Conventions General Photography

My Experience at Anime Magic 2022 – A Cozy Chicago Anime Convention

I used Claude AI to generate a summary of my video from its transcript. Not bad!

Anime Magic is a relatively small but growing anime convention in the Chicago area, and 2022 marked my first time attending. I was curious to check it out mainly to photograph cosplayers. Even though it’s not as massive as Anime Central, I wanted to get this video edited before the next convention I plan to attend.

I have to say, Anime Magic was a pleasant surprise! It had a nice layout and while not nearly as huge as Anime Central, there were some unique aspects that made it stand out, which I’ll go over.

A younger crowd.

The convention definitely had a younger crowd than I’m used to these days. But hey, whatever works! With the younger vibe, my focus naturally gravitated toward capturing group cosplay photos.

Funny enough, the much larger C2E2 convention was happening downtown the same weekend. I would’ve liked to attend C2E2, but getting into the heart of Chicago is such a hassle. Anime Magic ended up being a nice compromise for me.

Squid Sisters paintings at Artist Alley.

They had all the typical convention amenities – dealers room, artist alley, arcade/console/tabletop gaming, panels, themed photo ops, autograph area, lockers, viewing rooms, and main events. Of course, I didn’t really experience much beyond taking cosplay photos, which is my thing.

But Anime Magic did offer some more unique attractions. I saw areas for foam fighting, an Itasha car display, ax throwing (called AXE Legends), archery, augmented reality setups, an idol stage performance area, Japanese pottery demonstrations, a manga library, and even a maid cafe. Pretty cool variety!

Throughout the convention, I was snapping away with my Nikon Z5 and 28mm f/2.8 lens. Kept it simple in aperture priority mode at f/2.8 with a minimum 1/125th second shutter speed to avoid motion blur on the cosplayers. Wide area autofocus with face/eye detection was enabled, and I had it set to focus priority over release priority. The Z5 performed great as usual.

Face detect autofocus isn’t great with cosplay, but tapping on the Z5’s screen works when there are issues.

If it struggled with autofocus on someone’s face due to makeup or a mask, I just tapped the screen to focus where I wanted. Easy! The main convention hall had decent natural light too, so f/2.8 was perfect. Though I could always stand to have a larger aperture like what the Z 40mm f/2 would provide.

I also had my GoPro Hero 9 running on a backpack mount to capture some fun POV style video footage. Maybe I’ll put together a longer video showing my full cosplay photography process…

When doing hallway cosplay shoots, here are some tips I follow: Take multiple shots of each pose to have options in case of blinks or weird expressions. This is especially key for groups where the odds of someone making a goofy face increase. If a shot looks off, shift your position a bit – small adjustments can help.

With single cosplayers, I try to get at least one full body and one closer portrait, either vertical or horizontal. But for groups, stick to horizontal landscape style photos. I’ll sometimes suggest an alternate pose too, but I don’t linger too long with each person.

Browsing the dealer’s hall.

Anime Magic 2022 definitely gave me nostalgic vibes of my early convention days. It has that cozy, intimate vibe which I think is a great thing. If you’re in the Chicago area, it’s definitely worth checking out this fun little gem of a convention! Though, keep in mind things might be different in the future because it’s probably going to grow a lot.

Check out the Nikon Z5 Digital Camera and other related gear through my affiliates:

As an affiliate of these shops, I earn from qualifying purchases!