It really just depends on who your photographer is. A good photographer knows how to control certain light outside vs inside and they’ll know how to manipulate the situation to their needs.
Generally speaking though, inside on a backdrop is MUCH more controlled than outside on location. FOR EXAMPLE:
My Elizabeth shoot was inside on a backdrop, with a soft box light and a hot light. I was in TOTAL control of how this looked. If it was too dark, I could adjust the lights and dim them. And I could moved them forward above or below me to get the exact shadows I wanted. And I could do it quickly and easily.
My Karliah shoot was determined by nature. My Photographer and I were trying to recreate the look and feel of Skyrim as much as possible. So we had to wait until sunset to go out. We had to take the photos quickly, because sunset only stays just light enough for a limited time before it gets to dark. Often times we had to comprise where I stood, because I had to be facing the sun or it would be too dark. Or a building or some trees would over shadow my face. In some instances thats what we wanted, because it looked more real. Not to mention, this was in the summer — all the leaves were very green and vibrant. We had to lay in browns and sepia filters when we edited them, or it wouldn’t have looked right.
As far as which is better — it REALLY depends not only on your photographer but what you are trying to achieve.
If you want a really nice glamour shot of your costume, showing off the costume itself and focusing on your face and you altogether — go with a inside light room if you can get into one.
The whole point of shooting on a location is to recreate the setting. Your not just cosplay — your acting in a shot to bring that character to life. You may sacrifice the focus on the costume, but your adding a different level to it.
If you want to recreate the scene for the character — shoot on location. But make sure you read up on the basic of shooting outdoors, and make sure you plan what time you go out. The sun isnt always gonna be the same at different times of day. The break of dawn and midday are completely different. Also read up on what its like to shoot with two or more different light sources. Understanding the basics of different kinds of light (florescent, daylight, tungsten…) and how to manipulate them will REALLY help.
A good way to learn how to shoot well outside, it to first shoot in a controlled light room though. :) You learn a lot about just photography in a controlled light room. Shooting outside first with no knowledge can be disheartening, because you won’t realize how many thing factor into your photo.
Here’s another comparison just for kicks:
Controlled light on a backdrop, indoors.
Uncontrolled light, outside, noon time.
One is more focused on the glamour of the cosplay, the other, because its in a setting outside — looks more like a still of a portrayed scene.
As far as what we prefer — that matters on what we want to do!! For Elizabeth and Loki, we wanted to focus on our faces. We did do shoots with them to portray a real life setting though too.
It is fun to shoot on location but I will say that is MUCH more of a hassle to. You need to make sure you are allowed to shoot wherever you plan to. You gotta make sure you go at the right time, and most likely you may need a few people to help you out with the camera and the lighting and the costume. I mean, just getting in cosplay out in public is already a hassle. Doing it just for poses and such for a shoot is even more annoying. Shoots are surprisingly quick. But shooting on location is a lot of stop and go pacing.
I would say that shooting in a controlled lightroom is more expensive. Because tripods, hot lights and soft boxes, grids and backdrops get VERY expensive.
Shooting outside is DEFINITELY cheaper. (Unless you are paying for the location by the hour.) Because the set and the light and the props are provided for you already.
It all just depends! But I hoped I helped a little!