From Furries to Abraham Lincolns: See inside the Weird and Wonderful World of Conventions you Never Knew Existed

The unusual world of fan events and conferences can see rooms full of mermen, pirates, Santa Clauses and even Abraham Lincolns

Dressing up as favoured characters has long been a trapping of comic book fans – but it’s not just comic cons where the attendees bring out their costumes .

Of nearly two million conventions, conferences, and trade shows each year in the United States, those with a passion in common come wearing intricately planned costumes that reflect their interests.

From mermaids and mermen to furries, from Santas to fetishists, this offers hobbyists a platform to share their fandom with hundreds of like-minded individuals – and, thanks to American photographer Arthur Drooker , with us.

Snapper Drooker’s travelled across the US to ten of the quirkiest conventions he can find and chronicled the results in his new book, Conventional Wisdom.

Venturing behind the scenes, Drooker goes deep into the heart of these often zany subsets of American popular culture where for a weekend each year, the outside world no longer exists.

Arthur DrookerMr. D and friend, Vent Haven ConVENTion, Hebron, Kentucky
Mr D and friend at the Vent Haven ConVENTion for ventriloquists in Hebron, Kentucky in 2015

His camera artfully captures the sense of community, culture, and connection thatembodies these events where people from all walks of life and around the world, are free to explore what they term their ‘outer selves’ without fear of being judged.

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Drooker’s humorous and insightful text, including intimate interviews with attendees, complement the vibrant photographs made from 2013 until 2015.

In his introduction, Drooker writes: “After immersing myself for more than a year in these wildly diverse gatherings, I emerged with some unconventional wisdom: While Americans like to promote themselves as rugged individualists, they’re happiest when amongst their own and accepted for who they really are.

Arthur DrookerHail to the Chiefs, Association of Lincoln Presenters, Natchez, Mississippi 2014
Hail to the Chiefs the Association of Lincoln Presenters snapped in Natchez, Mississippi in 2014
DrookerBeard Bleaching
A Santa Claus undergoes beard bleaching as pals watch on at a Father Christmas convention

“Nowhere is this wisdom more openly revealed and joyfully observed than at conventions.”

Conventional Wisdom proves that regardless of what they’re about, where they’re held, or who attends them, all conventions satisfy the basic human urge – to belong.

Those who share similar interests, even obsessions, come together to be themselves, while forging new relationships and joining a larger community.

Arthur DrookerZoo, Anthrocon, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2014
The Zoo at Anthrocon – the world’s largest convention for those fascinated with anthropomorphics – held in Pittsburgh in 2014

From the ballrooms to the vendor rooms to the guest rooms, Drooker’s ubiquitous camera documents the essence and exuberance of these annual gatherings.

An attendee Drooker met at the taxidermist convention expressed it best: “This isn’t a convention. It’ s a family reunion.”

Conventional Wisdom is published by Glitterati available on Amazon.


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