Dragon*Con Guide: Celebrity Photo Ops and Autographs

Updated: July 2014

I always see a lot of questions related to media guests/celebrities. Having an opportunity to meet some of my TV icons was what originally brought me to con in the first place, so let me clear up some FAQs.

PLEASE be aware any of the guests can cancel their appearance at the last minute due to work or scheduling conflicts!

Bad Time

Autographs

Practically all media guests charge a fee to sign something. It usually starts from $15 for lesser known people, and can get quite pricey for the big names. Most of them have tables in the Walk of Fame,  the Marquis ballroom in the Marriott for 2013. Each table will have its own line for fans to wait in. There’s typically a handler/agent beside the guest that handles the money and plays bad guy to deny certain inappropriate fan requests. What you’re paying for is the autograph on an item of your choice, but if you didn’t bring something there are complimentary 8×10 headshots. The Walk of Fame hours are basically 10am-7pm (except it starts at 1pm on Friday). Most media guests will in there to sign unless they have a panel or are going to eat.

Ray Park signing autographs.

Autograph prices are not posted on the main website. Your best bet is to research forums pertaining to that guest, or seeing if other conventions list prices (I know MegaCon and the Wizard World ones do).

Side Note: While you can technically go up to a guest’s table and talk to them for free, their handler may give you the evil eye or rush you along. A few guests are also said to be jerks about it if you don’t buy an autograph. As a precaution and just as a token of my appreciation for that person’s work, I’ll generally fork out money for an auto so that I can have a nice conversation with them in peace.

Photo-ops

Photos are a little bit more complicated, and it depends entirely on the guest.

1. Some will not allow any photography at all in the Walk of Fame at their table. Can’t snap a candid of them signing, not one of them smiling for your camera, and certainly not a posed pic with you and the guest.

2. Some will allow you to take a picture OF them, but not WITH them. #1 and #2 apply to bigger names who have a contract with the professional photographers who work the convention (usually Froggy’s photos). In this case, you need to either buy the pre-sale pictures from the photographer’s website (AVAILABLE NOW!), or buy a photo-op ticket on site. I’d suggest on site for 2 reasons. One, because the refund process for last minute cancellations can get tricky. Two, the schedule with times for each celebrity is not posted until about a week prior to con and you may have conflicting events. However, a very popular guest may sell out once in a blue moon, so keep that in mind.

A professional photo op with Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk.

A professional photo op with Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk.

3. Some will allow you to take a picture WITH them at the table, but will charge a fee. It’s often cheaper than the professional photographer’s fee because it’s not being split between parties. Some guests will do both—pics with your camera, as well as pics with the photographers.

A photo with Edward James Olmos using my camera.

A photo with Edward James Olmos using my camera.

Side note: People have a lot of hate mail for Froggy, but they’ve always been nice to me. Valid complaints against them can include customer service or slow e-mail response. But things out of their control are equipment failure or late guest arrivals. You also can’t help the rapid rate at which they move people along, because there’s no other way to fit in 100 people wanting a picture with Joe Celebrity within a 15 minute span. There are guests lined up from 10am-7pm and they have to stay on schedule. If you want to talk to the celebrity or give them a gift, do that at their table. The photo area is just for a quick hello and a photograph.

Pro Tip (Monday Morning Special):

– By Monday morning, most guests have 1) already left or 2) are still hungover in their room. However, a select few will show up in the Walk of Fame and this is your best chance to get an auto or photo with your camera for a discounted fee. Not a guarantee but it never hurts to ask politely and try to haggle a bit. You may also get a longer than usual conversation with them. I’ve gotten a photo with Star Trek: TNG people for $10 when they normally charge $40 with Froggy.

Will xxx be coming this year? / How can I get xxx to come to Dragon*Con?

– First, check the guest list page. Other than that, no one knows in advance except for the directors and staff that are in charge of booking guests. If you want a particular individual to come, try to get a hold of them via snail mailing their agents or social networking pages and get them to fill out a guest application.

What if you run into a celebrity in the hallway?

– Depends on the guest. If they’re drinking at the bar and having a good time, they’ll probably be in a good mood and oblige a photo request or talk to you for a bit. If they’re eating with their friends, it’s probably rude to interrupt them. I just say hello or wave if I walk by someone I recognize. They’re just trying to enjoy the con like everyone else and I don’t want to get in their way.

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3 thoughts on “Dragon*Con Guide: Celebrity Photo Ops and Autographs

  1. I have two questions. 1) Do we HAVE to buy a professional photo-op with the guest if we simply want to get an autograph (and hopefully a picture using our own camera)? If so, are the costs of just an autograph usually cheaper? and 2) Does the price of the professional picture from Froggy include an autograph as well?

  2. 1) No you don’t, Froggy’s photos and autographs are two very separate things. Froggy ONLY does photos, and it’s located outside of the Walk of Fame. All the fans for a particular guest line up in a room at a specific time. Once the actor is ready, you start taking your photos, say hi, and it’s over within 10 seconds. 2) If you want just an auto, you got to the actor’s table in the Walk of Fame. Likewise, if you want to see if that actor allows photos with your own camera, you go to their table and see if there are signs posted with the prices for each service. I’ve found that most autos and photos with your camera tend to be cheaper, since it doesn’t have to be split between the celeb and Froggy’s company. It does add up to get an auto and a photo with a guest, which is why I’ve leaned more and more towards photos. Only time I get an auto nowadays is to chat a little longer with that guest. I hope that all makes sense!

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