Before I ever started going to the convention, Otakon has always been for me tied to Baltimore. Pratt street and the Inner Harbor is taken over by cos-players and convention goers and everyone who works downtown or drives down Pratt Street knows it, because for one weekend you can't escape it.
Otakon is what made me fall in love with photography. I went for the first time five years ago, on a lark, tagging along with coworkers. I had some knowledge of Anime and going inspired me to watch more. What surprised me was every year I would spend less time going to talks and more and more time photographing and talking with cos-players.
As I walked around the con this year, I took a moment to reflect on what it will mean next year when it moves to the Convention Center in Washington, DC. For some attendees, the principal reason will be the size. Otakon has held steady to just under thirty thousand attendees for all of it's recent history. The Walter E. Washington Convention Center, on the other hand, holds just north of forty thousand attendees.
For me the biggest question will be "What will the photos be like next year?" The Convention Center and the Inner Harbor create many unique photo opportunities that give it a distinct feel. Doing a search on Flickr of Otakon photos, you'll quickly see the variety of locations. It has all the usual spaces you see in convention photos; the hallways, convention rooms, and hotel ballroom photos. Where it really shines is in all the nooks and crannies and the places to play with natural light; the indoor courtyard with the fountain, the outdoor balcony with lots of greenery in both covered and uncovered spaces, the Inner Harbor with the water in the background. That just names a few of the many places that have been photographed with costumers for decades.
As I was wandering around the Walter E. Washington Convention Center during Awesome Con this year, I missed the uniqueness of the Baltimore Convention Center. There seemed to be much fewer quiet places to go outside; or places to use natural light while taking advantage of the air conditioning for those in heavily costumes.
At the same time, it got me excited to see what Otakon will do with the space. If there is a group of people capable of feeling out a place for photos; it'll be Otakon attendees. When I first started going to Otakon, I was amazed at the cos-players and the photographers. It still is one of the most costume heavy convention I've ever attended, both in quantity and quality. And in equal measure you will find photographers who constantly inspire me with their work.