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Undiscovered Photography visits the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo

By Super Geek on 4/29/2014
Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo

This was Undiscovered Photography's 2nd year at Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo and the convention has changed drastically since the year previous. The convention has grown exponentially with an increase this year of 37,000 attendees, bringing the total attendance to 97,000, making it the largest convention in Canada. Calgary Expo did however suffer some growing pains.

Finding booths this year was a bit harder as they were split between 3 buildings. The influx of people made exploring and photographing Cosplay a challenge due to the spread as well as the sheer number of bodies in the buildings. Calgary Expo did everything they could do resolve these issues by adding a new 35,000 square foot tent venue. This area was used to host events like the costume contest, children's activities, and a sitting area. They also moved more things over to the Big Four building. The Big Four was host to even more booths for artists this year and also held a special signing area for guest Cosplayers like Jessica Nigri, Lindsay Elyse and Monika Lee. Ultimately we felt the space was better utilized as we got used to the layout, but it did take some adjustment in part due to weather trapping us in one building (photography equipment).

The celebrity line up was killer as they had brought in the sexiest man alive, Bruce Campbell. The other celeb's were fantastic, don't get me wrong, but Bruce has been my lifelong idol since I was a child. Hail to the King, Baby!

Though we didn't go for any interviews this year, their press manager was really interested in ensuring that members of the press were able to make the connections on site, if an opportunity arose. We are definetly going to take on some interviews next year with that level of support coming from Calgary Expo

The main area for the convention took place in the BMO building and was chocked full of merchandise, vendors, and food. This was also the area in which we found most of the Cosplay we photographed. We were blown away by the level and variety of Cosplay that Calgary Expo had drawn in.

Henchmen Props
Henchmen Props
Hyokenseisou Cosplay
Hyokenseisou Cosplay

We met the professional prop maker Henchmen Props whose work you can see to the right.

We also met the best in show for the costume contest Hyoken Seisou Cosplay (left) in her amazing Stitch!

Spartan Longshot-X
Spartan Longshot-X
Kreig Cosplay
Kreig Cosplay

We met a friend from last year who cosplayed as Vaas from Farcry 3, but this time he was in an amazing Kreig Cosplay that was super exciting to photograph.

Also, our dear friend Spartan Longshot-X was a show stopper again this year in his amazing Halo Spartan armor.

Elsewhere, we ran into a pair of She-Hulks that almost tore the building down (thank goodness someone was around to get between them!)

Danquish DENIED!
Danquish is DENIED!
Lindsay Elyse on guard
Lindsay Elyse on guard
Monica Lee - cosplayer
Monica Lee

On the last day, our friend Danquish did some photo-bombing for us.

First it was with Monika Lee...

...then he went for Lindsay Elyse's Timbits...


Danquish @ Jessica Nigri
Danquish @ Jessica Nigri

Finally, we tried to get Jessica Nigri but she was gone. That is when Danquish took the opporunity to see what it was like to have over 2 million likes on Facebook...

Check out the galleries for more of what we saw.

In response to the fantastic cosplay, for the first time in our con experience, we overheard a member of the Calgary Expo staff actually approaching the cosplayers to thank them for what they brought to the convention. He was quite gracious and thanked them for both their cosplay and for respecting the fire and safety building codes by not blocking the exits and thoroughfares when posing for shots. I know that this meant the world to the cosplayers he had managed to find, and it helped to reinforce the importance of cosplay to an amazing experience at Calgary Expo.

The few complaints that we have heard from the Cosplayers and Photographers were the inconsistency with the peace bonding/weapons check, the wrist bands, and no area for Cosplayers to cool off and recover.

The peace bonding/weapons check for some was a simple and clear process on Thursday, but starting Friday each check in location seemed to have its own standard that wasn't consistent. We would see realistic airsoft guns on the floor, but hear complaints that Nerf Guns with orange tips were being escorted back to the vehicle. On Saturday all previous peace bonded weapons had to be re-peace bonded and re-approved. Wrist bands as always are a better choice for a convention as an anti-ghosting method (aka to prevent pass sharing), but hard on cosplayers who have either full one piece body suits, or multiple changes over the weekend. Though this is a lament that bears notice, I am not sure that they could have gone a different route due the overwhelming amount of attendees. Conventions do need to protect themselves against fraudulent use of the passes they sell.

The final concern is one that more and more conventions are going to have to take into consideration. Cosplayers are a major part of the experience for many attendees, but are not granted any special treatment. Due to size of venues, insurance, fire safety and the number of cosplayers that attend, it is hard to provide them somewhere to rest, repair and recover. Empty spots along the wall are not able to be resting points at any convention we have attended for fire safety reasons but cosplayers in their often bulky or non breathable outfits need somewhere to pause. Outside of a convention is a fire storm of cameras and fans who are not ready to give the cosplayers a break even when they are partly out of costume. This concern is applicable to all conventions and is not really a failing of Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, its an adjustment that needs to be made everywhere with the explosive growth of Cosplay. Calgary Expo's staff was most often polite and patient with Cosplayers and the people photographing them, yet necessarily firm when required.

As an event, Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo is a well oiled and well managed convention that we highly recommended. If you can get tickets for the next one, I say you should, but be aware that they sell out incredibly fast.




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