The Ulitmate Location Guide – Washington State Convention Center

Washington State Convention Center is the home to some of the biggest conventions in the Pacific Northwest, including famed conventions like ECCC, Sakura-Con, and Pax Prime. Located near the heart of downtown Seattle, the convention center is conveniently located right next to Freeway Park, one of the most used locations for cosplay photography. Together, they provide a wide variety of backdrop options for photographers to explore and utilize.

Like many conventions, attendees from all over the world travel far to come enjoy these conventions, and while there are many tools available online for remote location research and scouting, we as photographers can all use a little guidance every now and then. Therefore, to make your job a little easier as a cosplay photographer traveling to WSCC from near or afar, we present to you the Ultimate Location Guide – Seattle Convention Center edition, based from my 6 years of cosplay photography experience at this location, to help you find cosplay photo shoot locations easier and faster. Intrigued? Let’s start by getting you a copy of the WSCC floor plan.

1st Floor

1st floor primarily houses the WSCC main lobby, a host of restaurants, shops, and a theater. Lots of foot traffic happens here and is difficult to clear enough space for a photo shoot, but there are a couple neat / different options you can consider.

Office Tower Elevator Lobby

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Rarely used by cosplayers and often clear of people, this spot has beautiful lighting and modern installations which can help with the mood of the photos. As this is considered a primary corridor, portable setup is recommended as to not block normal usage.

Indian Head Statue

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Located near the information desk, this statue provides a distinctly different backdrop for photos. While this area is often occupied, this statue may help add a different look to your tight portraits and the like.

2nd Floor

The ends of this level are some of the best photo shoot locations in and around the convention center. The International Meeting Place end gets a lot of food traffic, but across the hall around North Galleria rests some very neat spots that not only have much fewer traffic, but more shooting space as well.

IMP Courtyard

Outside the International Meeting Place is a courtyard consisting a cool bell, grand stairs, and a large open area with many different cool spots. Just around the corner you are bestowed with the view of down Union street. If you are adventurous, a slight walk west will lead you to another building’s corridor where you can see Eagles Auditorium in all of its glory.

North Galleria Escalator

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Beneath the escalators are these beautiful lights that give off a very nice mood. The area is sometimes occupied, and elevating cosplayers using the furniture is cautioned, so plan accordingly.

North Galleria Balcony

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Seldom used, the balcony is a great place if you want street views or an undisturbed area for photo shoot. The pillars also come in handy as very simple and plain backdrops.

3rd Floor

3F tends to have less things happening and subsequently less foot traffic, and its North Galleria is a large and relatively quiet space for you to work with cosplayers.

North Galleria Windows & Decorations

Of all 4 floors, 3F North Galleria has the least amount of traffic, making it the most ideal area for photo shoots if large open windows are useful to you. There are some decently large art works appropriate as backdrops, do respect other artists work and photograph responsibly.

4th Floor

4F is the heart of the convention center where the majority of the action happens. This level is full of great backdrop options, but at the same time also very crowded throughout the convention period and may prove a difficult place to shoot if you wish to have a nice and clean backdrop until you venture outdoor into Freeway Park.

4C

Near area 4C there are 3 large backdrops that have stayed consistent for the past several years. The gray wall and white rolling door are simple backdrops. Lighting setup is recommended to overpower the ambient light, and while they sometimes are occupied by people resting, with good timing you may find them available to do a simple setup. Additionally, you can also find a large art piece that can function as a quick backdrop for photos.

South Lobby

One of the largest space in the convention center, this area has a very unique ceiling and walls where you can utilize as backdrops. Note that the lobby tends to get very high foot traffic, so very low angle shooting is recommended if you wish to avoid people in the background.

Grand Staircase

The east end of South Lobby is the grand staircase. Its close proximity makes it an ideal place to do quick photo shoots, but be aware of people resting and passerby who decided they want to climb the stairs instead of taking the escalators.

