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Michael Rodriguez
Artist | Professional | Photography
United States
Photographer, Trekkie, g33k, cat lover!
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(Note: Okay, AX report is now complete. This entry is loooooong.  Sheesh.  I was even trying to keep it short. :(  Now thatm I'm finally done I feel that this is all a bit self-indulgent, like honestly, who gives a crap?  I know the cosplayers I shot want their photos, but who really cares about the details of my weekend at Anime Expo?  I completed this since I was already half done, but it just feels like I should be spending my time on something more productive...something someone actually cares about.)

Quick synopsis

AX2009 was great! Haha! I'm exhausted and still a bit giddy from the rush of being so damned busy, hanging with my cosplay and photo peeps and hiding from creepers! :D No day was left without a bunch of great memories.  Even the weird and random events will probably make for some good laughs next year!

I seem to have completely shifted away from shooting random cosplayers.  Both at Fanime and now Anime Expo I'm only shooting with people I know (or am introduced to).  No more walking up to someone and asking if they'd like to shoot.  Yeah, this has a downside, but at the moement I see mainly benefits.  I'm shooting with people I am familiar with and already know I can get good photos from.  They're friends (or friends of friends) so I get to hang out and have fun while I'm working.  The quality of my work improves as I continue to build on the relationships I've already formed instead of awkwardly trying to pose someone I've never worked with.  The downside is I'm missing out meeting with new cosplayers and some awesome costumes (Lionel's Bumblebee and the Dhalsim cosplayer at AX come to mind).  But, at least recently, this hasn't been a concern.  Maybe that will change as time goes by or vary depending on the convention.

Day 0
Not much to report.  Headed to the con to get my badge (which wasn't ready) while listening to some Thriller on the drive down.  Headed up to the Westin Bonaventure to catch up with :iconkuchikixrukia:, :iconshlmatta-baka-nl: and crew and get my lumpia and pancit they brought for me! Haha...oh man..that was a highlight right there.  I love that stuff.  <3

Chatted with Andy (www.asianschoolboy.com) via Facebook when I got home about carpooling and he asked if he could crash at my place during the convention.  Unexpected as this was, it was actually pretty cool. We didn't hang out much at the con, both of us being busy, but we had interesting convos over the course of the weekend.  We even squeezed in a little Rock Band on Wednesday night!

Day 1
Andy drove over to my place, left his car on the street and we headed to the LACC for some AX goodness.  Andy did some searching and got us free parking for the whole damn con! Wow! $$$$ saved! Haha!

Ran into :iconsandlvlan: and :iconahzamiracle: first thing.  Raul had asked a few days earlier if he could join me in my wanderings and watch me work, so it must have been Fate that we had Ahza to start with.

Next up was a group shoot with :iconstartoonhero:, :iconcloudchasing:, :iconleonnnn:, :iconpri-cos: in their Persona 4 cosplays shot in the dark of the West Hall parking garage.  This one was a lot of fun, got some great shots and unintentionally hilarious ones.

Switched to :iconkuchikixrukia:, one of my favorite cosplayers :D in her Sherlotta cosplay.  We headed outdoors with Raul and ran into AX's head PR guy, Chase, who invited us to an AX party at the Lucky Strike restaurant/lounge/bowling alley/thingy.  We just had a few free sodas and headed back out since Jo needed to get back to her group.

Raul and I were regretting passing up free dinner at Lucky Strike when I heard about free food and a room party from my friend, the AnimeChef, Bert, up at the Westin Bonaventure.  Due to AX's stupid shuttle pass policy this year, we walked the 10 blocks, full camera gear in tow.  The room party was small, but Bert made some butternut (butterbut!) squash soup and some tasty pasta and we gorged until we were sated!  Hung out, skipped the drinks and took off around 1am with Andy and his gf, Shira, who was now also crashing with us.

Took 120 shots on Thursday.  This was my slow day! :)

Day 2
Got back to the Con at 10am, since Andy had to do some video work for a booth.

Started the day with :iconshiya:'s friend, Veronica in a Final Fantasy VII variation.

Hooked up with an old friend and new bestest con buddy :iconbeautiful-rose: (BACON!) to shoot her Kos Mos costume and her epic gun!  Her Kos Mos was pretty cool, but more was to come!

Did a set with :iconshiya: in her Xianghua (which somehow got imprinted onto my brain as Sham Wow).  We wandered the con and got some more standard Shiya shots (which means completely awesome).  Shiya even grabbed my camera to get a shot of me licking her sword! :)

:iconkrazekid: and Bianca from AZ met up with me next and asked if I could shoot their Code Geass costumes.  We went outside and shot on the emergency exit stairs...I've always wanted to shoot there and didn't realize you could just open the outer door and walk in.  Bianca and I had a good time playing off each other for the next hour, much to Ashley's embarrassment.

