I was reading an interesting article from Kotaku about Sclass a grand cosplay event held at the MGM National Harbor during Katsucon, where cosplayers and photographers did photoshoots at an upscale casino! The Sclass event apparently showcased the growing desire to move away from the crowded hallways of conventions and into more grand and exquisite venues like a casino. Because “all conventions are the same.” At least according to Kotaku.

Does that mean cosplayers are really outgrowing conventions? Not at all.

If it’s true that cosplayers only care about taking photos and partying and not giving a damn about the convention itself, then why not hold events that only cater to this?

While I respect the organizers of Sclass and thought they did a great job holding an awesome free event like this, I disagree that cosplayers are leaving the convention scene. Maybe the professional cosplayers/photographers who want to step up their photo game. But for the majority of people, conventions are here to stay and for good reason.

Sure, you could argue that conventions are all the same. I’ve been to many cons around North America and I completely agree with that. But that’s what people want. The numbers don’t lie.

We don’t even need to mention the fact that attendance numbers for conventions just keep growing and growing (and have been for years). Conventions like Colossalcon implement hotel lottery systems because the demand far exceeds the supply for rooms. Up until this year, Anime North had an attendance cap because their facilities could not handle surplus attendees. And Anime Expo had over 100,000+ attendees in 2018. So trust me, the majority of cosplayers aren’t leaving conventions anytime soon.

What about doing more events like Sclass?

To be honest, it’s not that easy to book a private venue without forking out considerable money. Even the most modest venues can charge a hefty price. This is coming from my experience being an event organizer. As I mention in this article, photography rules and regulations are such a grey area.

For example there’s a beautiful area in Toronto called the Distillery District, with a bunch of beautiful Victorian-era buildings. The area is great for photoshoots but if you plan on doing an elaborate photoshoot in the Distillery, you’ll have to pay over $200 to do so.

Shooting in city parks is a grey area; on one hand you may get away with shooting at a park without getting hassled by city staff. But on the other hand, you may be subject to a fine if you do not have a photography permit.

If you’re bringing a large group of people with elaborate photography equipment, then you’ll likely need to fork out some money for a photography permit. And for many cosplayers and photographers, that is just too much money to spend. I realized this when I tried to do a Fire Emblem group cosplay photoshoot in a city park. Not only was it difficult to find an outdoor venue that allowed us to do so without paying a hefty permit. But doing one indoors would have been as expensive.

No one wants to be liable!

It’s not just about the money because there are a lot of people in the community with deep pockets that are willing to contribute. It’s the liability that scares and deters the hell out of people.

It was interesting to see all the cosplay picnics happening in the Greater Toronto Are a few years ago. Back then, the cosplay picnic event scene was arguably overcrowded and “saturated.” You couldn’t go a month without someone hosting a cosplay picnic/gathering at a park in the GTA. Then the City of Toronto and Mississauga started cracking down on people holding cosplay events at parks without permits, shutting them down and threatening to fine anyone who didn’t have a permit.

Now the cosplay picnic scene in the GTA is dead and no longer existent. In fact, I believe my beach party event was the only cosplay event in 2018 held at a city park. No one else tried to do it! Why? Because no one wanted to pay for a permit and accept the responsibility of holding an event and being liable for damages/unforeseen circumstances.

Is it still possible to hold a photography event like Sclass?

This is just for cosplay picnics in a park, but this certainly applies for events like Sclass; imagine having to pay for an exquisite venue like the MGM and being responsible for any damages from the public that you invite. No one wants to be the person responsible for something like that. And I’m sure that’s what will kill any motivation for someone to take the initiative to hold an event like Sclass.

Now I’m not saying it’s impossible to hold a cosplay photoshoot outside of a convention. In fact, if all you want is some photos with your costume and you’re not too picky about beautiful backgrounds and setting, then there are still affordable options in your local area. For example, a place like The Mint Room offers 1 hour photoshoots at a reasonable price if you go on a weekday, with a nice setting and even props for you to use!

My friend of a friend held a cosplay photoshoot event in the media room of an apartment building. You’d think this wouldn’t make the best setting, but it turned out very well!

But even if you were to find a cheaper venue without worrying about liability, it’s still extra money coming out of your pocket. Which brings me to my point: why spend hundreds of dollars booking an expensive venue when you can just shoot for free at a convention (considering that you paid for a pass and planned to go anyway)?

In the future, I’ll make a post about cosplay photoshoot location ideas to give you guys a better picture (pun intended) on how to do shoots outside of a con.

But are we going to see more cosplay photography events at grand casinos and resorts? Probably not, because..

Conventions are here to stay, and so will the cosplay photoshoots

Unless you have really good connections or a lot of money to book an exotic venue, I feel the majority of cosplay photoshoots will still take place at conventions for the following 2 reasons:

  • It’s expensive and relatively difficult to book photoshoot locations outside of a convention
  • It’s far easier and more cost-effective to shoot at conventions

While it’s awesome that someone held an event like Sclass event during Katsucon, stuff like this will probably be the exception and not the rule. After all, why spend hundreds of dollars booking an expensive venue when you can just shoot for free at a convention (considering that you paid for a pass and planned to go anyway)?

Cosplay conventions are awesome places to shoot anyway!

Let’s emphasize how AMAZING the opportunity many cosplayers/photographers have. At most conventions, not only can you setup a photoshoot for free but they usually turn a blind eye to photographers setting up equipment in the convention building (as long as you’re not blocking the hallway). Some conventions have amazing spots to shoot (e.g. the gazebo at Katsucon/MAGFest). Although that might be changing soon as some cons are starting to charge for photography.

Conventions need cosplayers as much as cosplayers need conventions to display their work/craft and to take photos of their costume. It’s a win-win for both parties, so why would any of them leave each other? 🙂

How do you guys feel about the convention scene? Are cosplayers getting tired of conventions, or do you agree with me that they’re here to stay? Let me know in the comments.

Conventions Are Still The Best Place For Cosplay Photoshoots
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