The CONvergence convention in Bloomington has become one of Minnesota’s biggest and 2015 was my fourteenth year in attendance. This massive gathering of the area’s nerdiest has always had a special place in my heart.
CONvergence (or simply CON to those who attend) was the very first convention that I had ever attended (we’re not counting the couple of hours in the 90’s I spent in a line waiting to get Michael Dorn’s autograph at the Convention Center) and I was absolutely blown away by how big it was, how fun it was, and how many people there got me. I’ll always remember my second year there. 5am. Sitting in a big tent. Ambient music playing nearby. There were maybe nine of us crammed in there, all arguing passionately about whether there should be new seasons of Doctor Who made or if the series had run its course. (I was right, there absolutely should be, and it hadn’t.) I thought, “Why can’t every day be like this?”
My career in photography owes its origins to CONvergence. I had always loved taking photos but it was something I only did for fun with friends occasionally. Not something to be taken seriously. Plus film was expensive. In 2006, I decided an upgrade was in order so I picked up my first digitalSLR, the Nikon D50. Holding that camera now, it feels like a toy, but back then it was the most amazing piece of kit I had ever owned. It was worth more than my car. Bringing it to CON I felt like a real badass as I drunkenly wandered the corridors of the Radisson/Sheraton/Doubletree (the lease seems to change hands every two years) hotel and took photos of all the fantastic cosplays I saw.
This led to me becoming the “wedding photographer” for a Klingon-officiated wedding late one night, the photos from which convinced the couple in question that I was the photographer for their actual wedding held just a month later. My very first wedding, and an extremely geeky one at that! Since then, nearly every client I’ve worked with has been a regular attendee of CON, many of whom I met while at the convention itself. CON took me from a guy who took photos occasionally at parties to becoming an internationally published professional photographer who hasn’t had a “day job” in years.
This also means that the vast majority of my friends today are directly CON- related. When I think about the people closest to me, including my wife, I’m not sure that I would have met any of them if it hadn’t been for CON and the way it pushed my photography from a passion to a career.
It is not without the occasional pitfalls, the 5 hour registration line of death from two years ago comes to mind, but overall CONvergence is one of the happiest, most welcoming, wonderful events in the world and it’s helped shape who I am. What an amazing thing.