Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Seraphima - You Impressed Me

If you are following along, you know I've recently attended four comic book conventions. Considering I have absolutely no understanding of the genre, and a fairly strong aversion to crowds and meeting new people, you would think I would not have had a positive set of experiences. Well, surprisingly, the exact opposite is true.

I spent many years as a shoot and run photographer. In the last few I have found that actually speaking to the people I take photos of has enhanced my life greatly. Performers, Pirates, and Renaissance festival participants I understand pretty well. Cosplay folk - not so much.

Most are half my age... or less. A lot less. And the fact that I have no knowledge of what they live and breathe does not lend itself to common ground conversations.

Yet, here I was con after con, making friends, learning about the characters, marveling at the art, the crafts, the makeup, and the work that these folks put into their costumes. I made connections I never thought for a second would be possible. I got to know people on a much more personal level than I expected. I could fill a book telling of the those I met at these events but one in particular impressed me more than all the others.

DSC_1191I chanced upon Seraphima very early on the last morning of my very last con... and I spoke with her a dozen times that day. The more I got to know her, the more I had the feeling she was the embodiment of everything I had experienced. A stay at home mother of three (shocked me too) who makes most of her own costuming, jewelry, sells her photos, and does commission costuming. I have no idea how many times I may have come across her in the past. The day before she was blue and I spoke barely two words to her.

I found Seraphima to be engaging and easy to talk to, as in I didn't stutter once. She was willing to discuss all the nuances of con life I wanted to know but was not willing to ask anyone else. An experienced woman and cosplayer but with that down to earth and non-judgmental quality that permeates this world. About 30 minutes into our first conversation of the day she looked right into my eyes with the confidence of a state trooper and admitted to me she had a bit of a social anxiety problem but these cons had really helped.

Yeah - I'll say. It is a very common ailment that I too suffer from. When a phenomenally beautiful woman you just met is willing to talk to you like a life long friend, it's easy to put it aside for a while. After I left the for the day and went home, I found myself wanting to know more. For the first time in this new blog of mine, I thought it would be an appropriate moment for an online interview.

Bob - "How long have you been doing Cosplay?" Seraphima - That depends on what you would call "cosplay." Cosplay is defined as "costume play." So, I guess I have been doing it all my life. I was the only kid in middle school who still dressed up for Halloween. Honestly, medieval faires, pirate fests, zombicons, and comic book conventions are my escape from the real world. I love dressing up and pretending to be someone else for a few days. It also helps me break out of my shell. I suffered from social anxiety for years, and I grew up with a much more confident younger sister. I also had a hard time making friends growing up because I was so awkward, so going to faires and conventions surrounded by other people in the same awkward boat really changed my life. As far as comic book conventions go though, I have only been going since 2011. Megacon in Orlando was my first convention. Bob - "What is your favorite character to Cosplay?" Seraphima - My favorite Character to cosplay is Rogue, from the X-men. I try to do a different version of her at every convention I attend. I have done her costumes from specific stories, but I have also put my own spin on the character as well. My favorite version that I cosplay is a Steampunk Rogue that I do. It is also my most recognizable and most popular cosplay in the community. Bob - "So I don't overstate things, how well known are you?" Seraphima - I'm not too well known yet. I have been recognized by a few people, but I am still relatively new to the convention scene. In the last couple of weeks though, since Supercon (because I spent 3 days there), I have become more well known, mostly as "The Steampunk Rogue." Bob - "How many cons do you do a year." Seraphima - In the past, I would only do a convention a year (as an attendee). But, in the past, comic book conventions weren't as popular, so there weren't nearly as many previously as there are now. This year alone I have been to three conventions (2 as an attendee, 1 as a guest), and I will be attending at least 3 more before the end of the year (4 if you count Zombicon). And as I find more conventions, I will attend more conventions. I have never attended a convention outside of Florida though, but maybe someday.

A remarkable woman in a remarkable world. It was a pleasure to meet you Seraphima and I wish you a great amount of success in the future.

For a link to her website [click here]

UltraCon - 2014

UltraCon of South Florida was my fourth and last comic convention for the year. Parking was steep at $12.00 and the price at the door was $25.00. That said,  this was by far my favorite event. Not too small. Not so overwhelming large I suffocated in a pool of my own anxiety. (Breathe....) This event was perfect - for me at least. I had a few favorites among the hundreds of cosplayers I met these last few months and it seemed they all showed up for this event.

I had only planned to go one day but my friends from the Florida Ren Fest decided to beam in and time travel on two separate days. Kristal and her Star Trek crew on Saturday.

The Andorian Kristal and her crew

The South Florida Pirates in full Steam Punk finery on Sunday.

