Events

Salute to Supernatural Denver 2015

DenverCon 2015 Schedule

DenverCon 2015 Schedule

 

The Creation Supernatural conventions have become such a huge production that in 2015 (and by the looks of things it will be the same in 2016 too) so many more dates had been added, often in places the cons have never been held before. In some instances, the conventions would run one weekend after another.

As was the case with the November conventions in Denver and Pasadena. I was going over for Pasadena (it replaced Burbank from 2013 and 2014) so I thought that as long as I was flying all the way over there, and would more than likely have a few days before the con in Pasadena anyway, I might as well bite the bullet and do DenverCon as well. It sounded like such a wise decision in my head. Perhaps not fiscally, and definitely not emotionally or energy-wise, but it made sense in some esoteric way to me.

This blog post will be about Denver, and the next will focus on Pasadena.

The conventions had never been held in Denver, so as well as the excitement for me personally going to a place I’d never been before, there was a palpable sense of excitement that finally the “traveling circus” (as Richard Speight Jr tends to call it) was visiting a new location. The Marriot Denver Tech Center where the convention was held was small; a lot smaller than any convention venue I have been in. There were lots of winding corridors where the actors had to navigate between the photo op room, the green room, the meet and greet rooms, and the room where the panel was held. The vendors were placed out in an open atrium in the middle of the hotel, surrounded and overlooked by balconies belonging to the hotel rooms. Fans got the ingenious idea to decorate their balconies to celebrate the con and the mythology of the show, which gave the whole place an awesome – and somewhat eerie – atmosphere. My roommate and I wanted to do a “Friday People” balcony (long story) but we didn’t have time.

 

croatoan

Croatoan

 

Denver was probably the smallest convention I had done, and there’s something nice about doing the smaller cons. There will always be something exciting about the big flashy cons like Vegas, Chicago or Vancouver, but the smaller cons tend to be a bit more laid back. There’s an excitement, but not a suffocating you-may-not-last-the-weekend excitement (Vegas I’m looking at you).

 

Panel Room, Day One

Panel Room, Day One

 

One of the things I considered, but obviously not in too much detail, was how difficult it was not being able to put convention photos out after a con. I am by no means someone who gets their photos out quickly; it takes me time to travel home and go through and edit them. I don’t have a laptop, so I don’t have a way to work on them while I’m overseas. This time though, I would have to put aside a whole convention’s worth of photos on several compact flash cards to shoot a second con, then have two whole cons to edit at home.

That’s a lot of photos.

I tried to take little phone photos here and there, and upload them to Instagram whenever I found wi-fi, just as a shallow way of documenting what was going on. They weren’t great photos and I hate my phone so I felt embarrassed about doing it, but one photo of Matt Cohen at karaoke seemed to get a good reaction, so that made me happy!

 

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Matt Cohen, Karaoke

 

I’ve come to realise this year that I will probably never love shooting anything as much as I love shooting the Louden Swain Saturday Night Special (and Pasadena truly cemented that for me, but I will talk about that in the next post). I actually feel physically drained coming out of it, like I’ve expended energy just trying to take everything in. It’s using so many skills and makes me fine tune the way I pay attention and look at things and work with the light given to me. It’s movement, stillness, emotion, volume. It’s stretching lots of different skill sets; even in the editing a big part of it is deciding what photos to keep to really show what happened, and what to leave behind and I’ve become quite ruthless about it. Maybe this just means I need to move into concert photography, I have no idea. But it is definitely my favourite thing to shoot at the moment.

 

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That’s not to say I don’t enjoy shooting the other parts of the convention, because I still do and I still find them challenging every time. Whether it’s the quality of the house lights, where I’m sitting in the room, how a particular panel is going (if the guest is in a good mood or not, if the audience is engaged etc) there’s always challenges and tests. I love it though, I feel alive doing it. That may seem strange, but it’s honest.

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It may also seem strange that it’s still challenging shooting the same people, but it is. In the same way that you can hear a song more than once and have it mean something different to you each time, people change and grow and it all happens in front of and behind the camera. I’m growing as a photographer and a person, and I feel like as I do that my photography will improve. A big obstacle for me is my own self doubt but I’m challenging that little by little at each convention.

Of course there will be a time when I’ll have to do something different, and I am already doing different things a long the way. But this has made me a photographer. I call myself a photographer because of the things I’ve learned shooting these cons and how lucky I have been to find such an amazing support system there and as well as my family and friends at home.

All Hell Breaks Loose VI Melbourne and Sydney

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to attend the Australian Supernatural conventions All Hell Breaks Loose VI in both Melbourne and Sydney. It promised to be a huge affair – the last time Jensen Ackles or Jared Padalecki had attended a convention in Australia was six years ago. Unfortunately, before the convention Jared had to pull out due to exhaustion, and Hub Productions who run the con were able to bring out the wonderful Timothy Omundson in his stead.

