Fanime 2016 After Action Report – Part 2

•June 15, 2016 • Leave a Comment

In terms of my photography, Fanime was not a complete Charlie Foxtrot like last year was, but it was a below average year overall.  It would be easy for me to blame it on my gear (I had just moved to Full Frame) or because of the hotter temperatures or because of the convention organizers (see Part 1).  But I have to be objective and blame one part of me that is going to stop: Overbooking.


In the past, overbooking myself because that way I would always be kept busy.  Anytime one person cancels, either the next person gets an earlier shoot or I would head to the convention center.  Unfortunately times have changed and it is getting harder and harder for me to both find a good location and find people to shoot with.  I had many cancellations and had to rush to the next person in order to get shoots done, which made my overall quality suffer in my opinion.  In 2014, I could shoot from 10 AM to 2 AM.  Now, I’m huffing and puffing at 10 PM.  It wasn’t like that for MAGFest where I shot till 1 AM, and that was in a different time zone AND with completely new people.

Fanime 2016 has made it official:

Shoots will be unplanned during the day except for non-convention safe cosplay and for priority cosplay (KOS-MOS, Ghost in the Shell, Mass Effect).

Hopefully this works out in the long run…
Guess I’ll find out at AX 2016….








Fanime 2016 After Action Report – Part 1

•June 10, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Fanime 2016 After Action Report.


After a rather large disaster at 2015 involving convention drama, I went into 2016 hoping the drama part was burnt out of me.  Sadly, this was not the case.  While many of the problems that plagued me involved the convention itself, I will have to say that the problems I’ve had were mostly directly related to me an my status in the community.


For this report, I’ll try to keep it short:

I had reserved the Fairmont San Jose Hotel during the early Fanime Hotel Reservation Block and got a 2-bed room.  When I arrived early Thursday morning, it had been changed to a 1-bed King room without my authorization and without notification.  I showed the staff the exact emails I received and managed to get a small discount along with a Rollaway bed.  Good thing I had arrived early because later that same day, I heard reports on my Social Media and in person that the Fairmont had actually overbooked.  Now they were sending people to the Fairview which was 5 miles away.  Few people had emails sent out on Thurday, but by then many people were in transit and unable to rearrange things like airport shuttles.  I have not gotten a straight answer about the situation from the Fairmont or CMR Housing (the company responsible for Fanime Housing Block), but since all the reports were focused on the Fairmont, I have to assume the Fairmont was the guilty party.

#linecon was definitely back and in force during a very hot weekend.  At first it seems like they might actually pull it off, but the machines and staff started to break down early Thursday and the line formed around the convention center and the Marriott Hotel.  On Friday, the lines still extended to the “Photographer’s Corner” of the convention center.  While I don’t use that area of the con for photos, it did limit the number of locations I had available.  And as usual, rovers were highly inconsistent in terms of how their Weapons Policy / Prop Policy was enforced as once again “Sailor Moon had to have her wand checked” (an old joke, but still relevant in 2016).  And for many events that had long lines, not enough staff were on hand to assist such as the famed “Hentai night” being somewhat delayed.  The one good news was the success of the Swap Meet since my roommate was a seller.

FanimeCon 2016 management definitely took several steps back in terms of organization and enjoyment.  While it was understandable to implement both badge checks at the main entrance of the con center as well as the need for badges for room reservations, the actual execution and timing of these announcements were either handled late or not at all.  The overall mood of the attendees were to just avoid the con center and just use the nearby areas for shoots, hanging out, and parties.  Sadly, the con is becoming just a party con with few mentions on Special Guests or Panels.  Many changes need to be done if they want to remain the king or NorCal Conventions.  (Personally, I’m rooting for KrakenCon.)

So with all the negativity, did I, personally, have fun?  The answer is both yes and no…but in hind sight, I think the con was more a personal failure than the con.  I’ll elaborate in my next report.

Con Rating: 1 (Definitely a downgrade from recent history)

Fun Factor: TBD


Reference to Fairmont San Jose:

(probably many others on the Forums)

MAGFest 2016 – After Action Report

•April 11, 2016 • Leave a Comment


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.



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.


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!


