Sleeping Beauty cosplayers at the aquarium

Andrew sez, "This is unbelievable from an amateur photographer. The light, the costumers, the overall keyhole shape, it's spectacular. It looks like a lost Leibovitz outtake and it was shot by an amateur with a point & shoot."

The shot depicts three Sleeping Beauty cosplayers dressed as "Merryweather, Princess Aurora and Flora from Disney's Sleeping Beauty at the Georgia Aquarium during Dragon*Con Night 2009."

Dragon*Con 2009 (Thanks, Andrew!)

(Image: Positive Space)


  1. really, a stunning image. it’s great to see a post on photography that doesn’t involve a tiny thumbnail like reproduction.

  2. Visit any photography site and they’ll all tell you that you need to understand ISO, the “rules” (i.e. the thirds rule) and need oodles good equipment to succeed.

    All you really need is a good eye and a camera, and this proves that. The other stuff doesn’t hurt of course, but a good eye is the most important.

    1. The photo is quite lovely and does prove you can still take some lovely photos with a simple camera.

      I especially love the shark poking his head in the top.

      It might be a P&S but it is an LX3. That’s one of the far better P&Ss on the market. The shot also indicates she does know what she’s doing with the camera and according the Exif data she’s run the thing through Photoshop as well. So it’s not like she only had a good eye and took the photo.

      I do agree that a good idea is the most important part.

    2. Hijukal: I’m not sure why you’re down on photography sites telling people that they need to understand ISO (a must–good photos depend on good lighting, and ISO helps you control this, in part) and the rules of composition (rules this photographer clearly understands). On top of that, I’m willing to bet that most photography sites don’t actually tell you you need loads of equipment–in fact, most of them would probably tell you just to play around with whatever you have until you understand how it works inside and out before buying new gear.

      In fact, I’d say that this photo is a good example of what you can accomplish when you have a great understanding of lighting, composition, perspective, etc. Just stunning work!

      1. I agree that photographers should know the rules. But once they master them they should also be encouraged to break them.

        Photography is both an art and a science. Back in days before personal computers , embedded micro computers and charged coupled devices (Big shout out to Charles K. Kao, Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith! BTW) You really did have to know the tech, especially if you wanted to do your own darkroom work. It was also expensive.

        Now anybody can express themselves with a $100 camera, a free copy of GIMP and/or Picassa. Then show the world their stuff on Flickr! Once you have a camera it costs nothing but your time.

        Just like websites and blogs, you don’t need to know the tech anymore, 95% of them are dreadful, %4.9 are passable and % 0.1 are as good as this remarkable photo.

        Viva la revolution!

        1. I totally agree that breaking the rules is an important part of photography; I do, however, feel that this photo shows a strong awareness of the rules and how to use those rules to produce a great photo. All the elements of this image work together in wonderfully harmonious ways–no post-modern games going on here ;)

          I do, however, still think that a photographer–even one armed with the cheapest point and shoot available–is going to have to know a little about things like ISO and exposure times in order to take good shots. Sure, accidentally wonderful photos will happen, but if you keep shooting at a super-high ISO with a really short exposure, you’re going to get consistently iffy shots.

          And I’m not saying this as a snobby expert or anything–I’m just a dude who’s taken up an interest in photography over the past couple of years and has been pleased at how much a little attention to details has improved my shots. I just don’t want people to diss on the science half of the art and science of photography, so I thought I’d add my two cents.

      2. “I’m not sure why you’re down on photography sites telling people that they need to understand ISO”

        Bit late to be replying, sadmarvin, but here goes. Knowing about all of the technical details doesn’t necessarily make you a better photographer. Just like it doesn’t necessarily make someone a better race car driver.

        Yes, as you gain an interest in the hobby you might want to further explore your limits, and understanding the rules so they can be broken can be useful. Knowing why you might stop the ISO down from 100 to 800 helps take better photos, sure, but it’s not a necessity.

        However, I’ve seen plenty of photos from people with expensive equipment, talking all the talk, and they’re rubbish. And on the flipside, people with poor equipment have produced masterpieces. And I think anyone can find plenty of examples of these.

        There’s a great example of photo snobbery on Flickr, with the “deleteme” group a few years back, where a Cartier-Bresson shot was deleted for being rubbish: (yes, some would’ve been in jest but a lot was not).

        The current trend (I’m sure it’s the same with any hobby but I’ve noticed it specifically with photography) is for forum “experts” to tell newcomers that they’ll never take good photos with zoom/telephoto lenses, or that APS-C camera, or with any digital camera, etc.

  3. Images like this show the importance of taking a well composed photo in the first place, despite the power of editing software.

  4. That is a beautiful image.
    I love how the cosplayer on the left looks to be starting to levitate. Into the Dyson multiplier.
    (Sorry, had to make a geek joke, but the image is still wonderful!)

  5. What do you mean “unbelievable from an amateur photographer”? That’s like saying you can’t believe GNU Emacs or Linux is any good because they were written by amateur (i.e. unpaid, volunteer) programmers. Insulting.

  6. Good Lord; that’s so nice I actually thought it was a painting. I’m still not convinced it’s not…

  7. If the internet’s wide range of portfolio sites has taught me anything; it’s that anyone can take a stunning photograph. It’s managing to assemble an entire portfolio of stunning photos that proves you know what you’re doing and have the eye to tell which ones are perfect and which are only so so.

