Station Unity 2022 - Review
This year I decided to check out a new summer convention, Station Unity, which is a sci-fi and fantasy-based convention held at the Gaylord National Harbor. This is the same location that Katsucon is held in the winter, so I was very familiar with the location. I went into the convention expecting a fair number of people overall, just because it was in the same place as Katsucon, and people wouldn’t freeze to get photos. However, I was wrong.
This is only the second year for Station Unity, and from my perspective the convention was poorly attended. I base this opinion off the time I was there and several observations. First, I was scheduled to be at the convention Friday through Sunday staying at the Gaylord on Friday and Saturday night. I ended up checking out of the hotel on Saturday and only staying till about noon, due to the lack of people and interesting panels. I was supposed to go back on Sunday, but ended up having to deal with a personal item precluding my attendance on Sunday. I also felt the convention was poorly attended base on the observation there was no real line, at any point I looked into the registration room, to pick up badges. There were very only a handful of people at the panels. The dealer’s room and the hallways seem completely empty. And one of the most telling items, from a photographer’s perspective, was that the gazebo was completely empty. Now the convention might have gotten slightly busier after I left, but the atmosphere was severely lacking energy.
Now I attend conventions to work with cosplayers, and book cosplay sessions. For a convention like Katsucon I usually book about 8 shoots a day and average around 2000 frames across two and a half days. I knew Station Unity was new but did expect to book more than 3 sessions and shoot more than 132 frames. In actuality, I only shot one session, due to two cancelations one on the cosplayer’s part and one on my part due to a personal issue. And usually stop dozens of cosplayers for hall shots, but in this case, I only worked with 5 and for a lot longer time then normal, basically I did mini-sessions with these cosplayers. One thing I can say that was ok, was that due to the lack of people, I could actually get some long shots across the Gazebo level resulting in better framing with the fancy doors on the Cherry Blossom Ball room. Then there was shooting at the gazebo without people, but I also find the gazebo a bit over rated so not a huge bonus for me. Now normally at this point I would talk about camera settings and my favorite photos, but I’m going to skip as I don’t feel I did enough photography at the convention to talk about it and just jump to my conclusion. You can see the few images I shot at the convention here: Station Unity 2022.
|Cosplayer: @triellfreschi (Instagram)|
Station Unity, will I attend again? Maybe. I might go for just a day next time and not waste money on a hotel until the convention gets a little more popular. Was it worth the overall amount of time and money I spent this year to attend? No. Does it have any positives? Yes, if you want to get those elusive shots that are hard to get at Katsucon. The lack of people makes moving around popular photo spots easier. However, since the Gaylord runs themed summer vacation specials, some of the areas in the atrium level are decorated to match the them and there are kids’ activities set up. Overall, I feel just lack of interesting panels (most panels were just showing a movie), advertising, timing (weekend before DragonCon and opening weekend of Maryland Renaissance Faire), and different fan base played into the perceived low turnout. I'm not going to pass a final judgement on the convention just yet, I'll give it a few more years to see if it takes off.
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