Yesterday I finally uploaded the random photos on my phone from Costume College…which means it’s time for recap posts! I’ll start here with a post about the convention itself, and then follow up later with more on the photo shoots I did and on hall photos.
Costume College takes place every year in the Los Angeles suburbs during the last week of July. My trip started with an early morning at BWI airport on Wednesday. For the flight to LAX, I wore a Star Wars skirt and came prepared with tea.
It had been raining all week in the DC area, so I was looking forward to a bit of California sun to replace these grey skies.
I went to Costume College again back in July of this year. But this time, I decided to try something new and book photo shoots throughout the weekend. I had never done much formal convention shooting before without Mike there. I usually stick to hall shots. However, I was feeling more confident with our newer camera (we got a Nikon D7500 last fall), so I decided to give it a go. I ended up scheduling seven 20-30 minute sessions throughout the weekend, in addition to shooting meetups and doing a bunch of extra impromptu shoots. It was a learning process throughout, but I’m quite happy with the photos I produced.
One of the biggest challenges of the weekend was finding good locations. Costume College takes place at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, California. The hotel is a pretty nice place for a convention, but it’s not really laid out inside for photos. This isn’t a problem if you shoot outside, but, as luck would have it, it was extremely hot the weekend of Costume College. It was about 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit each day. So although I did do some photos outside, I also wanted to have indoor locations so we could stay out of the heat for at least part of each session. The Marriott lobby was not exactly easy to work with in this regard. However, I found a few solutions.
Perhaps my favorite indoor shot is this one. I was working with Vivien of Fresh Frippery, who made an amazing Star Wars First Order/vintage mashup costume. This is the final shot.
Earlier this summer, Maggie and I wanted to host a picnic on the grounds of a local house museum, Montpelier Mansion. However, much like the Victoria Day Party a couple weeks previous, we were rained out. So instead, we switched to having a party in the function room of Janine’s apartment building. (Thank you so much, Janine!) Despite the weather and the last minute location change, we had a great turnout. It was a lovely afternoon of snacking and socializing. I especially appreciated the opportunity to hang out with several people I had not seen in quite a while. Thank you to everyone who came!
Before it started raining, we were able to get a group photo on the outdoor patio. The top row from left to right is Marianne, Mike, me, Britney, and Britney’s husband. The middle row is Terry, Janine, Kristen, Carolyn, and Glynnis. The front row is Nastassia, Kenna, Maggie, and Chelsea (with her daughter).
Back in May of this year, Carolyn hosted a party in honor of Victoria Day. It was originally intended to be a picnic, but a week straight of rain nixed those plans. Instead, Carolyn welcomed us into her lovely home that she and her husband rent, a restored early 20th century town house in Washington, DC. Carolyn invited guests to wear costumes from any era during Queen Victoria’s lifetime, which led to a wonderful variety of ensembles.
I’m pretty pleased with this group photo, because I was able to direct everyone to fit inside a narrow space. I wanted to get the group to face the windows to maximize light, but that limited the area we had to work with.
On the day after the Governor’s Palace Garden Party, Mike and I hosted a spring photo shoot in the Williamsburg historic district. We weren’t sure how the weather was going to be or how the flowers were going to look, so we kept it to a small group of people who were already staying the weekend or lived nearby. Thankfully, the conditions worked out great for photos, and we now know enough to host a larger gathering in the future.
Mike and I scouted three main locations, all of which had abundant spring flowers and/or greenery. The last time we visited Colonial Williamsburg (in December), we had gone behind a number of the houses to see the Christmas wreaths and holiday decorations back there. As part of that, we learned about some of the gardens that are set back from Duke of Gloucester Street. We picked a few that were walking distance from each other for our shoot. The weather was slightly overcast (it had threatened rain, but happily that held off), so the light was nicely diffuse. It turned out to be the perfect setting for costumes featuring bright colors.
We started in an area with a number of boxwood hedges. Mike and I arrived early to test things out.
In early May, Mike and I had the opportunity to attend a new (to us) event at Colonial Williamsburg, Mr. Jefferson’s Palace Garden Party. This was an evening reception held on the grounds of the Governor’s Palace. We started with mingling and hors d’oeuvres, followed by some dancing and entertainments in the garden. Then we were treated to a concert by Betty Buckley, whose credits include originating Martha Jefferson in 1776 and Grizabella in Cats on Broadway. The evening ended with a fireworks show.
I wore a yellow Italian gown that I had first made in 2015, but had not brought back out in a while. I paired it with a collet necklace and matching rhinestone earrings from my Etsy shop.
While we were waiting for the doors to open, we watched a procession of carriages pull up to the Governor’s Palace gates. Mike went over to take photos, and was lucky enough to get a picture of Betty Buckley (in the green waistcoat and sunglasses) as she arrived.
We went to the Fort Frederick Market Fair at the end of April. Last year, it was brutally hot. Thankfully, this year the weather was much more pleasant. There was some chance of rain, but it held off the entire time we were there.
Mike and I began the day by taking a few photos in the shadow of the fort. I wore a printed linen jacket that I made several years ago, but had not brought out to an event in a while. I accessorized with a necklace and earrings from my Etsy shop.
In addition to our many Catwoman photo shoots at PAX East, we also did pictures of a few other costumes. On Friday, Mike wore his Garfield the Deals Warlock cosplay again, so I got photos of that. Then on Saturday we had the pleasure of shooting with our friend Liz of Goodbye Midnight Cosplay in her Witcher/Star Wars mashup. Finally on Sunday we reprised our My Little Bruins costumes.
We were in a bit of a rush on Friday, so I did not get a lot of photos of Mike in his Garfield the Deals Warlock. (Garfield is a character in The Adventure Zone podcast.) I was also in the process of learning how to use our new camera. Despite these logistical challenges, I’m quite happy with how the photos came out.
The faces Mike makes!
At PAX East this year, I did something I’ve always wanted to do, which is cosplay Catwoman for multiple days of a con. I have so many Catwoman costumes that I can wear several distinct looks back-to-back, which allows me to highlight the many facets of the character. Catwoman was created over 75 years ago, and I love exploring her rich history.
For this con, I chose “Knightmare” Catwoman for Thursday, DC Bombshells Catwoman for Friday, and Jim Balent-style Catwoman for Saturday. These are three very different takes on the character, and I love cosplaying each of them.
The “Knightmare” Catwoman design is from the “Rules of Engagement” arc in the Batman comic, written by Tom King and drawn by Joelle Jones. I whipped this cosplay up quickly for a photo shoot earlier in the year, but this was my first time wearing it to a con. It’s one of my more practical costumes!
We mostly shot in a small area with large windows on the second floor of the convention center. The textured concrete wall in this photo is one of our favorite spots, as you’ll notice from our pictures throughout the weekend. There are not that many great backgrounds at the BCEC, so we’re usually shooting here or in front of the many plate-glass windows.
PAX East is probably the least cosplay-heavy convention of those that we go to regularly. With the exception of Overwatch and League of Legends cosplay, it’s a bit of a mixed bag as to what you’ll find. That being said, the cosplay you do see is great. Plus, with all the windows throughout the BCEC, there’s a decent chance of getting good hall photos.
This year we saw few cosplayers on Thursday and Sunday, but a bunch on Friday and Saturday. On to the photos!
The only hall photo we took on Thursday was of this awesome Aloy by Fenix Fatalist Cosplay.
Daisy as Raven. Well done on the makeup!
What a cute Poe Dameron/BB-8 cosplay! Featuring Jason.