip for posing with tourists.

Photograph your couple in and out of character. Nancy and Jeff’s photo shoot was a balance of showing them as a loving couple and also photographing them as badass superheroes. I made sure to take photos of them together with their masks off as well as in full character. You might also try photographing the couple as if their characters were engaged. How would Superman ask Wonder Woman to marry him?

Don’t forget the details. Comic Con is a feast for the eyes. You have people dressed up in costume all around you, plus tons of toys for sale. Make sure you take photos of everything, including other couples. If you’re going to take photos in such a crazy location, you need to give your viewers a complete sense of the level of crazy.

Enjoy the photos of Nancy and Jeff, and make sure to check out their wedding photos at the Bear Mountain carousel. These two continued their love for living in costume, and encouraged their guests to come dressed up as well.  Get in touch with me if you are interested in scheduling your own engagement portrait during next year’s Comic Con — October 4-7, 2018.

I’ll have more photos of couples in costume on Monday when I share with you the elegant Halloween-themed wedding of Alyssa and Mohan. More importantly, I’ll share with you photos from this season’s New York Magazine Weddings. Pick up an issue today of New York Magazine Weddings, where you can see a full profile of Alyssa and Mohan’s wedding, illustrated with my photos! Happy Halloween to me.

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If you would like to see more images from my engagement shoot portfolio, then please visit my website – KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com

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