Jason Ernst is a common sight at Midwest conventions, however you’ve probably seen more of his camera than him. You only get brief glimpses of him as he sets up equipment and positions people for shots.
If you haven’t seen him, then odds are pretty good that you’ve seen some of photos, as he is Chicagoconpics.
As is normally the case, Jason’s photos from DragonCon caught my attention. He and his partner Kirsten took hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures that are insanely good. Here are a few I snatched, but you can find all of the albums for ChicagoConPics here.
PopCultHQ – When did you start Chicago Con Pics?
ChicagoConPics (Jason): I started shooting conventions at ACen in or around 2007, either for my personal pages, under the whdphoto name or with a friend as press under his name in 2007. I changed the convention and cosplay photos over to the ChicagoConPics logo in 2010.
PopCultHQ – When did Kirsten join you as a photographer?
ChicagoConPics (Jason): Kirsten has been assisting and now shooting with me and on her own at conventions under the ChicagoConPics banner since ConAltDelete 2016, growing as a photographer and learning the ins and outs of costography along the way. It’s been fantastic having her as a pose coach and assistant for staged shots, second shooter and badge checker at groups, and now, shooting solo and doubling what I’d be able to cover alone.
PopCultHQ – I see you’ve been doing Dragon Con for a few years. What was your first Dragon Con?
ChicagoConPics (Jason): I knew Zadok Manny Comacho from outside the con scene and he had been trying for at least a year to get me to go down. That year, the two of us rode down together, and even with the loss of my camera on the trip (and a few unpleasant incidents the 2 or 3 years following), the creative, crazy, fun atmosphere of the con drew me back in (and encouraged me to invite others, we’ve gone from 1 photographer and 1 cosplayer in a little car, to 6 chicago cosplayers and 2 photographers in a 15 passenger van).
PopCultHQ – As a photographer, what is the one thing that stands out about Dragon Con?
ChicagoConPics (Jason): The big group shoots, more specifically the quality of the costumes and costumers that come out for them. We’ve even started helping direct and organize a couple of them, my first and favorite we help run every year is the GI Joe group.
PopCultHQ – I know you cover a LOT of conventions. Do you do anything different for Dragon than you do for other conventions?
ChicagoConPics (Jason): Other than cram myself in a van with 7 other people and their costumes for 15 hours? Yes. Focus on the groups. This year we helped run 3: GI Joe, Marvel Cinematic Universe TV (season 2…last year it was only Netflix shows), and the big nonspecific Star Wars group. I plan and organize, and keep shot lists and ideas in mind, starting a month or 2 out for these. Other cons, I tend to wander more, and pick up more hallway shots.
That is a huge undertaking, but he does a fantastic job of it. Here are a few of the group shots he took: