What I did differently at Anime Expo 2015

This year was the ninth AX that I’ve attended.  For 8 of those visits, I pretty much shot AX the only way I knew how, doing hallway shots.  What this meant was I spent the majority of my time hanging out in the big lobby outside South Hall just looking for cosplayers to shoot and occasionally venturing over to the West Hall.  And before anyone thinks that this will be an anti-hallway shooting post, it’s not.  I’ve had a lot of fun over the years shooting this way.  I’ve shot a lot of photos I’m still proud of when I just did hallway shots.  I’ve posted a few select photos from previous years below.

Anime Expo 2010:

 

Anime Expo 2011

 

Anime Expo 2012

 

Anime Expo 2013

 

Anime Expo 2014.

Its kinda cool to see how my photography has changed.  Most of shots from 2014 probably aren’t even considered hallway shots since I did a lot of them outside the con… but most were just shoots I did as I came across a cosplayer and weren’t scheduled.

This year was decidedly different.  We’ve been shooting with off camera lighting and soft boxes more and more at previous cons but we were always mobile and shooting at various spots.  At AX, we were going to be in one spot for the entire con.  This would have been the first time we shot this way at AX.  We brought all our equipment and set up outside West Hall in a hallway leading to the parking garage.  It was such a different experience.

Here are some of my photos from this year:

Anime Expo 2015 Day Two

Anime Expo 2015 Day Three

Anime Expo 2015 Day Four

 

What I missed about my old way of shooting (hallway shooting style)

  • Didn’t get to see and shoot a lot of amazing cosplayers
  • Didn’t get to talk or hang out with a lot of friends
  • Being able to walk everywhere and anywhere, just basically going with the flow

 

What I didn’t miss about hallway shooting this year

  • I heard it was crowded (confirmed attendance was approximately 90,000 plus)
  • Trying to take a photo of a cosplayer or cosplayers at the same time as twenty other photographers
  • All the walking around and being on my feet all day
  • Distracting backgrounds
  • Terrible lighting (dependent on the time of day or where the cosplayer is at the particular moment that I ask them to pose for me)

 

What I loved about being stationary

  • With so many awesome cosplay friends, they were kind enough to come over to us and take the time to shoot with us, despite us being in a sort of out of the way area.
  • Ability to bring all of Erik’s lighting equipment (light stands, soft boxes, weights to hold down the light stands, a stepping stool, chairs, lots of water, and a rolling cart to carry all that equipment)
  • We could set up our equipment and have a sort of makeshift studio and play around with gels on our flashes
  • It was quite relaxing.  In between shoots we could just sit and talk to friends who came by to visit us.
  • With our chairs set up, we could let the friends or boyfriends/girlfriends of the cosplayers we were shooting sit down and chill out while we do our shoot.
  • When we did get a chance to shoot some amazing cosplays, we had a lot more time to shoot them, try various poses and play around with the lighting, something we wouldn’t normally have the chance to do in the lobby.

 

What I didn’t love about being stationary

  • At the spot we chose, it was out of the way and a lot of people have mentioned to me that they couldn’t find us.
  • It got really really warm where we were shooting.  There wasn’t much of an airflow most of the day (thanks to our friend Tony, we had a tiny fan that helped a bit)
  • Sometimes we would have several minutes of downtime because there wasn’t anybody to shoot since we weren’t in an area where a lot of cosplayers pass by.
  • Other than when we changed the color gels on our flashes, essentially all our shots have the same background.  Although I don’t really consider this a downside because I was happy with the variety of the poses we got and the ability to use lights and soft boxes.  I just mentioned this because someone asked me about having the same background in all my shots.  You can’t have everything when you’re shooting at a con, so you have to just work with what you have.
  • Last year, with the help of some online articles, we discovered quite a few good locations at the LA Convention Center to do photoshoots.  I didn’t get to shoot at any of those locations this year.
  • Missing out on the photo sets located inside West Hall.  We did a few shots in them last year which turned out pretty good.
  • Not being able to check out thevendor hall in South Hall.  I know it was crowded, but there might have been some cool vendors that we missed out on since we didn’t even go inside.

 

So… will I do this next year?  Probably.  I really enjoyed shooting the way we did.  I was happy with the shots I got.  I felt like I learned a lot.  I feel like I still have a lot to learn.  I know a lot of talented photographers and I am inspired by their work and I hope to be half as good as they are!  So despite the drawbacks of shooting the way we shot this year… I think the upsides are more in line with how I see my photography evolving.

 

How do you shoot at AX?

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