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The Countdown Begins

My favorite event of the year is 4 weeks away and I am counting it down. Yes, the countdown to Otakon 2016 begins today!

I have been attending Otakon for several years. I have never cosplayed or led a panel, but I have attended cosplay burlesque shows and the ever popular “WTF Did I Just Watch” on numerous occasions. I managed to accidentally take over a photography 101 panel a couple of years ago. My bad…

Of all of the years I have attended, this one is going to be different.

You see, I have always attended Otakon as a passive observer — spending most of my time wandering around the Dealer’s Room aimlessly. I was too lazy to carry my camera and photo equipment. I just wanted to go and just hang out. To be out of the house for 4 days surrounded by a bunch of people who share this same niche interest borrowed from a culture an ocean away is invigorating.

But last year I decided to venture a little outside of my comfort zone and actually approach people. Yes, I know. I never do that…

But as cosplayers ventured down to the ground floor in the convention center, I snagged a few and snapped a few quick shots. I got some good ones and met a group of other photographers and filmmakers and—I must admit—I got a bit of a rush.

You see, I have a bit of social anxiety. I don’t like to be the center of attention and any attention directed my way gives me the sweats something serious. I have a tough time accepting compliments and always try my hardest to deflect them. However, even from my basketball days, I know that if I am involved in something, I no longer think about how scared shitless I am being on center stage. Photography has given me a bit of a comfort blanket—and I like it. I can really get involved in the technical aspects of shooting and lighting and channel the uncomfortable feelings into something productive and almost lose myself and become someone else. My alter ego? Who knows, but I know I have the ability to turn into someone else who is creative and funny and demanding and on-point.

But that also comes with practice. When I don’t know what I am doing or having technical issues, my superhero self disappears and I become this squeaky, shivery, sweaty mess of a me…

Earlier this year, I had an awesome shoot with the Anime EX group in Baltimore and got some amazing shots! Some of the best cosplay shots I have ever captured. And that experience showed me that I actually know what I am doing when I get out of my own head and stop talking like I don’t know what I am doing. It’s okay to boast. It’s okay to be confident if you know your shit. Just don’t drink your own Kool-Aid and get giant-headed about it.

But back to Otakon…

I am very much looking forward to this event from a different perspective. I am going as a photographer. I have booked a ton of shoots over the course of the 4 days I’ll be there and I hope to meet a bunch of new people. This year is kind of bittersweet as it’ll be the last year in Baltimore. The event is moving closer to home next year in the Washington, DC area and we’ll lose amazing backdrops like the McKeldin Fountain, Federal Hill and the Inner Harbor. Kinda disappointed I took them for granted and didn’t shoot more, but they’ll be replaced by a whole new set of amazing photoshoot locations and backdrops!

My principal goal of this Otakon is to come back with all of my memory cards being full of amazing images! Nothing less will do. Although I do need to return with a PG Gundam Astray Red Frame. Hey, I gotta get something from the Dealer’s Room. In addition, I want to get some custom art for my TE2 fight stick. Something super hot with Chun Li. Maybe some new DVDs to add to my collection… But photos first!

The countdown begins! See you in 4 weeks!