For the next installment of our series featuring fandom artists we spoke with Megan – better known as the brilliant photographer behind Stardust & Melancholy. Megan is an amazing photographer who may be best known for the way she has captured incredible moments at Supernatural conventions over the years. Her work is even featured on the website of the host of the Supernatural conventions Creation Entertainment.
I was lucky enough to talk with Megan a bit about her photography and have she shared some insight as to what goes on behind her lens.
How long have you been doing photography?
I started in high school (a long time ago) and was going to do it in college, but it was too expensive at the time. It was only when I started going to conventions in 2011-2012 that I started doing it again after such a long break, and even then for the first six months it wasn’t serious.
Your photos have become pretty popular-and definitely recognizable-especially within the Supernatural fan base and the Supernatural convention circuit. How did that all start? What originally inspired you to start the con photography?
I feel so shy about all that! I feel like to people it seems like it happened overnight but it really didn’t. I’ve been photographing Supernatural cons since 2012, and there were years when no one paid attention to what I was doing. There weren’t many people photographing cons when I started, and the people who were were so talented and so, so good that I thought I wouldn’t get anywhere. But I didn’t give up, and kept trying to improve and learn as much as I could in between the cons. When I wasn’t physically doing photography I was reading about it, or asking questions, or teaching myself editing.
It’s the one thing in my life that I am resolutely unwilling to give up or compromise on, which I think concerns people sometimes.
At cons what equipment are you usually using?
I’ve been using a Canon 5D MK III for a few years. I have a 70-300mm f4-5.6 which I use at pretty much every convention. I have smaller portrait lenses, but the 70-300mm is the best one I have for cons. Convention lighting is not ideal and it takes quite a lot of experimenting over time to make it work.
There’s always this old-school perception that you should “get it right in camera” but the way you have little to no control over con lighting doesn’t allow that to happen. A huge part of con photography is editing afterwards.
The Supernatural conventions that Creation Entertainment does are typically three days with panels during the days, karaoke Friday night, and the concert on Saturday night. Which of those events are typically your favorite to photograph?
My favorite thing to shoot is definitely the Louden Swain Saturday Night Special. Everything is fun to shoot, but there’s something about the concert that brings out more in the people performing. There’s a vulnerability there that you don’t often see with a panel, or with karaoke where they are just goofing around and having fun. Louden Swain is an incredible band to begin with, but for some reason we’ve just ended up with a cast that is pretty much entirely musically gifted. They all play multiple instruments or sing. But even if they don’t, they feel comfortable enough to try, and I think that’s a huge indication of how supportive the cast and band is of each other but also how supportive and encouraging we are as an audience. There’s a passionate transfer that happens there that you will rarely get anywhere else. It’s honestly something you have to see to believe.We’ve seen you do some fantastic shoots with the Supernatural cast outside of the conventions – Matt Cohen, Tim Omundson, Osric Chau, Misha Collins and most recently Kim Rhodes – just to name a few. Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like to work with the cast? The styles of the shoots were very different and in different settings each time. Do you have a favorite location or shoot that you did with one of the cast? What is your favorite part of working with them away from the con setting? Is there anyone in the Supernatural convention line up you haven’t done a separate shoot with that you’d like to?
I don’t know how that’s come to happen! I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do it. I think it was because I started doing cosplay shoots for Osric Chau. Our first one was in Burbank in 2014, and every con I’ve been to since then in some way I have done a shoot with him, except for this last BurCon in 2016, which made me sad!
A lot of it with the shoots and locations is luck and timing and what people are comfortable with. They are all amazing, encouraging people and very easy to work with. I would work with anyone again, because each time I’m doing it I’m getting a bit more confident so I would be able to do it more justice the next time. I find them all so fascinating and want to show them in the best way that I can. Osric especially has helped me a lot, and I’ll always be grateful to him for that.
The most freaked out one without exception is always me.
Most recently, you did a fierce photo shoot with Kim Rhodes cosplaying Furiosa. Can you tell us a bit about how that collaboration came to life? Was there any particular reason for the choice of Furiosa? What was your favorite part of working with Kim?
That actually just came about because I tweeted I think she would make an amazing Furiosa. I couldn’t believe it hadn’t been thought of or done before? With her look and her attitude it just seemed so natural to me. She responded on Twitter that she would do it, but I thought it was one of those things that we just say on twitter and that it wouldn’t happen because she’s so busy. And I never presume people actually want to do the weird things I think up, I’m always thinking up shoots I would do with this cast.
But she did actually want to do it, which was so cool! I love Kim so much.
If given the opportunity are there any other celebrities that you’d like to work with?
So many! Hugh Dancy, James McAvoy, Gillian Anderson, Mads Mikkelsen, Daniel Radcliffe, Sebastian Stan. Different people for different reasons.
Are there any other photographers who personally inspire you or whose work inspires you?
Again, so many! Christopher Schmelke, Maarten de Boer, Annie Leibovitz, Sarah Dunn, Victoria Will.
Do you have any advice, tips, tricks or words of wisdom for other photographers/aspiring photographers?
Photography is not an easy thing to do, but it’s worth it. I still compare myself to other people, and I still think to myself ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘why aren’t I more like such and such?’, but finding a style and a voice of your own is one of the hardest but most important parts about photography that will make you stand out. It’s the same with all art, if you are true to yourself it will speak to people.
I’ve always felt that if you can still love something even when you hate it, then you should keep doing it. Even when nothing is going right and I’m looking at everything I’ve taken at a con and I want to throw away my camera, I still love photography and don’t want to do anything else. I think I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
Do you have an online store where we can buy your prints?
I’m limited in what I can sell, but I do have some prints for sale on my Society6 store! https://society6.com/stardustandmelancholy
If you have suggestions for future fandom artists you would like for us to consider featuring, email firstname.lastname@example.org.