I've had a few more questions lately about why an image didn't get accepted, or what qualifies to be included, so I thought I would try to expand on the things that influence my decisions a little bit. You can read the earlier entries here bestofcosplay.deviantart.com/j… and here bestofcosplay.deviantart.com/j… if you aren't familiar.
There is a level of subjectivity in making selections. What gets accepted one day might not get accepted the next, but generally speaking it's about following good photography principals in the image, and good craftsmanship in the costumes. I live for the times when I open an image and I'm stopped in my tracks. If a photo makes me go "Wow!", it's automatically in. And sometimes, in spite of all your best efforts, the image just isn't a "Wow" image.
Quite a few of the images in the group are ones I have found and requested to be added by the artists. But I also get a decent number of submissions, and maybe 30% are ultimately accepted. (BTW, I accept submissions from cosplayers, photographers, and fans who want to suggest an image they found that just *has* to be here...) No, costumes do not have to be made by you only; I have no way to verify that anyway. Some costumes are "easy" - for example a normal modern day character wearing jeans and a t-shirt... Those have a hard time passing because there isn't much to make it stand out as a cosplay. And yet some entries for Death Note are just simple clothing, but the styling, setting, and photo composition all work together to make it stand out. They show an attention to detail in recreating the source material.
Lighting often is enough to get a photo rejected. Shooting at mid-day without a reflector or fill light will get most shots rejected, because the light is harsh and flat and makes it hard for the image to pop. Washed out colors will do the same (note that this is different than desaturating the image for the artistic effect). And posing actually affects a lot of images that get declined. Posing is harder than some people realize... it's not just standing in a position. It's posture, facial expressions - sometimes moving naturally and freezing in a pose will yield a far better image than placing yourself in a pose you *think* is what it looks like mid-motion. Just take a look at any photo of someone pretending to be running fast, as opposed to actually running. You can tell it looks fake. And using Photoshop to paint a "black" background, or to create a bokeh effect around the edges isn't going to make up for not properly exposing the photo in camera. You think I can't tell, but it's really easy once you understand how.
And regarding poses - enough with the up-side down anime character laying on the ground! It's over done. I've accepted a few... will probably accept a few more along the way... but I have seen the same tired shot over and over.
Along similar lines, sometimes a photo gets rejected because I've seen that one character just too many times recently. Those images often show up later if they are re-submitted or if I find them again. But please, don't just keep resubmitting endlessly! I've rejected some submissions multiple times, and I have had to firmly request that the cosplayer stop with those same images. Fortunately I haven't had to ban/block anyone yet. The same is true when a cosplayer or photographer submits many shots of the same cosplay. I might accept one or two and reject the rest.
Some images get rejected because they are risque; they are fabulous images and I hate to turn them away, but I do... Some are merely fan service - costumes of fair to great quality, but poses with no other purpose than to flash panties or tease a boob shot. I have made it a point not to take the easy route of posting lots of nearly nude or busty women just for the sake of followers, so those will get declined as well. In fact, I sometimes feel guilty because it seems to be hard to find really great cosplay photos with men or male characters, and I ask myself if I'm including too many female characters, or too many sexy (but cosplay appropriate) costumes.
I used to accept a mediocre photo because I was blown away by the effort... whether that means a full-body articulated armor costume, or a group photo with absolutely every character in full costume, many hours were spent pulling off the cosplay and I was impressed. Or I just geeked-out to see an obscure character included. I don't accept those as often, but I still might. Also, some people have said "Well, I've seen worse pictures than mine in the gallery..." Yeah, you're right. Some of them impressed me for reasons that at the time I over looked the photo quality. And I've since removed some of those, too.
On occasion I'll get an image that I can tell there is a really fabulous cosplay there, but the photo is just mediocre. Or even terrible! Many times I have poked around the deviant's gallery hoping to find a better photo. If I do, I'll reject the submissions, but then request a better image be included instead. A few times I've even contacted the deviant and asked if they had other images that weren't posted. Love the work, hate the photos... not Bestof Cosplay!
I get a steady trickle of submitters asking why an image wasn't accepted. A few have left the group because of it. I don't take it personally, and I hope you will understand that it's not personal against you either. I've rejected photos from some big names in the Cosplay world - cosplayers whose work I've gladly featured before that - because *that* photo, *that* costume didn't Wow me. Occasionally I respond to a question on a particular image rejection... especially if the work was *almost* there... But if I don't respond, it's usually because of one of the reasons I covered in the first two posts.
Sometimes I get asked "how could I make this image better", and that can be hard to explain. On the one hand, there are probably a hundred different little things that would make the photo better... and on the other, it's not something you can teach by explaining one photo. It's something you have to develop by looking at thousands and thousands of good and bad images. You start by having someone explain the rules of composition, and you look at a thousand images until you can draw the lines for the Rule of Thirds in your minds eye... Then you look at 10,000 more images until you understand that the "rules" are just guidelines, and some of the best, most famous images in history violate the rules, but there was something there that catches the eye. And then you look at 10,000 more until it it becomes an instinct, automatic... "This is art. This is Bestof Cosplay."