Well friends, C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo) is back. And since it was my third round, I finally decided to buy a photo with famous guests. During my last two visits, it has been evident that the photo and autograph sessions are one of the big draws of the weekend event. I mean, who wouldn’t love the chance to meet a favorite actor, writer, or artist? The sessions are split between photos and autographs and I must say that it seems that C2E2 has organized this well for the celebrities and the participants.
So, who did I choose for my first photo experience? I’m glad you asked! I actually bought a team photo with three celebrity guests: Moses Ingram, Rupert Friend and Vivien Lyra Blair. This particular trio was most recently seen on the Disney+ series Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi like Reva (The Third Sister), The Grand Inquisitor and young Leia Organa. I was intrigued by the idea of a photo with the Inquisitors, but ultimately decided to save my money. Then C2E2 emailed me that Vivien had been added as one of the photo/autograph guests. Digging deeper, I discovered the team photo, and having fallen in love with Vivien’s portrayal of my favorite Star Wars character, I decided to give it a go.
Let’s be clear, this is not a cheap deal. The initial photo (which I received on the spot) cost $160 and the price varies depending on the celebrities invited. Additional prints were $10 each, and a JPEG sent to your email also costs $10. In my limited research, this seems to be the standard cost for additional photos, regardless of celebrity. I decided I wanted a digital copy and added the JPEG bringing my total to $170…but we’re not done yet. There’s also an administration fee – $10.20 for me – plus taxes for the physical photo – 10.25% (percentage) amounting to $18.47 – and my grand total ended up being $198.67. The total cost and breakdown was shown to me before I charged my credit card so I knew in advance what I would be paying. Still, I was not thrilled with nearly $30 in taxes and fees.
Autographs vs photos
It’s also worth noting that photos are separate from autographs, and while many celebrities do both, they’re set at different times, have their own price tag, and each celebrity has their own rules about what can be signed, whether whether or not. guests cannot take selfies/photos during the autograph session, etc. There is a portal/shop on the C2E2 site where guests can select multiple photo and autograph sessions with their favorite celebrities and pay at the same time.
The services are provided courtesy of Epic Photo Ops, and in my experience, their platform was very user-friendly. After making my purchase, I received near-instant confirmation, an order number, and a QR code to present during my session. A few days later, when the celebrity schedule was confirmed, I was emailed a group number, time, and a list of instructions and rules. It was stated that we cannot have extended conversations with the celebrities and that up to 4 people could be in the photo. I also chose to sign up to receive an SMS notification that would be sent 15 minutes before the photo.
The photography experience
As requested, I received my SMS alert and headed to the back (and I mean the back) of the showroom. I joined my queue and waited my turn. When the time came, an Epic Photo employee scanned my QR code and let me and several others in. There were two shelves where we could put our bags, gear and anything else we didn’t want in the picture and then dropped off for the pictures. Let me tell you, that line moved so quickly and before I knew it, I was up! I only spent about 10 seconds with the trio, just enough time to make eye contact, shake Rupert’s hand, congratulate them on the streak, and smile for my picture. It was blurry (the experience, not the photo, thankfully), but it was fun. I went out to collect my 8×10 photo and complete my experience. After locating my photo, another employee scanned my QR code as well as the small barcode on the photo. And that was it! As I walked away, I checked my emails and sure enough, the digital copy was waiting in my inbox.
Was it worth it?
This is a great question that only every person can answer. Is it worth taking a photo with actors and artists you care about? Can you put a price tag on nostalgia or your current obsession? More importantly, what about having well-known artists interact with hundreds or even thousands of fans in any given weekend and making every one of those encounters special? ?
I wish I could have spoken to the trio for a few moments, but overall, I’m glad to even have this opportunity to meet them. I’ll continue to be selective about future photo shoots, but chances are that if the stars align again at another expo or convention and the price fits my budget, I’ll shell out money for a meeting with a celebrity… and I will do it with a smile!
C2E2 2022 takes place August 5-7 in Chicago. The 2023 event is scheduled for March 31 through April 2.