Katsucon 2023 Wrap Up

To be honest, I just wasn’t feeling Katsucon this year.  I think it was a combination of several things. First I had to travel for my normal day job to Norman, Oklahoma the week before Katsucon and be there till the Tuesday before the con.  I flew back on the Tuesday right before Katsucon and was worried I was going to have some flight trouble and miss the con and have to reschedule or refund all my scheduled shoots.  Due to traveling, I didn’t feel as prepared for my sessions as normal.  I also felt a bit tired and worn out, because the travel for work really reduced my tolerance level.  I’m normally an introvert who can act extroverted when needed, and the work trip took me to my extrovert limit.  

Then there was the convention itself, which I feel gets less and less organized every year, and the volunteers more frustrating to deal with.  I buy a VIP pass, just so I don’t have to stand in the long line on Thursday for badge pick up. Usually, there is separate VIP line outside the hall on Thursday to wait in until they open the hall to pick up badges.  This year they were mixing VIPs in with the normal line and separating them in the hall.  That misses the whole point of VIP.  I really miss when they treated their VIPs as special and had VIP badge pick up start an hour before normal badge holders pickup, and a VIP room.  Now the cost doesn’t really seem worth it.  Then there was mask requirement and enforcement, which was inconsistent and sporadic at best.  When the staff itself doesn’t wear masks, it makes it kind of hard to enforce a mask mandate, it is doubly hard when they have lifted all the mask requirements in the area.  So, the mask requirement seemed a little futile in my opinion.   Then blocking off the gazebo level in front of the cherry blossom ballroom and making badge only, really destroyed traffic flow, and I feel kind of sucked the life out of the level. Also I feel turning every possible location into a group shoot location, really makes it hard for people to just walk around and show off their cosplays like in years past. Finally, I just didn’t feel like Katsucon had the same vibe as past years.  I was very under whelmed and didn’t really see the quality and types of cosplays I’m used to seeing, which could be related to my shoot schedule. I also felt like the crowd was trending a lot younger than years past.  I’m probably not going to be attending Katsucon 2024.  I feel like I’m aging out of Katsucon, and the program I’m in for work is probably won’t make it doable  anyway.

Now let’s talk some photography. For Katsucon I was shooting with my Canon 80D with an 18-200mm Canon lens. I had two speedlights, one on camera which acted as a trigger 90-percent of the time and one on a light stand which my husband, who acts as my assistant, would hold during shoots. This year I booked 20 cosplay sessions and shot 1633 frames.  I shot a range of ISOs from ISO 100 to ISO 800 with my most common being ISO 200.  I shot a range of apertures from F4.5 to F14 with the most common aperture being F8.  My shutter speed ranged from 1/25s to 1/640s  with the most common speed being 1/125s and 1/100s.  Them my focal length ranged from 18mm to 135mm with the most common being 18mm. 

First let’s talk about the Cosplay Met Gala.  I love shooting that, but this year I didn’t pick a good spot as I was in the corner of the “T” of the T-shaped runway.  Normally this wouldn’t be a bad spot for a typical runway show, however since the runway is not raised, and everyone is sitting on the floor it is not an ideal angle.  For a typical runway I would have been able to get them walking towards me then again right when they hit the T-junction.   In this case I could get them coming towards me, but the angle at the T-junction was just too tight to get a good shot.   You can see all the images from the cosplay Met Gala: here.

One of the bright spots of the convention for me was working with Sunnyrea and her crew for an Our Flag Means Death session.   I worked with her a few Katsucons back on a Hamilton session and she were fun to work with and was just as fun this time. The session really helped my mood, if I didn’t have dinner reservation I probably would have gone over the session time.  For this session I attempted to shoot outside, I got a few decent shots, but it was just too windy to continue outside.  So, I went for classic styling with a modern twist, by going up to the 16th floor.  By going up to the 16th floor I could use the windows to capture the sunset and skyline while integrating some classic portraiture techniques.  On of my favorite images from the session is below.   You’ll notice in this image we tried line the reflection of the flash up with a break in the clouds to make it look like the sun.

ISO 200, Aperture F8, Shutter, 1/100s, Focal Length 18mm 

This next image is a hall shot of Life of Cosplay in here Bell outfit.  Her posing was perfect, and also showed off the book she was reading, which I quite like.  For the shot I was mixing sunlight and flash. The sunlight provided the main highlights while the flash just filled the shadows so it has a nice warm glow to the image. 

ISO 200, Aperture F8, Shutter, 1/500s, Focal Length 18mm 

This next image is of Grey and Kamala, who were a very fun couple to work with, as Utena Tenjou and Anthy Himeniya from Revolutionary Girl Utena.  I like this image because is tells a story, and hides a lot of the convention center.  I was metering to eliminate ambient light and relied on the flash only which was behind me pointed down towards the couple.  In post I cropped the image fairly tight and then enhanced the mood by darkening the shadows and adding a vignette to the image. 

ISO 200, Aperture F8, Shutter, 1/100s, Focal Length 24mm 

This final image is of LexiBee Cosplay in here regency design Aerith Gainborough from Final Fantasy VII.  It was a bit chilly in the morning but no wind, so it was reasonable to shoot outside.  I like this image because the trees provide nice framing to the cosplayer and the sky. While the city skyline in the distance provides a layer of interest.  The cosplayer was slightly backlit so I used flash to light the model, then in post I bright up the exposure of the bushes a bit more to match the exposure of the cosplayer.  I also pulled the blues up in the sky, just to bring out the clouds adding another layer of interest.

ISO 400, Aperture F14, Shutter, 1/250s, Focal Length 18mm 

Overall, the sessions went well, even though I felt like my heart wasn’t in them nor was I as prepared as much as years past.  I chalk that up to being mentally drained by my work trip right before Katsucon.  As I mentioned in the opening I just wasn’t feeling Katsucon this year, and am starting to feel as though I’m aging out of conventions. I am in my mid-forties now. Also the con didn’t seem as fun as in years past.   Katsucon 2024 is now up in the air, but I probably will not attend and will be taking a break from conventions starting after AwsomeCon 2023.  I’ll still be doing cosplay meet ups and  will be focusing more on one-on-one sessions outside of conventions.  Honestly, I love doing one-on-one session not in conjunction with a convention, because I have more creative control and the atmosphere isn’t rushed.  So, if you want to work with me and get something truly creative book me outside of convention.


Popular Posts