The U.S. meetings industry, according to a Convention Industry Council study, directly supports 1.7 million jobs, $263 billion in spending, and $14.3 billion in federal tax revenue. As impressive as these figures are, they don’t interest me as a photographer. I see conventions not as revenue sources but as visual treasures. To me, they’re unique expressions of community, culture and connection. That’s why over the next year I plan to attend about a dozen conventions—the more unusual and photogenic the better—and document them for a proposed book, Conventional Wisdom. I will update this portfolio as the project progresses. At the same time, I will preview the work in a series of reports on Cool Hunting, a cultural trend website. To view these reports, please click
on the list below.
So far, the wisdom I've gained from this project has shown me that regardless of what they're about, where they're held or who attends them, all conventions satisfy a basic human urge: a longing for belonging. At conventions, people who share similar interests, even obsessions, come together to bond and to be themselves. The outside world doesn't matter. In fact, for the weekend duration of most conventions, the outside world doesn't even exist. The conventioneers have each other and that's all they need. An attendee I met at the taxidermist convention put it best. "This isn't a convention," he said. "It's a family reunion."
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• Cool Hunting Report #6 (Clowns)
• Cool Hunting Report #5 (Reenactors)
• Cool Hunting Report #4 (Bronies)
• Cool Hunting Report #3 (Ventriloquists)
• Cool Hunting Report #2 (Taxidermists)
• Cool Hunting Report #1 (Lincolns)