Animation on Display 2016 – After Action Report

•March 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment


Apologies for the tardiness of the report as MagFest 2016 the weekend after really knocked the wind out of me (but more on that later).



Animation on Display is one of the most recognizable San Francisco-based animation-based conventions left in the Bay Area.  Starting as “Anime Overdose” several groups later combined to form AoD around the time it moved to San Francisco’s Japantown in 2010.  In 2014, the convention moved to the Hyatt SFO in Burlingame, which gave it some breathing room while maintaining its close proximity to their home city.  For 2016, the convention moved to Santa Clara Convention Center, the former homes of both Fanime and later Japan Expo USA.

I must admit I was not a fan of the move since it was much further out and there were fewer food options in the area than at the Hyatt.  The location is somewhat remote as it is near Great America and the new Levi’s Stadium, so it is quite the trek on Public Transit or even for parking.  For some reason the convention-rate hotels were located at the Biltmore Hotel & Suites which is several miles away instead of the nearby Hilton and Hyatt.  Apparently this is because the convention center was actually triple-booked by AoD, a body building symposium, and a large Kindergarten through Adult Dance Event that took the majority of the convention center, leaving AoD with the 2nd floor area and a small corner of the center.  That, along with the time conflicts with Valentine’s Day, the Deadpool movie (kidding, though I did find it funny), KatsuCon in Maryland, and Galifrey 1 in Los Angeles lead to a feeling of a diminished turnout.


Despite these obstacles, AoD still managed to bring a lot of good to those who got badges.  Those at the con seem to manage to enjoy the various performances of Ti@mi, Hello Musume, and especially the huge Lotus Juice performance on Saturday Night helped bring people to the convention.  Special guests such as Yuu Asakawa (Rider/Medusa from Fate/ Stay Night as well as Priss Asagiri from Bubblegum Crisis) and Hsuna Hasehura (Spice and Wolf) along with Western ones like Adam Harrington (Walking Dead / League of Legends) were in attendance.  While the Exhibitors brought the usual suspects for sale, there were a lot of Artists who brought some unique wares.  The convention had limited space, but at least they used it well, having the panels, autographs, and the Tea Time Cafe upstairs while the mini stage, main stage, video game room, and Exhibit Hall/Artist Alley in the first floor area.  Despite being cut in half, the con managed to get along ok with the non-AoD attendees as there were clear lines of separating between AoD and everywhere else.

Overall, it wasn’t the best showing and there were lots of room from improvement, but I felt that it was mostly a logistical challenge to get a time and place at all within an area that it was still accessible enough.  At least it wasn’t the San Mateo Events Center (also referred to as the “Anime Convention Graveyard”).  Still, better timing to avoid larger competition or being triple-booked as well as more activities on Sunday would be welcome for next year.  This would apply whether or not the convention remains in Santa Clara or moves back to the SFO area.


:star: :star: :star-half: – Convention was run well, but the timing was rather poor.

:star: :star: :star-half:  – Due to extenuating circumstances, I’m on the fence as to whether it was worth going.

2015 – A Year in Review (Part 2)

•December 21, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Previously on BlizzardTerrak Photography:

So, I’m no longer trusted in NorCal.  And I have contemplated quitting after 7 years.

Yet despite this, I still realize that I still can’t afford to end this yet.  I still need to find a path to take in this charlie foxtrot of a world.  So, I can’t go back to who I was, but I can appreciate what I have right now.  And I can define myself by what I am:


Everything else is negotiable.


Alright, so last week, I had to vent my frustrations.  After several days in a Vulcan monastery, I think I can now look forward to the best of 2015.  While they didn’t outweigh the bad of 2015, they managed to at least try to do the impossible.  And that at least makes these conventions mighty.



“Great shot, kid! That was one in a million!”

Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope

The Little Convention that Could

KrakenCon Fall 2015



A convention on an aircraft carrier…especially a WW2 museum ship located at the far end of Nowhere.  The idea sounds cool, but anyone who’s ever been on a US Navy ship (serving on one, visiting museum ships, or enjoying Fleet Week) knows that they are crowded and hard to move around in.  The escalator is so old, the ship’s volunteer staff could only use it for those needing mobility assistance (handicap only, high heels and bulky armor do not count) and there were parts of the ship that were off-limits for safety reasons.  Still, they brought food in, had a serviceable shuttle service, and managed to pull of a decent event out of the whole thing.  And let’s face it, it’s awesome to take photos next to military aircraft.

