MAGFest 2016 – After Action Report

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MagFest was a unique event for me as being my first Out-of-State / East Coast convention.  Originally, I had to transfer a flight meant for the defunct AkibaExpo 2015 (my first non-starter convention) and tried for KatsuCon.  I could not square the timing with work so after consulting with Genesis Cosplay/ PaiXingCai Cosplay as well as Eurobeat Kasumi Photography, instead moved my flight a week later to MagFest.  As it turned out, this would be the best convention experience I’ve had for years.

MAGFest (Mid-Atlantic Gaming FESTival) is a Videogame Festival (though I will still refer to it as a convention) held at the Gaylord Resort in Maryland.  Many of you will think of that location as KatsuCon since both are held there.  This year, the conventions were back to back so I was worried there would be even fewer cosplayers.  While I’m glad I was wrong, I’d still have lots to do since it’s was video game event.  There were literally rooms filled with games from arcade boxes to consoles to PCs and board games.  For me, these definitely a good reason to go.

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There were many live events at the convention too.  At any given time, there are intense video game tournaments, board games, and livestreams going on for people to watch and even participate in.  And with this being a major gaming con, you can see some of your favorite video games stars.  From voice actors like Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica Reboot) and Ashley Burch (Borderlands) to game creators such as Kenji Inafune (MegaMan / Rock Man series) to YouTube stars like James Portnow and Daniel Floyd (Extra Credits on YouTube) and James Rolfe (Angry Video Game Nerd).  There were also plenty of video game music performances such as brentalfloss and Ninja Sex Party.  All in all, if you want to celebrate video game culture, this was definitely the place to be.  I was only sad that I missed many of these performances as it really was hard to choose which to go to and many of these are not blocked off like how I am used to like at SDCC or WonderCon.

Of course the biggest question people asked me was whether or not I would have picked Katsu or MAGFest if work was not a factor.  The truth is that I do not know.  However with hindsight being 20/20, I can see how things would have happened.  Many would comment about the high number of superb cosplays at Katsu, but with the freezing temperatures and the sheer number of people in the building, I would not have been able to get the shots I wanted.  I’ve never been good with cramped spaces and I hate shooting when people are in the background (unless it was series appropriate).  Truth is as the years gone on, my backgrounds are just as important as the cosplayer/model in the shot to me.  And even just seeing the photos from Kastu while I was at work (fire alarm not withstanding), I am very much glad I missed out on Katsu.  And now that I experienced MAGFest, it might be my go-to con between the two….if I had a choice of course.

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On a personal note, despite having to Uber in from a motel miles away and having fewer cosplayers to shoot, this was the least boring and most fun convention I’ve had in terms of shoots alone.  After 8 years of being a photographer in NorCal, I am forced to always act like the Freaking New Guy (FNG) instead of being my true self.  At MAGFest, I could be just as dopey / serious / professional / silly as I would like without people judging me too harshly.  It was a fresh start for me and something I hope to repeat in future events.  I might have been to new guy in town but at least they treated me fairly.  And I thank everyone involved in making this happen.

Star! Star! Star! Star! Star! – A well-oiled machine of a convention that ran all night long.

Star! Star! Star! Star! Star! + Star! – So…Little….DRAMA!!!!!  AND I LOVE THAT!

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~ by BlizzardTerrak on April 11, 2016.

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