Hub Productions aren’t as photog-friendly as other conventions; you are only able to take photographs for the first five minutes of each panel. So that hampered me in both cities, and then Sydney my seat was in the very last row! So unfortunately I was only able to get a few photographs in Melbourne. But I was happy with the few photos I could manage, and then for something different I decided to post process the majority of the photos in colour. The Plenary, where the Melbourne convention was held, is this huge majestic building with amazing lighting so it gave the photos a really interesting look – a unique mix of the very grand and the very intimate.

Timothy Omundson, AHBL6 Melbourne

Timothy Omundson, AHBL6 Melbourne

Osric Chau, AHBL6 Melbourne

Osric Chau, AHBL6 Melbourne

Mark Sheppard, AHBL6 Melbourne

Mark Sheppard, AHBL6 Melbourne

Jensen Ackles, AHBL6 Melbourne

Jensen Ackles, AHBL6 Melbourne

The hardest to capture were Matt Cohen and Richard Speight Jr, who always refuse to stay on stage during their panels.

Matt Cohen, AHBL6 Melbourne

Matt Cohen, AHBL6 Melbourne

Richard Speight Jr, AHBL6 Melbourne

Richard Speight Jr, AHBL6 Melbourne

My favourite photo of the day was probably this one of Timothy Omundson, and I went back to my usual default editing style because it just felt so moody and it was too much of an opportunity to pass up!

Timothy Omundson, AHBL6 Melbourne

Timothy Omundson, AHBL6 Melbourne

I had a wonderful time catching up with friends and as always photographing this amazing cast. This is my last Supernatural convention until (hopefully!) Vancouver in August. There is OZ Comic Con here in Melbourne next month though, so I’m hoping to get to that!

Winchester Family Reunion // Salute to Supernatural Las Vegas 2015

I’ve called this post Winchester Family Reunion because that’s exactly what this convention felt like. For the first time, Jeffrey Dean Morgan – who played the often infamous John Winchester in Seasons 1 and 2 – attended a Creation Supernatural convention. Together with Samantha Smith (Mary Winchester) the two took to the stage on Sunday with Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester) and Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester). They even posed for an awkward family photo, which given this family’s history would literally be an extremely awkward family photo.

 

Winchester Awkward Family Photo

Winchester Awkward Family Photo

 

The excitement of having a new guest on the convention card, especially given it’s meaning to the show lore, just added to the usual Vegas craziness. VegasCon (I miss calling it SinCon, why did we stop doing that?) is over an exhausting four days. On the outset, you go into it thinking “Four day convention! How cool! Why aren’t they all four days??” But by that last day after walking back and forth down that long, long, long corridor from the smoked filled casino to the convention area, you end up thinking “whose stupid idea was it to have a convention over four days?”

I have a very vivid, very horrific memory of falling asleep standing up for a few seconds in someone’s photo op line on Sunday afternoon.

But don’t get me wrong, it was an incredible weekend and I am so fortunate I was there. It felt very much like a real celebration of the show and how lucky we are to have such an amazing cast who seem to really enjoy these conventions as much as we do.

 

Gil McKinney, Karaoke

Gil McKinney, Karaoke

 

Osric Chau (dressed as Futurama's Amy) with Lauren Tom, Thursday

Osric Chau (dressed as Futurama’s Amy) with Lauren Tom, Thursday

 

Gil McKinney and Osric Chau as Loki, Friday

Gil McKinney and Osric Chau as Loki, Friday

 

Misha Collins, Saturday

Misha Collins, Saturday

 

Matt Cohen, Richard Speight Jr and Rob Benedict, Saturday

Matt Cohen, Richard Speight Jr and Rob Benedict, Saturday

 

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, Sunday

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, Sunday

 

Again, the highlight for me was definitely the Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, and I could write an entire blog about this one. It’s just refined itself over time into this incredible explosion of talent and audience engagement. It’s electric to be there and take photos of it. I always ask Chris Schmelke, Creation’s amazing photographer, if there is anything I should try to concentrate on in particular before the start of every convention and the only instruction he had before this one was “go crazy at the Saturday night show. Take photos of everything, of all of it.” Which I took to heart. So I’m going to show you some photos I took, because even though I still don’t think I quite capture what it feels like to be there, it expresses it more than I possibly could with words.