Major props go to both the staff for executing this as well as the ship’s volunteers for being good sports about the whole thing.  I know it won’t be a common occurrence, but it was cool to see this done well.


“For my next trick, I shall fly around the room under my own power”

Babylon 5

Unlikely Candidate for Cons I Enjoyed

Anime Expo 2015


Those who follow my convention reviews know that I despise this con as anything and everything that can go wrong usually does.  Somehow, normally nice people turn into complete….uh, you know what I mean, which doesn’t help the total cost of this convention every year.  Despite this (along with a slightly cooler weather) I managed to get a lot of quality hall shots and photoshoots.  It definitely helped that some of the shoots I did were from series and characters I adore and know lots about.  The location still needs…massive improvement to be worth the cost, but at least this con balanced out in the end.  

It’s just weird that this convention actually beats Fanime in my personal ranking.  


“Fire card stud, nothing wild.  And the sky’s the limit.”

All Good Things.., Star Trek: The Next Generation

Convention of the Year




This is as close to a perfect experience as I could hope for.  Despite forgetting to bring a lot of memory cards and batteries (thank you to those who donated btw), I managed to get a lot of quality shoots this year.  Even better, I actually got to explore the con’s exhibit hall (which is huge this year) as well as attend a couple of panels (including Star Wars Rebels, among others).  Another rarity is that I got to actually hang out with a few cosplayers, which is very rare for me since I have to keep rushing.  

My only problem is that the new extended badge area.  They could have warned people in advanced and boosted the amount of badges they could sell on site.  Just something to be aware of.

In the end, conventions need to be a balance of friends, shoots, and things to see.  Decent food nearby helps too.  This event definitely definitely shows why comic cons are starting to beat out anime conventions in terms of friendliness among attendees.  



2015 – A Year in Review (Part 1)

•December 14, 2015 • Leave a Comment


In terms of my photography career, 2015 is definitely the worst year so far.  From the lack of respect and communications which caused unannounced cancellations of shoots to the recent burn notice I’ve received from the people of NorCal, this year has really torn me down and made me question myself as a photographer and as a person in this community.  I still got photos that I am proud of and would love to turn into prints.  At least I know people outside of NorCal and even outside California who I can trust still, but the small number is shrinking.  

So, I’m no longer trusted in NorCal.  And I have contemplated quitting after 7 years.

Yet despite this, I still realize that I still can’t afford to end this yet.  I still need to find a path to take in this charlie foxtrot of a world.  So, I can’t go back to who I was, but I can appreciate what I have right now.  And I can define myself by what I am:


Everything else is negotiable.


Convention Losses of 2015

“Of all the souls I have met in my travels…his was the most….human”

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

R.I.P Award

Anime Los Angeles

Despite the small size and the drunk-con mentality, I had been able to find the convention enjoyable.  Despite the amount of booze around the convention, many cosplayers still dress up for shoots, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  As time went on, the drinks opened earlier and during this year’s event, the hotel was really stretched to its limits with the tiny space.  So I don’t blame the idea of a move, though Ontario is a very difficult place for me to fly to from SF.  I’ve had my problems with rovers and hotel staff, but at least there were ways to get around some of them.  And at least I’ve had fun and had a lot of photos I can be proud of.

So long, ALA.  Thanks for all the English Essay jokes.

“Fission Mailed”

MGS2: Sons of Liberty

Personal Disappointment of the Year


Normally Fanime would be in the running for “Best Con of the Year” but this time…a lot of drama happened instead.  The trick is that the convention itself did only a few things wrong (mainly the hotel booking system being fundamentally broken) so I had to spend more for a suite.  It should not have been a problem since I booked several room shoots, but instead they all cancelled without warning and without prior contact.  On top of that, the non-room shoots mostly cancelled, leaving me depressed from being unable to perform my my best.  I still managed to get a few shots I could be proud of, but not enough.  

