Each year the Supernatural fandom eagerly awaits the Gag Reel, which captures for all time the antics and bloopers that occurred during the prior season’s filming. Its unedited moments tell the story of what really happens on set. This abbreviated reality show is quite different from the perfected version of the episode an audience sees after multiple takes, precise editing and music and sound track additions deliver the storywriter’s and director’s desired visions.
Convention reports create a similar illusion of perfection. The stunning pictures that have emerged from Supernatural conventions in the past few years have become an art form unto themselves. In the hands of truly talented photographers, the combination of lighting, makeup and superb camera lenses capture images of subjects whose beauty could qualify them to be Greek gods and goddesses, resulted in breathtaking portrayals of the con’s stage shows.
Similar to the edited footage of filming, the best convention pictures that are shared on websites and social media are culled from literally thousands of shots. These final images are cropped and filtered until maybe a dozen masterpieces emerge. As I was sorting through my reel of pictures from the Chicago 2016 Supernatural convention hoping to find a few of these perfect moments , I began to wonder: In addition to the sanitized, edited version of the convention, what if I shared the pre-edited, raw footage - the behind-the-scenes reality of photographing conventions?
The most spontaneous moments of the convention rarely make the final reports. They happen too fast. Either the camera isn’t ready or is pointed in the wrong direction so the moment is missed or off center, or the subject is moving faster than the shutter speed so the image is blurry (well, at least with my skills and camera!). When I realized that I have some truly spontaneous moments captured on film (well, digital memory actually) that you would never see because the shots are – less than perfect, I decided to make my own montage of the "rejects" from the cutting room floor. What resulted is the first ever Supernatural Convention Found Footage Report!
I loosely categorize these ill-fated shots into 3 groups: Almost Perfect Profiles, Laugh Out Loud Moments, and Would-You-PLEASE-Stop-Moving-For-One-Darn-Second Blurs!
The first grouping are the shots I wish I had gotten. A better photographer with a better camera probably would have. Don’t worry, my more serious, traditional convention report will include perfectly clear, well-lit, magical images of these stars. I already have all those pictures identified and separated into a special folder. The "almost" pictures, though, have their own charm. I had three criteria for choosing them: 1) the picture wasn’t perfect, but more importantly 2) it revealed the true personality of the person or people, i.e. it caught them in an unguarded, spontaneous moment, OR 3) the picture told its own story.
The Perfect Profile… Almost
Wait. "Death" ...is ...funny??
Jason Manns is in his element being on stage singing to a packed auditorium.... and "Amara" is charming?
Well, we all know how cute Osric is... like, all the time...
That goes for Matt too.
Beware the Wrath of Chuck!
And the show's leads are gorgeous no matter what they're doing!
Press "Next" for the second group of Spontaneous Moments!
I Can’t Believe You Said That!
The second group of pictures all reflect a common aspect of Supernatural conventions – laughter. Catch you off guard, throw your head back, laughter. It’s nearly impossible to get these pictures to turn out well because neither the performer nor the audience knows the moment is going to happen. When it does, the person’s body is moving so fast, only the best equipment worked by the best photographers (i.e. not me) can get the shot. The moments speak for themselves, though. You can’t help but smile looking at these pics.
The last category of pictures are my absolute favorite shots. I like some of these even more than the perfect shots that will be in my formal convention report because these remind me of the fun that is shared between performers and audience. These are the zany, unpredictable, precious moments that make a Supernatural convention so memorable. To me, these pictures capture the fun; the perfect shots capture the awe. You need both to understand the experience of going to a convention. Most of these pictures would not be as good if they had come out perfectly focused and framed. They are unique because of their composition. I’ve captioned a few to express the memory they awake in me…
The Singing, Dancing and Jammin' Series
The WTF Series
The "I Got Away With It Moment"
followed closely by the "Chuck Needs a Stern Talking-To from the King of Hell" Moment (with Richard too embarrassed to look):
The next series of shots were all taken at Friday night Karaoke. I have no idea why Osric was looking directly at the camera, why he was in perfect light or why he stood motionless while there was chaos on stage all around him. His look, though, freezes the moment in time. Together with the article's header picture (which is of the same moment), they are three of the most bizarre pictures of the weekend.
My Best Friend in the World Series
Ruth calls "Abaddon" during her panel on stage, and Alaina takes the call!
Look very closely... That's Rich's knee under Rob's elbow!
Jeffrey Dean crashes the party and gets a big, squish hug from Jared...
... and a "Yeah, what'd you expect?" from Jensen!
Their comfort with each other is so absolute, they're not even aware they're doing it.
The Moment of a Lifetime Series
Please alert the families of these fans if any of you know them. I have a few pictures I’d love to share with them.
In this world of airbrushed photos, staged media encounters and public relations spins, I thought it was time to show that not everything, nor everyone, is perfect, because real life is not perfect. Sometimes it is messy, and things that happen pass by in a blur. Some of the best moments, though, are spontaneous, fun and very unexpected. Maybe our reporting should be too.
I have not watermarked these pictures because I promised they would be untouched. I can’t imagine anyone would want to steal them but please, PLEASE credit me if they are used elsewhere. I’d love to hear your reactions to my experiment too: “Please Nightsky, just give us the good pics already!” or “This was fun!”?
Thanks for reading!