South Florida Pirates and Freya
With my friend and guide Scarlett Rose Cosplay out of town, I had to make some new friends while I waited for my old ones to show up - or wind up sitting in a corner. I was at this event 17 hours non stop over two days. That is a lot of posing, snapping, and talking. My annual limit I think all in one weekend. I did not realize how many new connections I had made in the cosplay world over these many months.

My original goal for attending events such as this was to fill my Flickr account with brightly colored and hopefully popular photos as well as follow my favorite rennies to the other events they attend after Ren Fest season. I have never played video games, read a comic book, role played, cosplayed, or even knew what a Pokemon was. Rather than being treated like a complete noob, everyone - and I do mean everyone - put out the effort to make me feel welcome, explain their costumes, talk about their books, toys, art, and invite me to future events. Absolutely everyone was kind enough to suffer through the constant flash of my camera and silly questions. That included the owner of the show Irving Santiago who was always available both days. Safe to say he had the most fun of anyone there.

Irving Santiago with R2D2

One of the things that most caught me off guard was not one but two well known cosplayers asked me to do a special photo shoot for them. I met both T.C. Dangerous and Aquaman at other shows and they know my work. So that was part of the surprise, but I think I did pretty well.

To see the results [click here] and [click here].

For the full set of photos from the event [click here]

I never really intended to be so caught up with the people at these events but it's impossible not to be. I heard a lot of opinions on this show from the vendors and attendees both positive and negative. After experiencing all the others, if I go to one again, it will be UltraCon. This event I'm sure will be bigger and better next year but with the same vibe that I enjoyed so much.

T. C. Dangerous

Rick Strafford - Aquaman 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Supercon - 2014

Supercon at the Miami Beach Convention Center was my third comic book convention this year. I spent $8.00 to park, $30.00 at the gate for a one day admission. This event was a little more expensive than the last two, but a thousand times larger than both combined.

Scarlett Rose Cosplay and Shaan Prime-Time Hogan
Katniss Everdeen and Cinna from Hunger Games: Catching Fire
My guide for the previous two events, Scarlett Rose Cosplay, was busy a good part of the day with photo shoots so I was pretty much on my own this time. Typically when I attend an event like this I spend a full day, meet a lot of people, shoot around 1,000 photos. Generally make a day of it.

The Ox and friends

Even though this is my third Supercon, and it has moved to a much larger venue this year, I was still exceedingly claustrophobic. My problem. Not theirs. I actually do this event to get over my aversion to crowds. It's the people at these events that allow me to walk through the door and have such a great time. They are amazingly friendly and engaging. Everyone I came in contact with was pleasant and one of the few places can I go in South Florida were crowds of people are still polite.

Unlaced Doll
With that said I only managed a quarter of the photos I normally take but I did spend a lot of time talking, meeting new people, checking out the artwork, the vendors, and seeing friends from previous events. Even so it is quite amazing the amount of things I did not see. I never made it to a panel discussion, the signing booths, the stage with what seemed non stop entertainment. Even if I spent another full day I think I would have not even made it to the costume contest.

Pooka Machine

When I shoot at the fairs I try and include everyone or at least as many as possible. I barely even saw half this event. And figuring most of the cosplayers changed costumes several times over the 4 days I feel like I saw practically nothing. Memorable moments were watching tattoo flash created or the genius robot artwork from household items. I even saw a 3-D scanner that was taking full body scans of cosplayers to then print out as full color, 3-D figurines.

One of my highlights was to speak to Tara Cardinal. I was privileged to attend a world premier screening of her movie "Legend of the Red Reaper" earlier in the year. That's where I met her for the first time. Her story of perseverance and sacrifice in creating her film was inspiring to me. And now I hear she wants to do it again. Truly an amazing woman.

Tara Cardinal
 promoting her movie
Legend of the Red Reaper
As difficult as it was to navigate and shoot quality photos for your enjoyment, I managed a few. To see them [click here]

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hero Hype Con - 2014

Hero Hype Con was a much larger show then Mini Con but still a small and personal event. $15.00 got me in the door and parking was a few bucks.

My friend Scarlett Rose Cosplay (Jenna) changed cosplay gears a bit and came as Queen Elsa from Disney's Frozen. She was also my guide, introducing me to some of the better known cosplayers and photographers.

Scarlett Rose Cosplay as Queen Elsa from Disney's Frozen

Even though this was a small convention, there was plenty to see and do. I arrived just before opening and spent the entire day. This included a costume contest playing to a packed audience.


The one thing that I'm learning is that everyone I meet, be they photographers, cosplay personalities, vendors, or staff, they are all pleasant and friendly. This show was a way to practice my photography and ask for poses. Not to mention the 50,000 hits I got on my Flickr page from it.

Speaking of which, for more photos from the day, [click here].