 

Matt Cohen, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special

Matt Cohen, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special

 

Gil McKinney, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special

Gil McKinney, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special

 

Jensen Ackles, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special

Jensen Ackles, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special

 

Richard Speight Jr and Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special

Richard Speight Jr and Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special

 

Billy Moran, Osric Chau and Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special

Billy Moran, Osric Chau and Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special

 

Mark Sheppard, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special

Mark Sheppard, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special

 

Jensen Ackles and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special

Jensen Ackles and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special

 

Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special

Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special

 

Rob Benedict,

Rob Benedict, Gil McKinney, Mark Sheppard, Sam Smith, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jensen Ackles, Jason Manns, Mike Borja, Stephen Norton and Matt Cohen, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special

 

People often ask me for advice if they are about to go to their first convention, and apart from the usual stay really hydrated and (try to) sleep, my number one piece of advice for anyone going to a Supernatural Creation convention this year is to go to the Louden Swain Saturday Night Special. Honestly. You won’t regret it.

Until next time, VegasCon. I’m going to sleep for a year.

 

 

 

Salute to Supernatural San Francisco 2015

The 2015 Supernatural convention circuit kicked off in January in beautiful San Francisco, California.

I’d never been to San Francisco, so as well as getting to do the convention I was excited to explore a bit for a couple of days after the convention.

Alcatraz, San Francisco

Alcatraz, San Francisco

 

Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

 

Giraffe, San Francisco Zoo

Giraffe, San Francisco Zoo

 

The conventions started out with a bang – this is what I’ll call The Big Convention Year, celebrating 10 years of Supernatural, and I think the stakes have been raised to reflect that. Creation Entertainment have invested in a huge new sound and lighting system, and the guys themselves have all been involved in shaping different aspects of the convention itself. This year, the Cabaret is being billed as the Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, which is wonderful since it encapsulates just how important Louden Swain have become to the whole convention. It really would not be the same without them, or without Richard Speight Jr running the show as the Host (or Captain of the Ship, if you prefer).

My friend I was attending the convention with hadn’t seen a Creation event for over a year, so I was excited for her to see how much of a huge production it’s become.

 

Host Richard Speight Jr kicks off SFCon 2015

Host Richard Speight Jr kicks off SFCon 2015

 

Felicia Day, Friday SFCon 2015

Felicia Day, Friday SFCon 2015

 

Osric Chau, Friday SFCon 2015

Osric Chau, Friday SFCon 2015

 

Matt and Richard’s karaoke party theme for 2015 is “Cult Classics”, which sounded difficult at first, but is actually quite a broad well to draw from! Loads of attendees dressed up for the karaoke, which is a good sign for the rest of the year!

 

Photography by Christopher Schmelke

Photography by Christopher Schmelke

 

Sebastian Roche, Karaoke SFCon 2015

Sebastian Roche, Karaoke SFCon 2015

 

Richard Speight Jr, Karaoke SFCon 2015

Richard Speight Jr, Karaoke SFCon 2015

 

Gil McKinney and Rob Benedict, Karaoke SFCon 2015

Gil McKinney and Rob Benedict, Karaoke SFCon 2015

 

My last blog post was about how the different parts of the cons have very different feels and so I sort of approach shooting them differently. However, as I was editing my photos for SFCon, I noticed that this particular convention kind of tore up that rule book. The karaoke and the “cabaret” were the same, however the panels also had this very moody, high key lighting. It was most noticeable when the guests would walk to either side of the stage, they would be thrown into this high-key side-lighting that gave everything a very dramatic feel.

 

Rob Benedict, Misha Collins and Mark Sheppard, SFCon 2015

(l-r) Rob Benedict, Stephen Norton, Misha Collins, Mark Sheppard and Mike Borja, SFCon 2015

 

Mark Sheppard, SFCon 2015

Mark Sheppard, SFCon 2015

 

Jensen Ackles, SFCon 2015

Jensen Ackles, SFCon 2015

 

The Louden Swain Saturday Night Special / Cabaret is still the highlight of the convention for me. It’s difficult to describe exactly what it’s like unless you’re there to experience it, and I urge anyone who is thinking of going to the SPN cons this year to go to the Saturday concert. The guys put their heart and soul into the whole weekend, but Saturday night just feels a little bit more special, like the emotion is just that much higher.

 

Osric Chau, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special 2015

Osric Chau, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special SFCon 2015

 

Christopher Schmelke, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, SFCon 2015

Christopher Schmelke, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, SFCon 2015

 

Rob Benedict and Mark Sheppard, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, SFCon 2015

Rob Benedict and Mark Sheppard, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, SFCon 2015

 

Mike Borja and Billy Moran, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, SFCon 2015

Mike Borja and Billy Moran, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, SFCon 2015

 

Stephen Norton, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, SFCon2015

Stephen Norton, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, SFCon2015

 

Gil McKinney, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, SFCon 2015

Gil McKinney, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, SFCon 2015

 

Matt Cohen, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, SFCon 2015

Matt Cohen, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, SFCon 2015

 

Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, SFCon 2015

Rob Benedict, Louden Swain Saturday Night Special, SFCon 2015

 

The fact that this incredible band, that plays tirelessly all weekend as the houseband, is still able to put on a concert for us in the middle of it all is amazing to me and I cannot express enough how much I love it. If you’re a fan of these guys, and a fan of good music, please go and see this!

