I was among the lucky few who was able to attend the FotoCon , a relatively new Convention with the Focus on Photography, this year. The event is located in a small rural Town called Wlen in Poland and at first I was a bit skeptical when Ive gotten a mail by one of their Organizers promoting the event. An Event offering a opportunity to shoot with an international crowd in a variety of locations and for free to boost with?
Theres surely gotta be a catch right? Long Story Short: Nope!
These guys are simply enthusiasts that Love the Hobby as much as we do and hope to spread the Love even further.
Nevertheless I was still a bit skeptical If im good enough for the event and if the 700km ride would be worth the risk to end up with noone wanting to take pictures with me. Ive pondered a bit but then I decided to apply and asked my good friend Mokona_freak if she wouldnt want to tag along to split gas costs and shes always a blast to photograph. No Risk, No fun!
One thing youll have to be ready for when attending Fotocon is that this will require alot of planning from you. The Convention offers an Online System where you can send out Invites to a Cosplayer / Photographer to make Contact with the person and then its up to you to arrange the Shoot. Most people were Using the Google Equivalent to an Excel Sheet to arrange and plan everything and if this sounds like space science to you its probably not something for you.
The Organizers also offered a Location guide complete with Pictures and Videos and while its deeply appreciated to get a general overview it didnt help me too much with my planning. Im kind of a bad visualiser and have to see something in Person to decide if I can and want to take pictures there. Thats why i mostly sticked to Locations in the close vicinity like the Castle Ruins and decided to only pick one Location wich was a bit further away ( and mighty awesome! )
This brings up another very important topic: mobility. You definitely need some wheels to get around the Locations because most are a bit further away but not so much away that itd be a hassle with a car. It takes for example only 5 Minutes to reach the beautiful Castle ruins which already offer a plethrora of photography options. Add in the option to work with for example Wolfdogs,Horses or Pyrotechnicians and youve got everything you could want to make some interesting pictures.
Since I have a small car this brought up some Unique Challenges like how do I fit two Darksiders Cosplayers, an Assistant and myself into a small Opel Adam xD
Accomodation was in a Schools Sports Hall (with Wifi!) which gave it a lively, fun school trip kinda feeling to stay there and enough food to fill our growling stomachs inbetween the shoots was offered. If that isnt enough theres also a Supermarkt called Dino and a Pizzeria right around the Corner to fulfill your culinary Desires.
Before I continue to praise the Crap out of this event I want to take a slight detour and talk about a few things that I think could have been done better:
- More Fullbody Mirrors for Cosplayers
- Sanitary Solutions arent up to handling so many people. Maybe book some mobile Solutions? And PLZ PLZPLZ HOT Water ALL the time ! (Im such a pussy!)
- Communication was mostly done via Facebook. – Since many people dont have internet options for their smart phones when theyre abroad they could only check those via Wifi which required to be in School. Even then I dont check every message posted in a group with high activity. Something like a big Whiteboard would be imho the better solution to keep everyone up to Date.
- I often had problems figuring out the adress of a location. Even though the Locations were marked in Google Maps I couldnt navigate there and had to manually search for an Adress to enter into my Navigation system. A Cheat Sheet with all the Adresses would be great the next time!
These are only minor quibbles by me and arent a deal breaker. Considering that this is the first time that theyre doing this event in such a big scale its only normal that theres some minor annoyances and Itd be unfair to pick on these because the Organizers did their best to make the event as enjoyable for everyone as it could be. You could always walk up to someone from the staff and they tried to help you with the utmost care and Im glad that these guys were giving their all to make this event as fun as possible. We really felt the Love there!
Talking about Love…
I love, love, love the People Ive met during these 3 days. Everybodies been so positive and even though we often couldnt speak in our native languages it was never a hindrance to having fun. Usually theres your fair share of Con Drama but ive never experienced it throughout the Fotocon and everyone was always willing to lend a helping hand when needed. I was shooting with Czech,Dutch, Polish and Of course German Cosplayers and it really was a learning experience to shoot with so many different personalities and backgrounds.
I cant thank everybody I was able to shoot with enough!
So was the Trip worth it? Definitely! Will I come back the next time? You can bet you behind on it!