I’m home! Home, and recovering from another fun Norwescon. In something of a break from previous Norwescon wrapup posts, this one is going to be picture free. However, this is by no means due to a shortage of photos…in fact, just the opposite! As this was my first year volunteering as official staff photographer, I have, if anything, an overabundance of photos to process (the final count: 4,474). I will be working my way through them over the next few weeks, but as I’m also a student in my last few quarters before graduation, photo processing will have to take a back seat to homework. Still, I’ll be posting them to the official Norwescon Flickr account as I can. In the meantime, other congoers are already adding photos to the Norwescon 33 group.
Overall, the con was, as always, a lot of fun. In addition to this being my first year volunteering, this was also my first year getting a hotel room and staying on-site for the entire weekend. As Prairie isn’t into this kind of über-geeking, she went down to visit with her family for Easter, and I shared the room (and split the costs) with Laurie (Rowan Silverwing) and Brad.
Thursday morning, Prairie went off to work, and I finalized all my prepping and packing for the weekend. Said prepping and packing consisted of two bags and one box: one backpack of clothing, toiletries, and general hotel room stuff; one backpack of photo gear, which had my small day-use camera bag attached to it; and my iMac, nice and snug in its original packaging from Apple. I’d debated that last item, but given the number of photos I was expecting to shoot, and that I was planning on at least a minimum amount of posting from the con, it seemed the best approach.
Round about 11 AM, Tim showed up to pick up my old G5, load me and my gear into his car, and drive me up to the hotel. I got there a little after noon, checked in, and headed up to find my room, conveniently running into Laurie and Brad on the way (who were kind enough to help me schlep my gear through the halls).
The room ended up being the one downside to the con. Not that there was anything wrong with the room itself — it was simply that as I wasn’t sure I’d be staying at the hotel until fairly late in the year, and ended up reserving my room not long before the con’s reserved block entirely sold out, I ended up with a room in the party wing. Five doors down from Dethcon, and across the hall from Shockwave. While the hotel rooms are soundproofed enough that only a bare minimum of sound from the parties themselves carried through the walls, the people carrying on in the halls were plenty loud enough to make sleeping difficult. Still, now I know, and next year, our room will definitely be in some other wing of the hotel!
Anyway, with everything dropped off, I went down to registration just in time for their servers to crap out. Thankfully, from what I understand, this was the only time they had a major glitch at registration during the weekend. An hour or so later, I had my registration, and about half an hour after that (after a minor amount of confusion) I had my “official photographer all-access” badge, and was ready to go!
My t-shirt of the day — Princess Leia as the iconic Rosie the Riveter “We Can Do It!” image, with “Join the Rebel Alliance Today!” text at the bottom — got a lot of grins, compliments, and “where did you get that” questions (to which there was often disappointment when I had to tell them that it was a one-day sale only item).
The rest of the day — much like the rest of the weekend — was divided between wandering around the halls, getting shots of congoers and volunteers alike, and attending the various panels and events that I’d worked out ahead of time as being the most necessary to photograph. I began with the Thrill the World dance class, with zombies-to-be learning the steps of the “Thriller” dance; moved on to the Guest of Honor banquet, where I got my first shots of most of the Guests of Honor (Cory Doctorow, at this point, was still held up at customs); the Opening Ceremonies were next, by which point Cory had arrived; a quick stop by the Zombie 101 room for zombie training, makeup, and planning their attack on the con; finally, the Zombie Walk and the Thursday night dance.
Eventually, I made it back to my room, dumped my photos, and crashed.
Friday morning I established my morning routine: up between 8 and 8:30 AM, shower, breakfast in the Hospitality suite at 9 AM, then back up to the room to make a quick scan of the prior day’s photos to choose five “highlights” to post (straight out of the camera, as-is and uncorrected) to Norwescon’s Facebook page. Once all that was done, off I went!
Friday’s run covered the premiere of “Courage,” a Firefly fan series; an interview with Science Guest of Honor Dr. Kramer; the Gothic Tea Party, hosted by Jillian Venters, the Lady of the Manners; the first autograph session; the Single Pattern Contest, for which I took “beauty shots” of the entries, ran back up to the room to process them, then provided .jpg files on a thumb drive so the contest head could put them in a PowerPoint slideshow for presentation the next day; the Philip K. Dick Awards, which four of the seven nominated authors were able to attend; the Fannish Fetish Fashion Show, where I met a couple other local photographers (one of whom has been kind enough to show me some of his shots from the FFFS, and he did a wonderful job); upstairs to Maxi’s for their evening party sponsored by Weird Tales; and finally, the Friday night Stardance. Somewhere in the middle of all that I found some downtime for an hour’s nap.
Friday’s shirt was my “I’m Just Here to Get Laid” t-shirt, which got the usual number of laughs, grins, thumbs-ups, and inquiries as to how successful I’d been. No offers, though, so at least I didn’t have to turn anyone down (as much as Prairie is amused by the shirt, she’d probably frown at it being anything more than a fun joke).
