Katsucon 2018 Review

Katsu “Kaxyou” con 2018 Review

TL;DR 3/10 There were good photos and good times, but the event has far outgrown the venue. In addition to the overcrowding, general staff, both con and hotel, were poor with attitudes as well as line management to quell the raging influx of attendees. Programming was extremely lackluster, with rooms completely empty for large amounts of time and for the travel distance, it just isn’t worth it anymore. You could come for cosplay, and to see great cosplay (and even battle with other photographers / congoers for a location to shoot those cosplays), but I don’t think that that reason alone is worth the true cost of spending another weekend in the national harbor, at least, not for me. It’s a two-hour trip that aside from the memories, is best left in the past. Here are my thoughts:

Let’s talk positives! Because it isn’t a fair review without them

  • Thurs/Sun Weather: Despite not getting to the harbor in time to do any shoots on Thursday, I do have to say that the weather both then and on Sunday made being outside a blast. While I did do light shooting both on Friday and Saturday, the weather was a real treat on the other two days. Additionally, Thursday was fun in general. It was one of the only cons I’ve ever been to where day 0 beat out days 1 and 2

  • Roommates: I stayed with some pretty awesome people, and while we all didn’t spend too much time in the room (who does, it’s Katsu lol), I felt that there were plenty of small moments which connected us a lot closer than ever before. Whether eating, drinking, sleeping, or being merry, there were all of these tiny pieces of time that really added up to be a fun, mostly hassle free experience

  • Photos: It’s the Gaylord. Enough said? I thought it was pretty awesome that most of my shoots paid in advance and so working with people was hassle free and that was a huge positive. I got to see such amazing work up close and that’s always worthy of a mention. Additionally, I had the metaphorical torch passed to me by a photographer with some renown and that was a different feeling altogether

  • Pose: 21+ for when the kids go to sleep. I had lots of fun dancing, and there were lots of fun people. Had a great time when I went. Came with a squad, met a new squad in VIP, and ended with a squad. It was great. Shoutouts to Sasuke for coming in lit AF and shattering the dance floor

  • Meeting People IRL (and reconnecting with others): It was pretty fun meeting different Instagram followers throughout the weekend, and everyone had really good things to say. I got to see and work with some people that I haven’t been able to in a really long time, and it was exciting putting our energy together for great photos and catch up talks. I took some time to play games with friends, and it was a really positive experience for me

  • Shibari: Rope sessions were extremely fun and all the way chill. Despite them taking place later in the evening, I worked with excellent people and had good times. They were actually pick-me-ups for what might have not been too excellent of days beforehand, so I’m extremely grateful for the patience and trust that my models had with me, even though my energy may not have been at absolute best

  • Became the god of virGINia and inducted several people into the fold while absolving a man of all his sins. If you were there then you know. That was a highlight of the weekend most definitely

Moving on to the negatives for this year!

  • Accessibility: Once the gazebo area was ‘blocked off’ for those who had reserved it, the entire area pretty much became useless for anything else. Walking was a nightmare. Again, with larger groups like the Persona gatherings, getting photos was even difficult, and this was no different for the fountain area, where the cleared trees put that many more people in your background

  • Food: There was a consistently long Marketplace line for purchasing exorbitantly priced convenience meals and had another terrible experience at a different restaurant in the National Harbor. I think from here on out I’m exclusively going to eat at Nandos and Graces when I’m in the area. It is truly hard to replicate the level of service they offer, even if it comes at higher meal premiums

  • Crowding: Some will say that it was a given, and while I do agree, this again made things quite stressful as a photographer, especially with paid shoots. I made due as always, but at the cost of being generally more stressed out and tired because of difficulties shooting. I generally dislike the feeling of walking in a massive crowd of people because I have precious gear at my side, and I feel that many cosplayers experienced the heavy stress of being bumped into numerous times as well

  • Friday Evening: During golden hour, I had a shoot cancel and then had a mild panic attack over utilizing this time for photos. When that failed, I sorta went hermit in the room and sank into a large depression. It made me wonder who exactly wanted me at con, and didn’t feel good at all. In addition, the rave later that night was so bad that I regretted leaving Pose for it hardcore. It felt like one of the only reasons I would even have for getting a Katsu badge was stripped away right there

  • Cleaning Staff: I’d heard stories, but didn’t think anything of them. However this year, the cleaning staff was doubly intrusive, ignoring clear warnings and hesitating to leave when prompted. I don’t know what about this year made the hotel’s staff completely 180, but it was definitely weird and definitely breeds mistrust for the Gaylord in general

  • Parking: Had problems leaving, again. Some might have also called this a given, but it’s extremely frustrating when you have to spend longer than 20 minutes to leave the garage in order to begin the 2 hour trek back home, and the staff that manned the Gaylord Garage didn’t seem to have any idea what they were doing at all. There were actually four cars that completely turned around and left the line because the staff person on duty wasn’t helping at all, and they weren’t being let out

  • Dealer’s Room Access: Sunday was a nightmare, and that’s all I can really say. When there are four lanes of traffic spanning the entire length of the floor, and no way to move aside from ‘cutting’ someone, I pretty much gave up trying to get access. On the other hand, it was fairly easy getting into Artist’s Alley, even though I didn’t spend much there. If you want people to spend tons of money at your con, proper line management, and potentially extending the hours of the biggest monetary attraction there might help significantly

  • Atmosphere: I don’t think I’m the only one that noticed how…unwelcoming the atmosphere in general was? I’ll get manhunted for using the word elitism in reference to cosplay or speaking of cliques, but I did feel a general sense that the people around me in most situations would not help anyone at all. In fact, I did experience a moment where there were at least 5 people that observed me struggling with something, and none of them made moves to help despite being mere feet away from me and observing coldly. I heard this was also true with meeting new people in cosplay as well and it is kind of sad, because conventions are all about coming together, even in the basest sense of the word. Things have certainly changed from years past

In summation, Katsucon this year was simply not enjoyable for me. It wasn’t devoid of good moments at all, and I feel really satisfied with my commitment to my clients, and still getting excellent shots despite my heart not being completely in sync, but it just felt like a stressful disaster. I wish that I could say I would come back simply for the few people that made this convention a blast, but there’s too many people in attendance to even maximize my time with those people. Also, no longer can I use “it’s the Gaylord” as an excuse, because I had 5x more fun at Magfest with the exact same venue, and there were also really awesome cosplays there as well for photos. For this year in general, significant cost reductions ended up being the only reason I even attended for the weekend, so I can’t image returning, even if the situation was the exact same for next year. I appreciate all of the people that worked with me, and I still think I did you guys proud, because I’m still astonished at the quality photos that I’ve seen so far while working on these edits. Catch me at Magfest for 2019. Won’t be returning to Katsucon, 3/10

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#DarkfoxPhotography #Travel #NationalHarbor #OxonHill #Cosplay #Convention #Katsucon2018 #Katsucon #Adventure #Friendship

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