For a long time I've been amazed and inspired by cosplayers who do on location shoots. After cosplaying for 12 years, you tend to get into a routine when it comes to conventions. I'm hitting the 10 year mark for certain regional cons, so even though I love these events, when it comes to getting new and interesting photos, you are at a loss. Either you are shooting at the same place that you have in previous years or you end up with the same photos as ten other cosplayers due to the lack of suitable shooting locations.
What I love about conventions is that I get to see friends from far away, however, it's a catch-22 since people schedules are busy so you have to settle with saying hello in passing or ten minutes of chatter between shoots and panels.
So I took it upon myself to switch it up this year. At first I was inspired by Anna Fischer's Wild Places project and her "Cosplay Iceland" trip. I was also inspired by Lichon Photography's work with cosplayers out in western Canada. I was curious to know why I didn't see Canadian cosplayers going on these adventures, especially out west, so I figured I might as well make it happen.
I've never been to Western Canada, the furthest west I've been in Canada is Windsor, ON which is next to Detroit (although I've been to Vegas in the US). This was a multipurpose trip since I would get to do cosplay stuff but also be a tourist. The same applied to many of the people who participated.
Secondly, in the Banff area (We hit up 4+ national parks along the same highway) there is a high concentration of beautiful natural wonders, such as turquoise lakes, waterfalls, mountains, and giant cedars. The furthest point we traveled was about 4 hours from the airport in Calgary.
Thirdly, cost-wise Banff is an affordable trip. The locations are close and since it is in Canada we didn't lose money on exchange rates. This trip was supposed to serve as an alternative to travelling to a big US convention. For myself, it costs over $1000CAD to go to Dragoncon. Although I had a great time that one year I attended, the return on investment wasn't that great. Why not spend a little more and go someplace amazing for a week and get unforgettable photos and memories?
I find it amazing that I have reached a point in my cosplay life that I can convince seven individuals to go out into the wilderness with me. I was overjoyed that these lovely ladies signed up for the trip. I've known each of them for several years and it was nice to have us all in one spot. Katsucon 2015 was the last time we were all in the same building together, pictured below.
COSPLAYERS: Shushuwafflez, Nomadic Goldfish, Myself, Calamity Cosplay, and VickyBunnyAngel.
Another shout out goes to our amazing photographers. Three cheers for Lichon and Thistle for trusting that we weren't a bunch of psychos and signing up for this trip without knowing any of us. Can you imagine a week long road trip with strangers? Well, by the end of it we were all great friends so it worked out marvelously.
PHOTOGRAPHERS: Lichon Photography, TrickyLove, and Thistle Photography
This trip took a lot of planning. A lot. I'll get into that in another blog. On the plus side, it is something I am used to. I'm usually the one booking rooms for all my cons and airline tickets for myself and friends. I started organizing this one year in advance by scouting shooting locations, looking into park passes, and potential costs. Once I had a solid idea of the trip I sent out invitations and got other people involved.
The goal was to hit up as many diverse locations without feeling rushed. In the end we still ended up staying in five different hotels over a 7 day period but I feel we still had some room to relax. We had several potential shooting locations set aside for each day as options or back-ups depending on the weather and our energy levels.
Each cosplayers brought a selection of costumes (2-5) that fit the scenery. We kinda dropped the ball on big group cosplays but we'll make up for it next time. I was the crazy one who brought five costumes [Aion - Taliyah - Kida - Ravenna - Merle]. I figured if it could fit in my luggage, why not? Worst case scenario, I just don't wear one of them... but I wore them all, somehow. One of the important aspects of this trip was to enjoy ourselves without the crazy cosplay stress that comes with conventions. Which meant there were days that people had to take it easy and skip on wearing a costume or shooting at a certain location and it was OK. You're on vacation so take a step back, breathe a little, and enjoy your time with friends.
This trip was more than I could ever ask for. The whole group got along well and I got to bond with old friends. Our new team members quickly became good friends and I look forward to touching base with them over the years. I got to soak in so many sites and breathe in that fresh mountain air. I even saw two wild moose and a wolf while driving down the highway #Canada
We all got to test how hardcore we were as cosplayers.
Don't let your dream be dreams. JUST DO IT! We were three days into our trip and I still couldn't believe it was actually happening. It was a dream come true so it felt unreal. I made memories that will last a lifetime and I can't wait to do it again. Now that I know what it takes, I will likely do one of these trips every year or every other year.
MeltingMirror's Cosplay Blog
Learn more about my experiences in the cosplay world, from conventions to photoshoots and everything in between.