There is a saying that you shouldn’t do something you love as a job as you will eventually come to hate it. Now while I don’t do event photography for a living, going to events and taking pictures it’s something that I enjoy… at least it was until recently. I’m sure most of you reading this can relate to what I am on about. We’ve all had bad experiences that can completely put us off doing something we enjoy.
an event that left me feeling so depressed that I decided to cut my losses and bail out on the second day
For me it all started on Saturday on the first day of the MAGC (Manchester Anime & Gaming Convention). I’ll summarise my experience below:
1. Lack of proper signage – now they did have some portable banners near one doorway but there were still people queuing at the other side of the sports centre as this is where the lines were the previous year. No one seemed to be bothered to come over and tell people waiting there until a line was already forming. All you needed to do was print out a poster telling people to queue on the other side of the building.
2. Early bird entry – now we had our advance tickets (£16 each for the weekend) which should (you would think) get us in dead on the advertised 10:30am start time…. We were standing in a large line in the rain while the crew were trying to get themselves organised. We didn’t get in until just before 11am when the regular punters turned up! So what was the point in buying advance tickets then. At every other event the organisers have had sufficient staff* to make sure that everything runs smoothly and on time. Clearly not here!
3. Honey I shrunk the Con! – I was told while waiting in line that this year they only had one hall for the whole convention! As soon as I walked in my heart sank as it was obvious that there were fewer traders and things to do. Within half an hour I had seen all of the tables once already! Knowing that most people attending would be expecting something bigger this was going to be something of a shock. Imagine trying to squeeze the same amount of visitors into an event space that is half the size of the year before. I heard from someone else that they weren’t able to get the other hall as it was closed for refurbishment. I took a quick look and saw that there were people playing badminton in the second hall and it was in no way being renovated.
4. Overcrowding – Now while I don’t mind crowds, as a photographer I would like some space to move. I had been there almost two hours and hardly taken a single shot as there were too many people trying to squeeze past. More importantly was a full risk assessment done as in my opinion the number of people in the hall and near the reception constituted a Health & Safety risk.
5. Poor Layout – There was a stage area shunted into the corner and guess what? They had no lights! It was dark and dingy. The only time it actually got brighter was when someone opened the side door briefly.
6. Lack of guests – At most cons I’ve been to there were at least some panels in other rooms you could go to or guest speakers.
I was speaking with another photographer who normally covers major events and he was not at all impressed with what he had seen. He told me that one of the staff said that he had to have a photographer’s pass to shoot there and went off and paid for one. I’ve never had to do that so it’s a new one on me!
Being Manchester you normally expect rain, and yes we had it which didn’t help but that was nothing I had any control over. When it did stop I decided to go outside to cool off and did manage to get some pictures but by this time my heart wasn’t in it and I felt like I was just going through the motions and not working at my best.
By now you can probably imagine how I was feeling with all this going on, it was really starting to take away any sense of enjoyment and turned the day into a stressful and ultimately depressing experience. It is the first time that I have been to an event that left me feeling so depressed that I decided to cut my losses and bail out on the second day and try and salvage something of the rest of my weekend.
Going to conventions and being an event photographer can be challenging at times but should still be enjoyable. But, as the title of this post (rant) says When the FUN stops STOP because life’s too short to suffer poor events! Save your money and got to one of the big professionally organised events instead!
*I’d like to point out that the majority of the crew are “volunteers” and do not get aid by the organiser other than getting to wear a crew T-Shirt and get pizza at the end of the day.