Saturday morning was essentially a repeat of Friday, aside from heading over to Denny’s for a more substantial breakfast.
Saturday’s events covered the Star Trek: Phoenix fan film premiere, which packed one of the largest rooms in the con; both autograph sessions; an interview with Vernor Vinge conducted by another notable science fiction author, Greg Bear; the Masquerade costume photo area, which accounted for the majority of my shots on Saturday, racking up 1,625 at this event alone; upstairs to Maxi’s, sponsored this night by Star Trek: Phoenix; and again, finally, the Saturday night dance. One again, somewhere in the middle I managed to squeeze in time for an hour’s nap.
Saturday’s shirt was one I just had made a couple months ago, and which had its major public debut this weekend: “This man isn’t wearing any pants!” This comes from something shouted at me a few years ago while I was wandering around the Fremont Solstice Parade wearing my kilt (when it was “That man…” rather than “This man….”), and has been making me laugh ever since. It’s a fun bit of silliness to wear when I’m wearing my kilt (It might even more fun to wear at some point when I am wearing pants). Many laughs on this one as I wandered around.
Sunday morning, again, was a repeat of Friday’s, complete with breakfast at Hospitality. Added to the routine, however, was packing everything up and schlepping it down to the cloak room so that we could be all checked out of our room by noon.
My shirt for the day was my Cylon toaster shirt. Again, it got some grins, but it’s been around longer (and is a little more obscure), so not as much of a reaction. That was what I’d expected, though.
Sunday’s mad dash for photos covered the Easter Egg Hunt for the youngest set (four and younger); the Fannish Flea Market, a new event for Norwescon and one that appeared to be going over incredibly well; the Art and Charity Auction; getting shots of congoers leaving the movie preview session wearing t-shirts supplied by the movie studios; the filk music jam; a few shots at the Fandance Film Festival, which included the hilarious final results of the “Let’s Make A Movie!” event that had been going on throughout the con; the Onions and Roses panel, where I was pleased to hear the Twitter and Facebook updates that I assist with get a few nice comments; and finally, the Closing Ceremonies bringing the con to a happy and successful end.
I wandered over to the cloak room, picked up my stuff, had the hotel staff call a cab for me, and made it home by 7pm that night, happy and absolutely exhausted.
I’m thrilled that we were able to successfully expand our social media presence this year. Last year I’d created a Norwescon Twitter account just for fun, as a bit of unrecognized fan-run promotion. It picked up a few followers and seemed to go well, and so over the course of planning for Norwescon 33, the con’s Publications department had asked (and I’d happily agreed) to take over the administration of the account.
Once I was on-board as photographer, though — also a part of the Publications department — as we got closer to the con, and we started discussing ways to use the Twitter account during the con, I volunteered to once again take the reins for the account (in part because our webmaster, normally in charge of the Twitter account, was unable to attend the con due to scheduling conflicts with his day job). We got it tied together with the Facebook page, pre-wrote and -scheduled a number of updates to go out over the course of the con, covering event announcements, program changes, and other miscellanea, and did our best to check it in person every so often to answer any requests that had come our way. This ended up working really well, and I heard a number of appreciative comments over the course of the con. I’m quite proud of that.
As far as my first year as con photographer went, overall, I’m quite happy with how it all worked out. The big thing I’m going to be considering over the next year as we wind down from Norwescon 33 and prepare for Norwescon 34 is just how exhausting it was for me to try to cover the entire con on my own. I think I did a pretty decent job, but there were a few things I wanted to hit that I wasn’t able to get to (the Match Game, for instance, along with many of the more popular panels). I’m going to be putting some serious thought (and discussion with the Publications head, once my ideas are a little more solidified than they are at the moment) into seeing if I can take on one, perhaps two “assistant” photographers to assist with getting full coverage of the con next year.
I also heard from a few of the other photographers that the Saturday night Masquerade photo area continues to be a source of frustration for many, something that I’ve thought myself in past years, and that was only partially mitigated by my status as “official” photographer this year. This is an area that I’m going to be brainstorming on over the next few months to see if I can come up with any workable ideas and suggestions for alleviating the issues that seem to be occurring each year.
My single biggest regret, though, is one that in many ways has nothing to do with the con itself. It’s simply that, as I’m a student (and, by the time Norwescon 34 rolls around, will be graduated and (knock on wood) gainfully employed), now that I’m back in the “mundane” world, I’ve got to concentrate on silly little things like homework, and I can’t devote the next week to getting all these thousands of photographs sorted, processed, edited, and uploaded! I’m thrilled to see the man photographs already appearing in the Norwescon 33 Flickr group, as well as the catch-all Norwescon Flickr group, so those people who are looking for photos will be able to find them…I just wish I had the time to get the “official” shots up on the Norwescon account sooner! Still, real life has its responsibilities, and I’m pretty sure that everyone knows that I’ll get them up as soon as I can, and there’s certainly nobody (other than myself) rushing me.
And…I think that’s it! Another fun year, and my first year volunteering, and I had a lot of fun doing it. Here’s to Norwescon 34!