I attended a cosplay photography event… at a British university!

Officer Jenny from the Pokemon franchise shot at CosXPo 2022
Officer Jenny from the Pokemon franchise - cosplayer @amy_elizamay (Image credit: Beth Nicholls)

CosXPo is an event held annually at Reading University in the UK, that brings together those who participate in the art of cosplay as well as professional and amateur photographers who specialize in capturing images of them. 

The weekend event aimed to educate, engage, and inform attendees on areas such as crafting a costume, cel shading, prop making, how to cosplay on a budget, and for photographers how to get started on your journey as a cosplay photographer. 

• Looking for the best camera for portraits? (opens in new tab)

I attended this year's highly anticipated and long-awaited (thanks, COVID) show, which saw two main photography oriented events: a talk from Carlos Adama (opens in new tab) on how to begin shooting cosplay, and a hands-on photography workshop led by Jamie Flack (opens in new tab).

CosXPo usually takes place across a sunny March-April weekend, showcasing a multitude of talent and craft through expert panels and workshops hosted by mentors designed to benefit all creative abilities, from demonstrations on wearing knock-off knockers (breast plates), to cosplay life hacks and the steps to becoming a foam-smith's apprentice. 

Behind the Scenes of @opal.ink.cosplay (opens in new tab) live painting @baldsasquatch_dat (opens in new tab) by @mikeburnage_photography (opens in new tab). (Image credit: Mike Burnage / CosXPo)
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The initial idea of sharing this wide breadth of knowledge with the community of other cosplayers is how CosXPo was born. 

The first event was held in 2018, and its organizers created a convention that they themselves dreamt of attending: an event that focuses on all things cosplay, photographer collaborations, skill building, knowledge sharing and technique mastering. 

Obi-Wan and Padme - Cosplayers: @kronankreative (opens in new tab) and @aimocreative (opens in new tab) by @benjones_photography (opens in new tab) (Image credit: Ben Jones / CosXPo)
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Exciting photo opportunities were present at CosXPo this year with two hand-painted backdrops for photographers and models to make use of: a sci-fi portal, and an anime-style classroom setting created by Jamie Flack and Tom Rushmer. 

Areas surrounding the campus of Reading University also offered some extraordinary shooting locations. The most popular location was the Harris Gardens, located a five-minute walk away, that featured beautiful blossom trees of various colors. 

Bowsette - Cosplayer: @kasumikat (opens in new tab) - Photo by Megaera Amis of @thecosplayjournal (opens in new tab) (Image credit: The Cosplay Journal / CosXPo)
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Other popular locations that photographers made use of featured a cave, a large oversized abandoned log, industrial architecture, and a bridge near a charming duck pond. The photo opportunities were endless! 

I only attended on the Friday and had a specific train to catch, otherwise I could've easily gotten lost in shooting at every location, exploring all that the campus had to offer.

Sabrina Spellman - Cosplayer: @miss_maisy_moo (opens in new tab) Photo by @iphotouk (opens in new tab) (Image credit: Darren Fitzjohn / CosXPo)
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If this weren't enough, CosXPo also had vendors on the upper floor and in a separate area selling hand-crafted goods from wigs to jewelry, and as for food there were numerous stalls, and a Starbucks, which is all that was needed to keep me fueled for the long day, although shoutout to the Bagel shop as the "Boss" bagel was fantastic.

Luke Skywalker from The Mandalorian - Cosplayer: @captain_tempest_cosplay (opens in new tab), Photo by @Gabe_grindey (opens in new tab) (Image credit: Gabe Grindey / CosXPo)
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The event truly did have everything, even an afterparty! From the photos shared to the social groups, it looked like everyone had a smashing time and the cosplay community spirit was truly amazing to see. A big thanks to Amy and the event team for having me at such a unique and fun photography event.

Definitely add CosXPo to your bucket list of events to attend next year for a day of talks, panels and exciting collaborations with talented folks who bring fantasy to life. 

Read more:

Best lens for portraits (opens in new tab)
Best photo editing software (opens in new tab)
What's in your camera bag? Cosplay photographer Carlos Adama reveals all (opens in new tab)
(opens in new tab)Kids of Cosplay combines the ordinary and extraordinary in striking photobook (opens in new tab)
Cosplay photographer Jamie Flack reveals his camera and kit bag essentials (opens in new tab)

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.