Bettendorf portrait photographer Chris Norton, 37, of InfinitySpiral Photography, has been invited to Lubomierz, Poland to photograph cosplay, video-game and comic characters at a worldwide photography summit.

He will be among 150-200 photographers at PixelMania, where fans of cosplay photography (photo/videographers, cosplayers, makeup artists, volunteers and reporters) Aug. 2-4 will focus on making great cosplay photos and videos. (In cosplay, a contraction of the words costume play, cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a  character from a comic, video game or movie.)

Locations will include a massive dam, an abandoned factory, valleys, forests, the Japanese garden Siruwia, an old abandoned church (Pearl of Żeliszów) and the medieval castle Zamek Gryf .

"There’s only one other person in the U.S. that made it in," said Norton, who grew up in Rock Island. "It’s pretty crazy. I filled out the application and I had to wait for four or months to let them review all the applications."

"It’s kind of like a summer camp for this particular type of photography," he said.

Norton specializes in epic, cinematic, story-based portraits and has photographed some of the world's best-known cosplayers. He regularly travels to comic conventions across the country and has worked with makers from all over the world including Australia, France, Italy, Lithuania, Singapore and Sweden.

PixelMania handpicks top cosplayers (costume makers), photographers and videographers from all around the world to create photo shoots with costumes from "Metroid," "Final Fantasy," "The Witcher," "Evangelion" and other video games, comics, anime and movies.

Participants can sign up for specialists to be on-set to provide enhancements such as  pyrotechnics, trained wolf-dog handlers, ride-able horses and more.

Norton will direct photo shoots with world-recognized costume and prop makers, some of which are the official character representatives for companies at comic conventions and press-release parties.

"It's up to each participant to reach out to other participants to arrange their own photo shoots during the event," he said. "The organizers might pick you, but you still need to sell your vision and skills to each individual attendee. And you're competing against some of the best costume photographers in the world."

"When I signed up for consideration to the event I had three or so people from around Europe I hoped to find lookalikes for but in the end, I was able to secure those exact people. It's a little like being a casting director and marking down that you'd like to find someone like Julia Roberts ... but then Julia Roberts shows up."

Norton picked a lot of shoots based on gaining new experiences. "I’m working with an animal handler that has wolf dogs," he said. "That’s like a huge unexpected thing."

The photographer is treated as a producer, he said.

Norton, who has been a professional photographer for about a year, also is a web developer for Aquent IT Solutions in East Moline.

To contact Norton, email him at chris@infinityspiral.com

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Film critic/reporter since 1985 at Quad-City Times. Society of Professional Journalists, Broadcast Film Critics Association and Alliance of Women Film Journalists member. Member of St. Mark Lutheran Church.

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