San Jose McEnery Convention Center: Best Places To Photograph

Are you a photographer? Do you go to FanimeCon or Big Wow Comicfest? Not sure where to do your photo shoots at during the convention? Well this guide will help you get started with some interesting locations that will cover your scouting needs, whether the character’s story takes place in a forest, requires a more modern setting, or even a classy living room look. The newly remodeled  San Jose McEnery Convention Center and surrounding areas will satify almost all your photoshoot setting needs within a very easy-to-travel 1-3 block radius.

Now let’s get started with each location:

1. Convention Main Entrance

1 Main Entrance

The first spot is the closest location on this guide to the convention center because it’s actually located at the front entrance of the convention center. Now this location contains a few areas. One being the woodbark/tree line section which is a popular location for photographers who want to stay as close to the convention center as possible. Please be aware that this place tends to get crowded with con goers, cosplayers, and other photographers as the shade makes for a nice rest area as well as soft diffused light. With creative angles and framing you can avoid catching any unwanted people in your shot. This area also includes “The Wall”; A nice stretch of concrete wall that many photographers like for its simplicity. The front area of the convention center doesn’t just offer that section to shoot at. Over on the other side, you also have access to the upper balcony section of the new expansion to the convention center. The lower portion has a newly designed wall covered in metal paneling that would be great  for more industrial type shoots. And finally, at the very front of the convention center is a new art structure, stairs, and planter area that we’re excited to see what people do with.

2. The Civic Auditorium (City National Civic)

2 Civic Auditorium

The Civic Auditorium is fairly close to the convention center, since it’s right across the street. This location mostly just contains some nice pillars that you can use as your backdrop, and can be used for a variety of characters. Be sure to use angles, and proper framing if you don’t want to get the street, or even the convention center in your background. This section is shaded most of the day and provides very good light from the street side.

3. Fairmont Park a.k.a. Plaza de Cesar Chaves

3 Fairmont Park

This section right next to the Civic Auditorium, or right across from the Fairmont Hotel. If you’re looking for a more park-themed setting then this place is perfect for you. It contains trees, benches, and even a fountain. Be aware since it is a park there will be locals around. Festivals, concerts, and gatherings are frequently held here so there may be additional crowds gathered. You can either wait for them to pass by or use them to your advantage as background characters. This is also where the food trucks like to park, so if you need  a break from the endless shutter clicking and some refreshments, you can also find it here.

4. Sainte Claire Hotel

4 Sainte Claire

Are you looking for a nice, fancy, or vintage look to your photoshoot? The Sainte Claire Hotel is definitely the place for that. It has a very elegant, high class feel to it, and the furniture to match. You’ll also find a white grand piano here to use for your photoshoots as well. Be aware that since this is a hotel there will be normal guest at the hotel so the foot traffic maybe quite heavy, but with enough patience the floor will open up. Just be careful to not intrude on any events that maybe happening there, or onto any guest staying there. Otherwise the hotel doesn’t mind if you shoot there during Fanime hours.

5. The Garage

5 garage

The Garage is connected to the San Jose Convention Center and provides parking for the convention center and adjoining Marriott and Hilton hotels. It is accessible via one of the many doors in the convention center that lead to the garage. This location contains your typical underground garage setting. The lighting is a bit low so you’ll need assistance with either an on camera mounted flash, an off camera flash setup, a camera capable of handling higher ISO settings, or a tripod to support lower shutter speeds to make up for the low light if you plan on shooting more ambient shots. The garage also contains a lot of pipes if you require an industrial look to your shot.

6. Guadeloupe River, and Park

6 Guadeloupe Park and River

The Guadeloupe River Park is an ideal location for your more naturesque type shots. Do note that the whole section isn’t covered in trees, but it has a thick enough tree line where if you use certain angles you can give the appearance of a nice nature shot. This location out of all the locations contains the most variety of places you can shoot. The park also contains a small river, and a road underpass. The foot traffic isn’t as thick here since not many con goers come out to this location since it’s the farthest from the convention center. You will have to deal with a few locals though as people do like to bike or jog through there from time to time. Just be courteous and wait for them to pass. Be aware that some of the areas do require you to travel through some tough terrain.  Make sure your subject is comfortable and capable of getting there without any trouble.

7. Performing Art Center

7 Performing Arts Center

The San Jose Center for the Performing Arts is right near Guadeloupe River and kitty-corner from the Hilton. The building itself has a different look from most of the buildings in the surrounding area. You can use it for more futuristic type characters due to the design. The backside has a nice park setting with tall trees and a bridge that crosses the Guadeloupe River.


So if you and your cosplayers are capable of getting to these locations they can be worth the travel to get there, and your photos will stand out from the rest. Just remember, any location can be used to take photos. It’s pu to you to find the combination of angles, framing, and composition that will complete your photo. These certainly aren’t the only locations around the convention center and if you’re willing to take time to explore, you’re sure to find more unique places for the character you’re photographing. Convention season is kicking into high gear, so get out there and try these locations for some of your upcoming photo shoots!

Do you have a favorite area to shoot in? Let us know in the comments below!

You can find the locations mentioned here in the map below.

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I started back in 2008 doing photography, and I was mostly into landscape photography, and a year later I started getting into Cosplay photography. In early 2012 I decided to start my own photography/art name "OneShotArtist", and I started focusing in getting to know the community at Anime/comic conventions, and I started becoming more serious into my photography, and started setting up specialized off con shoots. I have since converted over to my new photography name RenoBen Photography.


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    Great spots, and I used all of them in my last photo sessions for Fanime Con 2014. Here’s a shot from the bridge behind the performing arts center with Zerggiee cosplay as Nui Harime from Kill La Kill –

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