:iconstartoonhero: and :iconcloudchasing: asked me if I could do another shoot with them.  I can't remember the series they were cosplaying at the moment, but I do remember the photo they wanted me to emulate was really cute.  We shot out on the street corner near some installation art, which ended up not being a good background.  Will probably need to photoshop that background out unfortunately.

My friend Austin found me and asked if I could shoot his co-worker when I had some time.  After running around with COIN-OP TV Rob and Andre of Black Nerd Comedy for a bit, I met up with her and we wandered around looking for a location to shoot her dress, which was actually quite nicely made.  I don't recall the character or series and she was a bit difficult to work with.  We ended up with a few good photos, but it took quite a while to get what I did.

I spent about an hour walking around by myself and waiting for Miguel to appear.  He wanted a shoot in his cosplay.  By this time it was 8pm.  We headed out to see what the LACC could give us at night.  There was some interesting purple lighting outside the Staples Center, but it didn't really work for Miguel's costume, which was green.  I ended up taking a few shots of :iconshiya:'s Xianghua under that lighting instead and experimented with lighting and movement with Miguel.

I was pretty much done for the day.  I snuck onto a hotel shuttle and made my way to the Westin Bonaventure for another room party.  Bert served some freshly made Paella (sp?) and there was lots of alcohol to go around.  I had a "Chocolate Cake" which was actually pretty cool.  I don't know what was in it, but after you licked the sugar and lemon from your hand and took the shot, it did taste like chocolate cake!  I got to hang out with Tony Quan and the rest of the photography gang for a few hours.

During the party I was texting back and forth with :iconilovebobax3: about shooting her Yuna variant at the Westin.  Once she got out of the AMVs, she headed over and we met in the lobby.  It was a bit difficult shooting in the lobby at night.  The lighting was hard to capture and posing around the fountains we were trying to shoot was awkward.  We did end up with some good shots though.  Jenn's staff broke earlier in the day, but we successfully got it into some photos!

Had originally planned to head back to the room party, but saw several peeps from the room wandering about the lobby and found out it had broken up early. So that was that.  Walked Jenn back to her room and hung out there for an hour or so with them instead.

And finally the night ended in the lobby with me waiting for Andy and his girlfriend to finish up at the dance.  It was 3:30 am, I was exhausted and caught a few scattered ZZZs on one of the comfy couches in the lobby. :)

Add 320 new photos to the production queue!

Day 3
Ahaha! Yay! Started the morning with :iconbeautiful-rose:! We shot her Yoko costume, complete with evil, yellow contacts.  Epic shots were ours to be had!  And took them we did...until someone came over and begged her to go to a gathering.  So she had to run off a bit early.  took a few shots of her friend, Amanda, who I had neglected to shoot the day before.  Unfortunately my lightstand for my primary wireless flash broke and I had to run off to get my car keys from Andy so I could swap it out with one in the trunk! Ugh!

Due to time constraints, I missed shooting with my Mari the previous day, but we were able to connect once I got back to the convention center.  We settled in the coolest spot in the convention hall (literally...the AC there was blowing so nicely!) to shoot her Haruhi schoolgirl costume from Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.  I haven't shot with Mari for a year/year and a half, so everything started off a bit strangely and I had difficulty finding the right lighting set up, but we managed and got back to a shadow of our previously relationship and actually had a good time shooting, despite some random creeper who wandered over and sat down right next to us and proceeded to stare at us.

So I wander back into the Dealer Hall and who should I bump into about 10 feet from the door? :iconbeautiful-rose: in her Garnet costume and Amanda as Zidane from Final Fantasy IX.  We joined up with :iconkuchikixrukia: and :iconshlmatta-baka-nl: as Queen Minnie and King Mickey.  We headed outside to do a group shoot, originally conceived as a poofy dress shoot.  Five minutes after setting up a Bleach gathering apparently decided to form around us which made getting photos difficult, but not impossible.  Everything was going well until someone unexpected showed up and the only drama I experienced at the convention began.  I won't name any names, but someone creeped out all the girls and me too...  And we ended up on creeper-watch for the remainder of the weekend.

Miguel wanted a shoot in his Saturday cosplay and we took some cool shots without leaving the lcoation as :iconbeautiful-rose: didn't want me to wander too far away.  I really do need to start memorizing the costumes I'm shooting!

Our group broke up after I finished shooting Miguel and we headed up to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner.  We didn't actually make it that far, however, and decided to try the Pantry Cafe instead. Yay for sore con feet!  There was plenty of bacon to go around!