I have to acknowledge that aside from hotel, the convention is serviceable.  I can’t say about the events around the con due to booking and then waiting on cosplayers instead of enjoying the events, but the badge lines were rather quick plus food and spaces to shoot were close by.  I can still recommend that people at least check out Fanime, assuming they can find accommodations, and I can still say that this con has above average locations for shoots.

Instead of being The Avengers, it was more like Green Lantern.  It’s kind of like Man of Steel being “the worst Superman film”, in that it’s based on opinions and experiences from previous iterations.  Still, it managed to avoid getting my “Worst Convention” by the virtue of the next entry (sort of) existing…


“So Three Shots Disintegrated.

…I’m gonna pretend I didn’t hear that because that is literally the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” Wormhole eXtreme, SG-1

So Bad it was Retconned Out. / Worst Convention of 2015 / Worst Convention Ever (as of 2015)


Great name for an Anime convention, top notch guests, and being held at one of my favorite locations: Anaheim Convention Center.  The only problem: it technically never happened.  It’s tough to sort out fact from fiction, but not registering with the California government, money being spent…somehow, and a social media breakdown so epic, it was Konami-worthy, the convention basically imploded a month before it was even heald.  Say what you will about HyperCon, Japan Expo USA (not related to the one being held in SoCal right now), and the infamous Dash-Con, at least the event happened.

The reason this convention will forever hold a special place in my heart.  Without the convention even existing, I would not be able to secure locations to do photoshoots in.  So, I had eat the badge fee (I still have not gotten my refund) as well as the cancellation fee for my flight.  At least the event runners could have had the decency to run a smaller-than-expected convention.  Instead, they ran.  Actually, this doesn’t hold a special place in my heart. It deserves something worse than an “Epic Fail” stamp.  It deserves to be drawn, quartered, and hung on a pike so that the next 10 generations can see the price of cowardice.

Ok, I think I should stop here.  Next week, the highlights.

Photographic Justice: A Case Study in Victim Shaming and Unequal Justice For All

•October 16, 2015 • 1 Comment

“These aren’t evil people, Odo. These are people I’ve worked with. They’re my friends – people I respect. How can I turn against them?”

  • Commander Benjamin Sisko, Deep Space 9

“It seems to me, if they have committed treason against the Federation, the Federation that you swore to protect – you won’t be turning against them. *They* will have turned against you.”

  • Odo, Station Security, Deep Space 9

Clarification: Those that say “Let the courts / government decide” is not part of the group herein referred to as “remaining neutral”. I do not encourage vigilante justice for they only work in movies and comic books.  In fact, I want to see this play out in the court of law, for that is when this Northern California community can finally have some form of closure.  So if you post PSAs about safe cosplay/photographer etiquette is at least a step in the right direction.  What I can’t take is all the little jokes about how this is “no big deal”, that the victims “should have known better”, and the continued defense of this man’s actions.  If there is to be any sort of contrition for the actions of people like him, there has to be universal acknowledgement.  He might have been a good man.  He might have done a lot for the community.  But those quality do not outweigh the sins he has committed.

I can understand those that initially took the man’s side in the matter.  These days, it is hard to have facts verified, making it even odds that this is a slander.  However, as the victims all at once spoke out, many in the community chose the easier option to either ridicule the victims or classify the whole thing as “drama” and “remained neutral”.  So when is it do we stop and realize that someone has been hurt?  The second victim?  A minor?  What is the breaking point for people to realize that Cosplay =/= Consent?  Remember that was something that we all agreed to so much that many of us demanded that conventions and events increased security to prevent more incidents?  But now that the perpetrator has a face and reputation that everyone knows, instead of immediately calling for blood, we are still expected to assume the victims were liars?  It is noble to continue the “Innocent until proven guilty” but to say that after the evidence is out there for all to see.  Loyalty is very admirable and in short supply in this community, but the man clearly violated the trust of the community.  After 24 hours from the initial posting, it should be obvious.

