DragonCon 2019

Athel Artistry : Sansa Stark Coutour

One of the largest conventions on the East Coast can be found down south in the hottest city Atlanta. I'm talking about DragonCon, where the nerds gather to drink, meet celebrities, cosplay some of the most obscure things, and still have people know what you are! DragonCon is a melting pot of beer cheese dip nerd community. If you like partying, amazing cosplay meetups, shockingly great places for photoshoots within the downtown area, and hate sleep, then  DragonCon is definitely for you.

I love this convention it just has so much to offer, but can also have its own challenges at the same time. Crowds being the number one for us photographers, and sharing locations that are very popular. One of these locations being Harder Ivy Park which is right outside one of the main host hotels. This is a hot spot for cosplay meetups and will always have cosplayers around. So if you're a newer cosplay photographer that is wanting to dip your toes in, this is a great area for some hall shots. 

I had one of my photoshoots in this area with the wonderful The Vhenix and in  Yennifer. She also bought a composite which turned out amazing, but you guys will have to check out the before and after gallery because I had her doing crunches on a ledge to get the right shot. It worked out perfectly. 

I also got to shoot the wonderful Kyle who you all might know as World of Gwendana who is a fantastic cosplay photographer. It was wild to be able to shoot a fellow costog, and also watching his fitness journey to get to this point on his IG stories. I'm happy I was able to be apart of it, and I'm so pleased with how the photos turn out. 

This DragonCon I believe has been my fourth one, and I've walked all over Downtown Atlanta. However, apparently I didn't walk far enough, because just down the road from one of the main host hotels are two beautiful churches. Now, I've seen these churches in other cosplay photographers work, but I never knew where they were. Well, this year I found them, and I used them a lot. The first one being the red church with my friend Malicious Machination's Strahd cosplay, and the more stone church that I shot the wonderful Jai Kayee.

 I got to shoot my roommate who made her Strahd cosplay the week before DragonCon and it came out awesome! I've never seen this character be cosplayed before so I was all about it. I would love to shoot more DND characters whether they're original or based off one of the books. I think it would be really cool. 

Now Jai is freaking amazing and we absolutely hit it off right out of the gate. Come to find out we're both goblin people and meme lords and our friendship was instant. Her Gannon was also amazing and her cape was freaking stunning. I'm glad we had found the church because I really wanted to give her shoot a castle-y vibe to it as much as I could while being downtown Atlanta, and I think we pulled it off. 

One thing I wanted to try and practice while at DragonCon was also couples pictures. It's not every day I get to shoot couples or shipy shoots so I was all in when SirensCallCo told me about her Kassandra ship.I wanted to do some quite moment shots and some over the head in the grass shots that ultimately turned into some of my favorite images in the set. I later came to find out that I was Siren's first cosplay photographer and  professional shoot. Which let me tell you guys is a huge compliment to me. It tells me that you like my work enough and trust my work enough to book me for the first time and I'm so grateful for that. 

 So maybe a block away from one of the host hotels is a parking garage that I use all of the freaking time. I just love the texture of the building in the background, and it gives such great framing opportunities. Plus don't even get me started with when the golden hour strikes as it did during my Borderlands 3 shoot with the wonderful Ginoza Costuming and Goldvester Cosplay. Which by the way was fantastic! Even though we had a little mishap with Goldvesters pauldron which kept wanting to fall off. We made it work though! I just had a few helping hands!

I also had a great shoot with xKira Kelly and her fem Nero from Devil May Cry. Now the wings that you're seeing are absolutely insane. These things stretch out to about 9ft, and they're motorized. Needless to say, they were impressive.

One of the magical places that I shoot at DragonCon is this curved stairs case. They're in a really weird location outside but they're wonderful. Also, you can get some really cool lighting on the stairs too which if you can find cool lighting then freaking use it. There was this streak of light that was cast on the wall behind the stairs and you can bet your booty I used it. The two portraits that I utilized it with are hands down some of my favorite photos from DragonCon. One of the only downsides to the stairs, however, is that sometimes you can easily be kicked out of the location. They're technically on non-convention property, but if you can get to them they can be worth it. Also, since they're outside there might be an oder at the bottom of the stairs because there is a fairly large homeless population in Atlanta and you will see them around the downtown area. Just be aware and don't set your bag down anywhere. 

There were two cosplayers I shot on the stairs this year. One being Starbucks Cosplay in her Katniss Everdeen dress which was the same dress that was worn at the Marriot that we were shooting at. We sadly weren't able to make the same exact scene that she wore it, but it was still pretty cool to be in the same location. 

Secondly, we had the wonderful KnitFreak cosplay who I have worked with multiple times and is also a huge critter like myself. This location was a perfect balance of dark and bright for her cosplay and character. Also, again like I mention that cast light portrait is probably my favorite one hands down.  