Skybridge

At skybridge, you are right above Pike Street, so not only would you get a great view, but the structure is also pretty magnificent. The bridge has very high traffic, but it is still possible to utilize low angle shooting to capture the grand structure without too much distraction in the background.

Freeway Park

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Some of the best cosplay photo shoot locations within the WSCC / Freeway Park combo are located outside of the convention center. The Ellis Plaza is heavily used by cosplayers, but you can find amazing space and backgrounds with just a short hike (3-5 minutes) away from there.

Ellis Plaza East Walkway

My personal favorite, the walkway east of Ellis Plaza have multiple simple backdrops for your choosing. This area gets occasional passerby but overall quiet and unobtrusive by most photographers, a most excellent place for you to take advantage of (until now).

Foliage

The park is full of grass, plants, and trees along the concrete paths. with the amount available in the park, you should have little trouble finding spots free of people. Concrete walls are another matter, so further scouting with your available equipment is recommended.

8th Ave Under Path

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You will come across this area around the south end of the park. The walls are simple and the area tends to attract very little foot traffic, and being under the bridge provides an excellent covered photo shoot location if inside the convention center gets too crowded.

Walls

Freeway Park is full of concrete walls that provide a simple yet effective backdrops for your photo shoot needs. You will find some covered with vines which you may find suitable for your photo shoot(s).

Freeway Park Fountain

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8 out of 10 photographers you ask will tell you the fountain is one of the most used locations in Freeway Park. The unique structure is both massive and treacherous, but provides many backdrop options within. Aside from its relative remoteness (~5 minutes walk from the convention center), it also gets swarmed by cosplayers and photographers alike from time to time, so creative framing is still very relevant when shooting at this location.

The Columns

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The columns are visible from the fountain and belong to another property outside of the park. If you are feeling adventurous, you may find this area clear of foot traffic and provides a somewhat desolated feel to your photographs.

5th Floor

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There is very little available space on the 5th floor in the main WSCC building. Most foot traffic are from passerby, and you will have relatively ease using the only seating area for setup shoots without much disturbance so long you can find it unoccupied.

6th Floor

6th floor has a huge space and some very low foot traffic areas for photo shoots, depending on the convention layout. While this level sports a modern-yet-vanilla convention center look, it is rarely used and an often forgotten space ripe for the taking.

West Lobby

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If you have to pick a spot to shoot on the 6th floor, West Lobby is your best bet. People do pass by often but the space is large enough where you can easily grab a corner to do setup shoots. With a very tight crop, you can also utilize the available large art piece as a decorative backdrop.

Addendum

There are a few more interesting spots around convention center / Freeway Park. Heading east from 2F will take you to a little courtyard fountain that some local photographers have used to their advantage. You are technically trespassing, so proceed with caution.

At the corner of Boren and Pike, you will find Plymouth Pillars Park which may serve as another good photo shoot location, if your cosplayer(s) don’t mind a little more hike up the hill. The pillars are an interesting sight, and will definitely add some uniqueness to your photos.

Additionally, from 3F you can access the WSCC parking garage, which is also an excellent photo shoot location for dark and creepy photo shoots.

Venturing Forth

This guide aims to provide you with the most comprehensive list of interesting cosplay photo shoot locations, in and around WSCC. Of course, there are still many neat corners and backdrops many photographers have used to create exceptional photos, it is our hope that you will find this guide as an excellent starting point for your photo shoot scouting needs.

To help this guide be as complete as possible, we are always keeping our ears peeled. If you know of a great photo shoot locations / backdrops / tidbits, please feel free to share that info with us and the community in the comment section below.

Now venture forth, and happy shooting!

If you found this article interesting, be sure to join our Facebook group, Cosplay Photography Discussion Group. It is a place for cosplay photographers of all levels to learn from each other. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook as well!

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I am a Seattle, WA based lifestyle fashion photographer who has Cosplay to thank for his adventure into the photography world. In addition to fashion, I also maintain Costographer as my cosplay work outlet: http://facebook.com/costographer

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