Photo Ops: What Really Happens

A lot of us have no idea how to prepare for a special moment in front of the camera with a celebrity guest at Dragon*Con.  So, what does it take?  A massive amount of work, that’s what.

Craig Damon, of Craig Damon: Photographer, arrived in Atlanta on Wednesday just to get the layout of his room and to check his schedule, which includes guests represented by either Celebrity Authentics or Julie Caitlin Brown’s Illumina Productions.  Thursday was the day when Craig was physically able to get his photography equipment, since he flies in from Los Angeles, CA, and rents the equipment from a local photography company.  He set up by doing test shots on his staff and available guests.

The actual photo shoots started on Friday and, as far as most people see, it’s simply a case of point, click, and shoot.  But it’s so much more than that.  Damon and his staff have to coordinate guest transportation and, until the scheduled guest arrives, the line—which can be substantial—stalls.  Thankfully, this isn’t usually the case, since Caitlin Brown keeps her guests on a relatively tight schedule. 

Saturday, however, there was a minor delay waiting for Paul Wesley from The Vampire Diaries. Katee Sackhoff was more than happy to provide a bit of comic relief by announcing, “You all might not realize this, but I’m actually Paul Wesley,” much to the delight of the assembled crowd.  Before leaving, she shared a story about working with a young Wesley.  After Sackhoff’s departure, Joseph Morgan happened to show up early, and Damon was able to accommodate the not-insubstantial line for individual pictures with the actor who portrays the evil vampire, Klaus, on The Vampire Diaries.  Shortly afterward, Wesley showed up, and combination photos with Wesley and Morgan began.

While Damon takes the pictures, a staff member checks the photographs on a laptop to make sure they come out without any major defects, such as the person who purchased the photo op blinking, and to ensure there are no printing errors. Another staff member retrieves the stack of pictures from the printer, sorts them by celebrity, and puts the photos onto the tables for the purchasers to pick up. Another of Damon’s helpers takes the number given to each person who purchases a photo op and exchanges it for the photo.

So the next time you’re in line for a professional photo op and you’re complaining that the line’s moving too slowly, remember that there’s more going on than just point, focus, and shoot.  It’s a coordinated effort of several people within one area, as well as between departments, too.

Author of the article

Desiree Jackson is no stranger to Dragon*Con and conventions in general. She's attended and worked in various capacities at different conventions for almost 15 years. Her devotion to fandom was sealed when introduced to fan fiction (by her mom) in high school. Although she mainly volunteers as a beta reader, Desiree has been known to write a story here and there. She's an avid science fiction fan and is excited to be working with the Daily Dragon this year.  She is thankful to be working with her talented and devoted (both to her and to scifi & the Daily Dragon) husband, Jason.