We all have interests and hobbies from which we derive pleasure, fulfillment, and identity.
Some take these interests to the next level, attending conventions all over the US (and around the world) to meet and discuss their passions with like-minded individuals. From politics to comics, and even websites, people love to form communities, both literal and metaphorical, around their shared interests.
Photographer Yvette Marie Dostatni was drawn to these kinships, and travelling the US to document different conventions, from the banal to the bizarre. Her series, “The Conventioneers,” is a testament to the relationships found in these groups.
“We live in a country that is unique because of not only our character, but our characters,” Dostatni told Business Insider.
Dostatni says she stumbled upon a love for photographing conventions by accident when she was photographing a dog show at McCormick Place in Chicago.
'I saw a gaggle of nuns riding down an escalator surrounded by hordes of tough looking bikers. I decided to follow the nuns instead, and ended up at the Cycle World International (convention),' she says. 'After that, I was hooked. I have been photographing conventions and conventioneers ever since.'
Since then, Dostatni has seen a lot of interesting things, she says, like the Players Ball seen below, a convention for self-proclaimed pimps and their female admirers.
She says one of her favourite moments was when police ironically had to direct traffic so that Snoop Dogg could attend the convention full of pimps.
Another favourite memory was being in 'a room full of over 100 Abe Lincoln look-alikes,' she recalls.
Funny and tender moments can happen at any convention, it seems. Dostatni remembers consoling a distraught Furry convention-goer dressed as a bat.
The bat had lost all of its friends after they had been kicked out of the hotel for 'hanging upside down from the atrium's sixth floor balcony,' Dostatni explains.
'I find conventions through reading newspapers, listening to the radio, and having friends tell me about (them),' Dostatni says. Dostatni says she likes going to wild and unusual conventions, like this meet up for die-hard Godzilla fans...
...as well as 'really dull conventions such as the Korean American Dry Cleaners Convention,' she says, just to see what she finds.
'I believe everyone is looking for a place where they feel they can fit in. Myself included,' she says. Dostatni herself is an avid and dedicated pool player.
Because the internet has made it so much easier for us to connect with like-minded people, Dostatni believes that 'a contemporary periphery of subcultures has come into place,' she says.
'This project explores this current concept of mankind searching for others who are 'just like us',' Dostatni says.
'I sincerely hope that people see themselves in my photography. I know that I have been to quite a few outlandish places, but I want people to recognise their own innate search for self-hood,' Dostatni says.
She continues: 'We are blessed to live in a relatively strange and recent culture that is trying to find it endemic identity, whether it be by using clothes, music, or language in whatever capacity people can adapt to express themselves in.'
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