NadiaSK as Kagura Minamoto, Photo taken at FotoCon 2017 at Suriwa Japanese garden

PixelMania is a similar event to FotoCon — an international cosplay photography event that took place in Wleń (Poland) between 2015 and 2017. PixelMania will take place in Wleń starting from August 2018.

First time I heard about FotoCon was two years ago from Azur Cosplay Photography. It was a new form of a convention for me: open collaborative plain-air over the weekend, sort of. From the first look that event was very promising, but from another, there were a lot of questions. The format of the event was new and I did not know what to expect. I thought it was in the middle of nowhere, I had no idea of how I am going to get there, I did not know who will be there, how I am supposed to arrange shootings, I did not know where I am going to live, what are the locations there and how it all works at the end.

I got my answers

Wleń, a main location of the event, is not that far from Berlin so I decided to take a risk and give this event a try and applied almost at the end of registration. Few months after, I received a happy email saying that I was accepted along with so many talented cosplayers and cosplay photographers, whom I admire and did not even imagine a possibility to collaborate with! This is the first reason you should visit PixelMania.

Most of my questions at this point were not answered, but over a couple of days with a help of local German event community and facebook page for the event participants, I had my answers.

Wleń is located in the countryside with a relatively big city 30 minutes by car, which is nice for photography actually, but not so convenient in transportation. Public transport is not regular so the best way to get there is by a car. Two years ago I did not have my driving license, but I found companions who were going to the same event. A big question for me was accommodation. There was a possibility to live in the school for free, but it was not a good option for me. There were no AirBnB offers in Wleń two years ago (unlike now) and traveling on a local bus was not an option. Luckily after some googling, I found an “apart-hotel” flat in the city, which I shared with my companions and in the end, it was very affordable. Accommodation and transportation — solved!

Screenshot of a tiny piece of the event map with handpicked locations marked!

But what about shootings and locations. Meet someone on the con and arrange ad-hoc shooting? — not the best idea. On German-speaking event page a map with all locations, including photos and videos from the previous year, was shared and it was so great to see all the possibilities opened: a huge dam with an amazing view, abandoned places, beautiful Tuscany-like valley, forest waterfalls. A heaven for photography! This is the second reason you should visit PixelMania. What’s also cool, that official location map was expanded and more places were added sometime before the event in 2016! To help cosplayers and photographers with the arrangements, organizers of the event made a web-service, where you can add your profile, find other people and then agree on photo-shooting. To be honest, it was not a perfect website, but it did its job of discovering people! Final agreements we did over common messengers, planned shootings in calendar and spreadsheets.

A car is not a must, but very good to have

The question of organizing shootings and locations was solved, but another question appeared… How without a car I am supposed to get to all these beautiful places?! What is great, that there are event helpers willing to drive you to a distant place and take you back a couple of hours after. I used their help twice and the rest of the time cosplayers were taking me in their own cars.

Some locations are close to the main event area, but some are rather far. A few “taxi”-helpers will do their best to deliver and pick you up on time. Please note that due to high demand and the distance of locations there might be a lack of “taxi”-helpers. If you have driver’s license we ask you to use it with your own or rental car.

But anyway,, it’s great to have your own wheels so you can easily get to the con itself as well as travel between locations. Taxi might be late, which is not a fatal problem because life is life and things can happen. Just keep that in mind and account extra 20–30 minutes just in case.

One of the fantastic places of the event. Ketrin Cosplay as Aloy, Horizon: Zero Down

For the reasons I mentioned above, I took my time and got my driving license just to go to the event in 2017 on my own. Which I believe is a great investment.

It can be rainy, people can be late— oh, rly?

For the first event, together with my companions, we arrived on Friday to apart-hotel at 14:00, and my very first shooting was scheduled for 14:00, so I was already 30 minutes late… This time I was late, another time a cosplayer was late. So it can happen, just keep that in mind, be nice and communicate and everything will be fine.

The whole Friday there was a heavy rain and we barely made pictures during the very first shooting. There were many desperate attempts to go out under umbrellas and quickly take some pictures. It was for sure not the best beginning of the event. The rest of Friday pretty awesome, together with Suzu Cosplay we went to abandoned and very atmospheric car repair shop and took some cool Fire Keeper pictures and had a lot of fun. So my mood by the end was on a high level despite the killer-weather. Rain might be bad for photos, but it pushes you to talk and share the experience with others, which is an important reason you visit PixelMania! So if it rains — go socialize! Because every single person in this area shares the same values as you do. This is the third reason you should visit PixelMania.

Dusty and abandoned car workshop. Suzu Cosplay as Fire Keeper.

You won’t believe, but on 2017 edition there was also rain on Friday and it was even worse… There was a storm hitting Europe from the north with all these consequences. But this time our technology was more advanced and we used special cloud-tracking mobile map with cloud movement forecast, which was precise and saved all my shootings this day, besides one.

It might be rainy. Oh, really? Rain is not the end, just anticipate it and think of Plan B in advance, go talk to people, who are also down, just like you and it will be fun! If I will be accepted for 2018 edition of PixelMania, I’ll bring a little studio setup to scare rain away this time.

It’s damn serious

Unlike convention shootings, where the mood is more relaxed and artists don’t put high goals, on FotoCon/PixelMania everyone is focussed on the best possible results. It’s because everybody went that far, for 2–3 days and want to take as much great pictures on these epic locations as possible! This is the 4th reason you should visit PixelMania! Every single shooting I made, was supported with a scenario, where I wrote guiding points for the story like poses, framing, guidelines, which helped me to stay focused and recover in case I forgot something. Mood boards were prepared as well, which helped cosplayers to get in the mood and better understand the final look. These months of planning and scripting paid out with 150 fantastic pictures from 22 shootings from both FotoCons. And one of the best pictures from my cosplay photography year 2016 and 2017 were taken on that event. And even more, many of these collaborations were possible only because of the event and all the talented people and locations in one place.

Shunsuke, Dorian Macbeth, Lux Cosplay, Leon Chiro as awesome Final Fantasy XV team!

It’s a well of knowledge

One of the best parts of the event was, of course, BBQ time, Saturday evening when after two days (10–12 hours each) of shooting, you gather around over a drink and chat with all these fantastic people, whom you had no chance to meet under “normal convention conditions”. It is a great opportunity to ask opinion in person about the best conventions in their country, new cameras, lighting, editing, Worbla or EVA-foam, find new friends and tell everyone how rainy that Friday was. It’s for sure the 5th reason you should visit PixelMania, you would never find as many talented people as on that BBQ Saturday. Well, maybe only at WCS party.

So if you scrolled to the end of the article to find these five reasons to visit PixelMania 2k18, you are in the right place!

  1. One of the best cosplayers and photographers in one place
  2. 80 different shooting locations, scouted and placed on the map
  3. Everyone shares the same values as you do
  4. Everyone is focussed on the best results
  5. BBQ party on Saturday

If you have any questions — bring them on! I will be happy to answer them. 😉