Now some of you all might know, but I'm a huge freaking  Blade Runner fan. Whenever I get the chance to photograph a cosplay from those movies I'm always a happy bean. So when Jera Cosplay told me she was planning on cosplaying Pris  I was really excited to give her that neon cyberpunk vibe. We also recreated some of the artwork from the movie as a composite. 

There's a type of cosplays that I don't get to shoot very often that I would like to change next year. Which is Bunny suit cosplays. DragonCon is notorious for the Bunny Hutch on Thursday night, and I would absolutely love to photograph more of these cosplays. Luckily I was able to photograph the lovely Starbucks Cosplay again in her Bunny Mercy, which was so freaking cute. Luckily the room I had at the Marriot was super spacious and even had a couch and table for us to use. I wanted to do something a little different than the same location shoots for this Bunny shoot, and I absolutely loved it. 

I have another secret location I like to take cosplayers. Around one of the hotels in the back, you can find this little garden area with these interesting white concrete wall textures. I love this area because it's a great balance of nature but also possible castle background. This is why I thought it would be a great place to shoot LadyKitz Cosplay and Lulubee Cosplay in their battle Alice in Wonderland costumes. 

Right after their shoot I also took NoSpaceship back in my little corner. Now I have been watching NoSpaceship build his Inferno Armor for months on Twitch, and finally being able to see it in person and getting to photograph it finally is one of the best feelings. Because it's like I've been apart of the journey, seeing the blood sweat and tears, and I get to help close the chapter with a photoshoot and immortalize that journey for him, and for any of the cosplayers I get to photograph. 

Sailor Jupiter: Moon Alchemist Cosplay

Dr. Alphys : Lady Raegun

The nice thing about conventions is that you end up running into friends, however, you never know if you're going to run into them again. That's what happened to my friends CowButtCrunchies. So, of course, I was able to get just a couple of shots of them in their new Good Omens cosplay. There's one thing that I have noticed this year which is a surge of more book cosplays, and I'm kind of all about it.    

Speaking of book cosplays I shot KnitFreak Cospaly again but instead she was in Baghra which is from a book series in Grishaverse which has gotten super popular. I think it's really cool that more creatives are coming up with their own designs for book characters. I would honestly love to see more.

During this DragonCon I really wanted to play with perspective angles and having one person blurred while the other is in focus. I wanted to try some of this out with my shoot with Red Fish Blue Fish Cosplay and their Street Fighter cosplays. I thought it would go really well with the one on one fighting theme, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. I also wanted to play a little more in my favorite garage and the framing. This shoot was a lot of fun and I love the firey effects I was able to add. 

Silk : Rose Jarmon

Tank Girl : Monster Moose Cosplay 

Sometimes with golden hour shoots the light disappears almost instantly behind the downtown buildings. However, if you are innovative enough and willing to put in the work, your normal street light can work as your Key light. This is what I did for my Zelda shoot with CosplayKat and QuinnJob Cosplay. Our natural light was being blocked, luckily the street lights turned on and we were able to work with it. 

This year there was an absolute surge in Critical Role cosplays, and I, by all means, am not complaining. The reason for this though was mainly for the Colorado crew that I was super excited to work with and hang out with for two Critical Role group shoots. This year I really wanted to try my hand at more group shoots and this was some great practice. Jessolaurusrex, Ginny Di, Deussolaris Cosplay, and FlashFletch were all freaking amazing. Our Mighty Nine group shoot was very much the body paint crew, which I thought was pretty funny. We also did a Vox Machina group down in the Olympic park which was perfect and beautiful. It's a little bit of a walk, but honestly, the location is worth it. 

Speaking of groups I also had a ladies of Marvel group with a bunch of lovely ladies. Trying to pose four ladies and making it look interesting can be tricky especially when there are limited options, but one of the tricks I try and keep in mind is stacking heights. If you have really tall people then maybe have them crouching or doing an action pose bring them down to the others levels. Also, make sure the group is even as far as composition. We don't want the image to look like an ATnT commercial and raising the bar. 

Jester: Ginny Di, Fjord: Jessolaurusrex, Molly: Deussolaris Cosplay

The Gentleman : Flashfletch33, Ruby of the Sea: Jessolaurusrex

Captain Marvel: Unladylike Cosplay, Valkyrie: Cutiepiesensei, Shuri: Akakioga, Scarlet Witch: xkirakelly

There was one event that happened during DragonCon weekend in the Critical Role community, which was the Vox Machina wedding! Happily, they did release Vex's Wedding dress along with Percy's suite and cosplayers were already making them. Two of those crazy cosplayers were Melvinopolis and Sudanrobladeworks. I took these two lovelies to a spot I've always heard about but was never able to find or shoot at, and let me just say this place was PERFECT. 

Since I was able to watch the wedding episode before we had the photoshoot I immediately knew what to do for a beach destination wedding. Luckily the Sariten pool had a few palm trees and exotic flora that we could make it work! I was also really excited to do this shoot because I absolutely love couples photoshoots whether they be real couples or fictional couples. So this was great practice for doing more wedding portraits shots and I love them.