  8. As an attendee of Dragon Con and an avid costumer, this photo does not surprise me in the least. You will find that many costumers are pure artists in addition to LOVING having our picture taken. Many costumers will go to great lengths to set up photo shoots to showcase their work as well as they will arrange photoshoots as a compliment to their art. It’s harder to get an artistic image at a convention hotel, but this was a lovely backdrop. Bravo!

  9. dang, that’s beautiful. I kind of wish the blue gradient wasn’t visible in the upper right, though. It implies that there’s a wall there, when otherwise they could easily be staring into a portal floating in void.

  10. Sometimes you just get lucky. My aunt was taking a photo of my cousin with a disposable camera one day. Alex was peeking around a large oak tree. For some reason the F-stop on the disposable made the background blue, and the foreground – Alex and the tree – looked perfect. The background was blurred out fall color on maple trees. The lighting was perfect and it looked like a professional portrait photog took the shot. She had trouble when he went to get it made into large prints because the photo places thought it was professional and wouldn’t reporduce without “the professional’s written consent”, and she had to take the negs to a few different places before they would make prints.

  11. It’s patently absurd to suggest that something with this degree of artistic sophistication could have been created by a common dustman with a camera. Absurd!

    Surely this was taken by a nobleman, perhaps practicing his art incognito because, after all, photography is a bit risque and not entirely respectable.

  12. Wow, gorgeous pic! The colours are stunning (as well as the costumes)! Judging from the link posted by Yetiyetiyeti, this cosplay group takes great care in picking appropriate settings and backgrounds for their pictures.

  13. That’s a great photo. But it’s no surprise that an amateur can take a great photo with a point and shoot. After all, even amateurs like their photos to come out well, and the manufacturers of point-and-shoot cameras do their best to give it to them.

    The difference between an amateur and a pro (besides the fact that the pro gets paid) is consistency: the amateur lucks into photos like this, while the pro plans them. Thus, a pro will have hundreds of shots as awesome as this one, while the rank amateur will have a handful (and hundreds that they think are as awesome, but are not, because they can’t tell the difference yet).

    The amateur who took this photo was clearly fairly advanced in their understanding of light and composition. I would also imagine that some exposure compensation, at least, was used (virtually all cameras, including SLRs, in “auto” exposure mode would overexpose this shot). The colors are probably rather more vivid than they were in reality because that’s what most P&S cameras do, because that’s what people tend to like. This is an excellent case of someone knowing how to use their tool.

  14. Hey guys, I’m the girl that took the photo. It’s been pretty awesome to see the response this has received here and on Flickr, so thanks!

    For what it’s worth, the only editing I did in Photoshop was a small amount of cropping (apparently trying to center an image crouching while dressed as the third Good Fairy in a hoop skirt and a giant stuffed bra was difficult… who knew?!).

    I was very lucky with this photo. Awesome environment, awesome models (my lovely friends) and, IMO, an awesome point-and-shoot camera. I basically wandered by this window, saw a great opportunity, directed my friends to stand under it, stuck the camera on Auto and fired away.

  15. Positivespace, Amazing photo as all have said. (I love the username btw)

    One question, how did you prevent your camera in Auto mode from Overexposing the shot? (As mentioned in earlier post.) I can never get modern Cameras to not over expose in the type of situation you were shooting in.
    Thanks, and all the best,

    1. I know you asked PositiveSpace but if I may:

      Switch to Program mode if it’s a Canon or Nikon camera . Other brands might call is something else like semi-auto.

      This will allow you to control the exposure compensation. Almost all cameras allow you to adjust the calculated exposure by -2 to +2 stops (If you think it’s too bright, then try -1 or -2) I find -2 for example works great for performers on a theatre or concert stage.

      You can also turn off the flash if you don’t want it where as in full auto you don’t have a choice.

      You can also try some of the camera pre-sets like night or snow as well.

      See your particular camera manual for details on how to change your settings.

  16. D. Carroll,
    Thanks, I agree with everything you said, and have actually implemented several of the tips you mention.

    The problem is not actually with me, since I am a very odd Luddite, and I still take the vast majority of my pictures on my Fathers F2, with which he taught me to take pictures many years ago.

    The issue is that my partner normally takes many pictures with a Cannon Digital p/s, I believe its a G2. I figured out how to do most of the tips you mentioned, but she doesn’t ever want to have to do anything but point the camera at something and push a button. I was wondering how to get the type of exposure above from an Auto setting. Since it seemed from what positive space said that she was in Auto and this at least on my partner’s camera means that it is shooting with a flash in situations which I believe are similar to the photo above.

    Thank you for your input though, it is still helpful.

  17. My only problem with this photo is that they clearly used the wrong Disney-appropriated princess story. Would you photograph The Little Mermaid in the middle of a Bavarian forest?

  18. Responding to various folks, often more than one.

    Using a P&S has never meant that you couldn’t take good photos – it just limits your options somewhat.

    Being an amateur doesn’t mean you don’t know about “the rules” – it only means you do it as a hobby rather than getting paid for it. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Many respected photographers still follow the shotgun approach (taking 400 shots in order to get 4 good ones) – the difference is in knowing which 4 to keep, and never showing anyone the rest.

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