The panels were the usual heady mix of earnestness and hilarity, and it seems as though every time there is a convention there are more and more new (and younger!) people attending. I don’t think I’ll ever get over how adorable it is to hear someone get overcome when it’s their turn to ask a question at the microphone during a panel. I don’t blame them – I wouldn’t get up to ask a question, and look how many I’ve been to!

If SFCon 2015 was a sign of things to come for the rest of the convention year, we are all incredibly lucky! Here’s to 2015!

 

Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, SFCon 2015

Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, SFCon 2015

 

Misha Collins, SFCon 2015

Misha Collins, SFCon 2015

 

Salute to Supernatural Vancouver, 2014

It sounds incredibly cliche but I can’t believe how fast this year is going. I just got back from VanCon, the annual mecca pilgrimage of Supernatural conventions, held every August in lovely Vancouver B.C.

August. That’s four months left of the year.

VanCon has a special reputation amongst SPN Con-goers because it’s where Supernatural is actually filmed. It’s usually at the height of filming, so intrepid fans go searching for – and oftentimes find – filming locations. Lots of production crew pop in to view some of the convention panels to see what all the hub is about. The actors all seem buzzed about the show and excited to (not) talk about it. The actors previously on the show seem to love being back where it all happened. Every con seems to have a definite individual “vibe” to it and VanCon is no exception.

This year was different too, in a sad way, because it was the last year VanCon was being held at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre. The con has apparently outgrown the hotel, and is moving to the Vancouver Convention Centre next year, which is exciting but it’s hard not to think that it will lose the special warmth and intimacy “The Wall” had. And the courtyard with the fountain and the fairy lights in the trees at night? I will miss that tiny slice of peace in amongst all the activity more than I can say.

I have spent many a time lining up in this hallway

I have spent many a time lining up in this concourse with hundreds of other people.

Because of this, everything had a finality about it that is hard to put into words. I remember walking down into the very bottom part of the hotel to see the panel room on the Monday after the convention, and the stage was being dismantled and the chairs were stacked up. It was silent like a tomb. I took a few photos, but it felt like an intrusion even though I’d just spent the better part of the weekend in there taking a thousand photos. I’m not sure if that makes sense but that’s what it felt like.

The Pavillion Ballroom

The Pavillion Ballroom – Our “Panel Room”

The con itself was wonderful. It was the usual frenetic mixture of panels, photo ops, autographs, meet and greets and catching up with friends. Misha Collins held a special dinner cruise on the Friday night, and I was lucky enough to go. I found myself walking a tightrope between wanting pictures and not wanting to stick a camera in his face. You think I’d be used to it by now.

Cameraception

Cameraception

The cruise was not only a great chance to spend time with Misha, but also to see more of Vancouver, a city that is too beautiful to describe.

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The view from the cruise

Another highlight for me was the Saturday cabaret. Along with Louden Swain performing, we were also treated to songs from cast members Osric Chau and Gil McKinney. Then everyone came on stage to sing a rousing rendition of The Weight (Take A Load Off Fanny). It was so much fun and such a dynamic opportunity to take photos.

L to R: Stephen Norton, Rob Benedict and Mike Borja of Louden Swain

L to R: Stephen Norton, Rob Benedict and Mike Borja of Louden Swain

Osric Chau

Osric Chau

Gil McKinney

Gil McKinney

Misha Collins

Misha Collins

I can’t say enough good things about the addition of Richard Speight Jr as the host and Louden Swain as House Band “Elastic Waste Band”.  They help keep the mood lifted between panels and I can’t imagine them not being part of a convention now.

I’ve also noticed that the addition of the band on stage really seems to bring the panels to life, and this is really noticeable for me in J2’s Sunday panel. Jensen Ackles especially seems to light up having the music as a kind of safety net, and sometimes – sometimes – you can catch him with his guard down a little bit.

Jensen Ackles beaming at Rob after the band introduces J2

Jensen Ackles beaming at Rob Benedict after the band introduces J2

I’ve only just finished editing all my photos from the weekend, and these ones for my blog I have done in a matte/crushed black style, but I’m unsure whether or not I will use that for all the photos when I put them on my site.

I find myself constantly drawn to black and white and I know I shouldn’t use it all the time. I just find that it strips everything away – unrealistic colours, unrelenting stage lighting – all of it is gone and what’s left are the people and what makes them imperfectly perfect to me.