This year, I attended both MCM Comic Con's in London and Birmingham, and whilst I loved both, they felt like very different events.
I'm going to break down the conventions into a few pros/cons and then make a few comments - so hopefully if you're stuck for choice this will help you decide.
Most of my comments here will be from a photography perspective so please bear that in mind.
MCM London 2021
London MCM Pros:
- Space outside and not too busy (especially on Friday)
- Loads of cosplayers and space to choose from
- Met a few photographers outside and managed to catch up
- Lots of shoots in a shorter time frame
London MCM Cons:
- Not many inside spaces to shoot with good lighting
- Harder to find people
I booked slots for this con, expecting this to be less popular as I knew some people were avoiding the con due to Covid concerns. I couldn't have been more wrong however and I was DELIGHTED to have around 35 people/groups booked in for shoots over the weekend, with more promising to find me! Booked shoots are great but they're not for everyone as it does restrict the amount of time you have for yourself to wander/grab people you see for shoots. If you're someone who likes to shoot on the fly, I'd give yourself enough time to wander and find the people you want to.
On the Saturday and Sunday of con, I went into the trees in the morning for a few shoots and literally couldn't move more than a couple of steps all day for people coming up to ask me for shoots! This was absolutely amazing and means more to me then I can explain. Not only does it mean that I have loads of fun shooting with you guys, but also, I try to be as open as possible inviting new and older cosplayers to work with me, by encouraging you all to approach me, so the fact that you do is incredible to me! Thank you so much for putting so much faith in me to shoot your amazing cosplays, or even just to stop and have a chat.
My MCM London Top Tip: If you want great photos with fewer people, the outside area starts to empty around 3.30/4.00 but there are still loads of great and seasoned cosplayers wandering around outside, looking for photographers. You're much more likely to get your 'people-free' tree shot at this time in the evening, plus the dimmer light means less green glare from the trees on the models face!
MCM London Charlotte Tip: I tend to head straight outside when I get to con, and normally I'm outside for a couple of hours before my booked slots start so I can shoot whoever I'm attending with. If you want to grab me while your cosplays/makeup looks fresh - that's a great time to grab me! Plus it's more empty so the photos tend to be a bit more free with space :p
MCM Birmingham 2021
Birmingham MCM Pros:
- Inside spaces to shoot (technically just outside con boundaries, upstairs)
- Photographers were all in one location to socialise
- Didn't book slots so more free time to chat to people!
Birmingham MCM Cons:
- No large natural outside areas to shoot (near the con)
- Inside the con was FAR TOO CRAMPED and busy
- less natural to grab people for shoots as they have to come with you to a location.
I didn't book slots for Birmingham and that made it easier for me to actually get to chat to people that I wanted to catch-up with, as well as take some people for some more creative shoots. It was nice to be able to shoot when I wanted, and to not feel so rushed, and it was a deserved break in the rush from after MCM London!
I have to say I only went inside the actual con for about 20 minutes, and I wasn't a fan - it was way too dark and super crowded, with very little space to enjoy anything or hear anyone.
From a photography perspective as well, for someone like me who uses natural lighting, and normally natural backgrounds, it was a little bit of a learning curve. I think I was one of the few photographers in the upstairs area NOT using a little LED or speed light and so it forced me to be more creative with it - BUT don't let that put you off! It's still perfectly possible to make it work (see the gorgeous @sinningwold as Valkyrie below)
My MCM Birmingham Top Tip: The inside area of the con was so crowded that I actually found a lot of people hanging out outside the Wetherspoons area, where it was quieter, and people could actually shoot/chill! Plus there are more places to shoot there without there being people in your shot :p
MCM Birmingham Charlotte Tip: I don't tend to book for Birmingham as I get really confused about how the halls work... So, if you want to shoot, drop me a message as there's a much higher chance that I'll be with my phone and able to meet up with you to shoot!
Overall, I think that for high volume of shooting and socialising, it'll come to a surprise to no-one that MCM London has the edge on space and variety of shooting locations. However, I did enjoy being able to meet more photographers that I haven't met before at Birmingham so in future I think I'll keep that as my social photography con!
Let me know what you guys think about shooting at the cons - which is your favourite?