Another topic is that the victims “should have know better”.  It is a common flaw in this society that “I think this is obvious, therefore other should too”.  I’ve trained in both photography and Information Technology and I know for a fact that not everyone is trained the same way.  Just because someone can sew a cosplay and another can make a prop doesn’t mean I can (I’ve tried).  The worst part of this mentality is that it feeds into “victim shaming”, that it is not the criminal’s fault they were violated but rather the victims themselves for somehow being too stupid to know better.  What those under “should have known better” forget is that many cosplayers in this community start out young.  I’ve heard and read stories that many of you started out in elementry or high school.  Increasingly I also see very long children wearing actual armor plates from Big Hero 6 and Ironman.  Should they “know better” too?  The man had impeccable credentials with a strong portfolio, there were (at the time) few complaints about his methodology, and many recommended his services in modeling, fashion, weddings, and events.  To say the girls didn’t do their research is not true.  Try doing research by looking at the screenshots ask yourself “what possible reason would there be for someone to transmit nude photographs for a non-nude photoshoot?”.  It was used as a method of coercion with lines like “this is common in photography (Spoilers: No it is not!)” or “We’ll delete these photos later (The iCloud scandal proves otherwise)”.  The definition of an “ambush” is “a surprise attack by lying in wait from a concealed position”, something that happened on multiple occasions over the years.  This could happen by the photographer using physical force (no evidence of that in this case). It could be by using words like “everyone else does this” and “this will help you boost confidence”.  Or it could be that the photographer will threaten to black ball the victim.  In these and many other cases, a simple “no” might not do any good.

So now that his guilt is obvious, instead of raising awareness, there are still groups in the NorCal area that refuse to prosecute the problem.  Indeed, they simply declare Neutrality and continue to write this off as “drama”, a spat between two parties.  The problem with taking a neutral stance in this case is that this is a clear violation not only of State and Federal Law but of the Rules and Regulations within the cosplay community.  In the past, the entire community was united whenever cases like these came up where someone would rig a shoe camera to take photos up cosplayer’s skirts.  After every major con, stories of people inappropriately touching without consent boiled the blood of every cosplayer. The whole “Cosplay =/= Consent” became almost universally adopted by the community at large.  So why then would someone who has been proven (admittedly outside of the courts) to be just like those other criminals and outcasts.  My answer is that just like the justice system at large, we give lip service to justice being blind of class, color, and creed, but when it comes from a very influential member of the community, then it becomes just that: lip service.

Regardless of all our opinions the fact is that the photographer did something that violates both the trust of the community and the laws in which we are all governed by.  By the letter of the law, what he did was a crime.  By the intentions of the cosplay community, he has been found guilty.  The law will decide this, but in the meantime, it is how we conduct ourselves that matters more.  Do we stand and defend the actions of a criminal by either defending him or sitting this out?  Or do we do something proactive like warn other young cosplayers and models of him or people like him?  Do we continue to preach that cosplay =/= consent, but implicitly allow anyone with roots in the community and years of service to commit criminal acts?  Or do we make it one big offensive joke about it, using words like “Salty” and “They should have known better”?

I’ve chosen my side in this fight.  But the Gods honest truth is:

I have never been more ashamed of being a part of the Northern California Cosplay Community.  I’m ashamed that this happened.  And I’m ashamed that people continue to make excuses for the criminal.  And to anyone who stands idly by and decide that there is not enough proof, I say keep your heads buried in the sand for that’s how I see this community because of you: Dead and Buried.

The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth, whether it’s scientific truth or historical truth or personal truth! It is the guiding principle on which Starfleet is based. And if you can’t find it within yourself to stand up and tell the truth about what happened, you don’t deserve to wear that uniform!

  • Captain Jean Luc Picard, U.S.S. Enterprise-D


US Code of Justice, Title 18, Part 1, Charpter 110, Subsection 2251

“Notably, the legal definition of sexually explicit conduct does not require that an image depict a child engaging in sexual activity. A picture of a naked child may constitute illegal child pornography if it is sufficiently sexually suggestive. Additionally, the age of consent for sexual activity in a given state is irrelevant; any depiction of a minor under 18 years of age engaging in sexually explicit conduct is illegal.

Specifically, Section 2251 makes it illegal to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for purposes of producing visual depictions of that conduct.”


1st Major Social Media Source

2nd Major Social Media Source

All the victims are working with Local Law Enforcement.

Bui has been reached for a statement by other sites.