Back at the con we headed to one of the back staircases to take some more shots of their FFIX costumes and had the ONLY experience with a con volunteer who wasn't a douche.  The guy came over, said he was cool with us using the staircase so long as we didn't block it.  Holy crap! If all volunteers were as sensible the con would have been a LOT better.  Another weirdo showed up at this point, some kid who came over and asked if he could take a picture with the girls.  We all said that was cool and I stepped aside.  "I don't have a camera," he told us. WTF??  Haha...so I took a picture of him with the girls and then he just kind of hung around talking and asking questions.  Finally we told him we were done with the location and left...

For whatever random reason, the Beauty and the Beast ballroom dance popped into my head! The LACC lobby! It would be empty at 8pm!  It would look like a big, empty ballroom! Oh shit! We headed over and shot the girls dancing in the lobby.  Some of the security guards came over...and asked to take pictures with the girls, not to mention every random person walking through.  But the shots came out great!  We were all a bit tired at this point and found a quiet area to relax in.  The girls crashed for a bit, Angela and I chatted and finally the girls' ride came.

I wandered back to the West Hall to find it was still extremely packed!  The masquerade had apparently let out recently and thousands of cosplayers and photographers were hanging around shooting.  I was pretty bushed by this point and just watched the proceedings until security kicked everyone out and closed the entire convention center at midnight.

I waited outside for some friends I'd been texting with about getting a game of Ninja started out front.  They showed about 12:30 and we got things rolling.  NINJA!  Sort of a turn-based tag game I was introduced to at Fanime.  I showed it a friend who showed it to his friends and we all got together outside and played in the wee hours of the morning.  Random people stopped by to watch and most of them joined in for a few rounds or a few hours, finally growing from the original six of us to around 30 around 4am.  At 5, we were all exhausted.  I had to walk back up to the Marriott to get my car keys from Andy as the shuttles had stopped running hours ago.  He was on the roof with some friends watching the sun peaking over the horizon.  It was a pretty view, but one I'd seen from my old apartment building.  That and the fact my feet were so sore they were causing a headache meant I was ready to go home.  We caught the next shuttle from the Westin and finally reached my house around 6:30!

Another 220 photos for the con!

Day 4
Several people had asked if I could take photos on Sunday and I had fully intended to, but I was so tired, rolling in around 1pm on just a few hours sleep I honestly hoped I didn't have to.  It turned out I didn't.  Most everyone was either unreachable or not available.

I ran into Andre of Black Nerd Comedy while trying to get my first and only glimpse of the Dealer Hall.  I got about halfway through before they closed it.  Met up with :iconkuchikixrukia:, :iconshlmatta-baka-nl:, :iconstartoonhero:, :iconcloudchasing:, :iconleonnnn:, :iconilovebobax3: and :iconpri-cos: in the lobby.  We were all hungry and decided to head to the Curry House in Little Tokyo.  I got a hold of :iconbeautiful-rose:, who was still hiding from the previous day's creeper, went and picked her and Amanda up and we headed out of the con to join up with the group.

Lunch/Dinner was great!  Wow! I haven't had Japanese food that good since I left San Diego!  I was so happily surprised!  The menchi-katsu, which I hadn't tried before, was delish!  So was the little Japanese salad that came with it.  I love those Asian salads...the dressing is always awesome!  We were there for over an hour eating,laughing, looking at pictures and finally digesting our large meals.

Sadly, it was the end of Anime Expo.  We said our goodbyes and hugged and hugged...and hugged.  Angela, Amanda and I headed back to the car and I dropped them off with their ride back home.  Finally I steered the car towards home, which felt lonelier than ever, but a furry little man was waiting for me and needed much petting and scratching behind the ears after a few days of minimal attention.

To all those I hung out with at AX...I miss you all! To those I took photos of, thank you! I appreciate your time and patience. And your amazing costumes! To those I hung out with a lot, you know who you are...you're awesome!  And to that special person I won't see again for a year...you'll be missed most of all.
  • Listening to: Rolling Stones - Street Fighting Man (on repeat!)

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:iconelysiagriffin:
elysiagriffin Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2012  Professional Photographer
Happy Birthday! :la: :iconcaekplz:
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blanklogo Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2012  Professional Photographer
Thank you!
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GrauerWolf Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
Happy Birthday! ;)
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blanklogo Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2012  Professional Photographer
Thank you!
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GrauerWolf Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
No Problem! ^^
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sphingosine Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2012
Hey hey bud!!
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blanklogo Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2012  Professional Photographer
oh, it's you!
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sphingosine Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2012
:o
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blanklogo Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2012  Professional Photographer
hiiiiiii :)
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ReiRobin Featured By Owner May 7, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hello there, one of your work has been featured in our group journal right here!
Thank you so much for creating such lovely work, we love it very much! ^^
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