Photo Credit: Matt Cohen (@mattcohen4real)
Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone to an event to meet a particular celebrity but then end up falling in love with someone else. Because I sure did when I attended Supernatural DC 2017. I’ll be honest, I was only there to meet Jared, Jensen, Misha, and Mark. But then I met Chris Schmelke.
Chris is basically the official Supernatural photographer. He’s in charge of taking the photo ops photos and he also photographs the cast during concerts and photoshoots. Not only is he extremely talented but he’s also very sweet and kind. I can’t thank him enough for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions for this feature.
Note from Chris: I am Chris. When I was a young tot, I poured powdered bleach on my head under the sink thinking it was magic snow. I also ate a penny that my dad saves on his desk to this day.
Q: I would love to hear how you became the ‘official’ photographer in the Supernatural fandom. Was being a photographer what you’ve always wanted to be from a young age or did you actually imagine yourself doing something else.
A: I grew up around both my dad and uncle who were heavily involved in cameras. I got into photography after my band broke up and I started taking photos of live shows for my friends. One thing led to another and here we are. My history with Creation goes back to elementary school when I used to leave school during lunch to buy comics at their store nearby. My mom started working there after I told her about a help wanted sign in their window. That was over 30 years ago. As far as Supernatural, I was in the right place at the right time. The cast and I were around the same age, shared similar music tastes and clicked right away.
As far as what I wanted to be when I was younger. Marine Biologist. Failure.
Q: Through the years of working in the convention circuit, what have you noticed about the fandom culture (specifically the Supernatural one) and what’s been the most surprising and unexpected aspect? Maybe regarding the environment at these conventions or the fans that you meet?
A: The feeling of warmth and love I receive from the fans who appreciate what I do. Knowing they have my back and they know that I will do everything I can to make sure they leave the weekend with a happy grin.
Q: What or who do you fangirl(boy) over and what’s been your personal favorite celebrity encounter?
A: I have been around actors I appreciate since I was a young tot. Meeting most of the Star Wars cast and George Lucas when I was still playing with Star Wars dolls was pretty amazing. I also worship Twin Peaks.
Q: Conventions are not cheap and can get extremely expensive very quickly. But yet they’re so incredibly popular. What is it about them do you think that people are so willing and eager to save up and ‘go broke’ so that they can attend these conventions and meet the actors?
There is a pretty big adrenaline rush from attending the shows. Non-stop running around, meeting the actors you appreciate and being around your friends from around the world that may only meet in person at shows, sound like it would be something you would want to do again.If I can add to that by making what I do unique and a different experience from other shows for the fans, it’s my pleasure. @chrisschmelke Click To Tweet
Q: You’ve worked with Creation Entertainment for many years having worked at different conventions for different TV Shows. I’m curious to hear your comments on the various cultures across different fandoms. If there are similar commonalities among all of them or if they are all different and unique and how so.
A: One common thing they share is the relationship and friendships that were started at a show. Seeing that continue for many years is pretty special.
Some Supernatural fans I met originally at Xena or Star Trek shows before Supernatural was even on the air. There are different fandom personalities and sometimes reflect the underlying theme of the show itself.
I will write my full memoirs from atop an Icelandic mountain someday @chrisschmelke Click To Tweet
Q: I’m sure being the sole photographer at the SPN conventions can get challenging. What would you say is the most difficult part of your job and what makes it worth it all? Piggybacking off of this, I would love to hear about some of the amazing stories regarding memorable fan interactions and/or poses.
A: Be confident in your abilities. Trust your staff to help.
If making people happy all day doesn’t motivate you, then you shouldn’t be in the position.
Fan interactions and poses are very personal. Like the Watcher in Marvel comics, I am there only to document. You could use that memory draining crystal on me, but that would be the only way to find out. 🙂
Q: Lastly, I feel like there’s kind of a negative stigma surrounding fangirl because you always hear about those ‘crazy obsessive fangirls’. But there’s also so much positivity and light that comes with being a fangirl. What are some such moments that come to mind when you think about the words ‘fandom’ or ‘fangirls’?
Be yourself, love your friends and family but love yourself first. Anyone that says otherwise, doesn’t need to be heard. Whatever makes you happy is not wrong. We are all here for a short time. Make the memories you want.