Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Like Shooting Alien Fish in a Barrel...

Photographing some events: The Mummers, Mardi Gras, Halloween Drag Parties - and Star Trek Conventions - is like taking candy from a baby Betazoid.

Like Shooting Alien Fish in a Barrel...

Photographing some events: The Mummers, Mardi Gras, Halloween Drag Parties - and Star Trek Conventions - is like taking candy from a baby Betazoid (that a better metaphor than this post's title?)

My first experience "to boldly go" out photographing Trekkies (they actually prefer to be called Trekkers) was around the time the science officer of the Starship USS Enterprise made the cover of Newsweek (1986 - "The Enduring Power of Star Trek").

I recall most of the fans were leery about "outsiders" seeing them in their costumes and extremely hesitant about being photographed.

There were no shrinking violet Vulcans at the “Official Star Trek Convention: The Celebration of the 25th Anniversary of The Next Generation” all weekend at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, when I showed up on Saturday.

Somewhere along the line - consider the success of TV's Big Bang Theory - it became fashionably chic to be a geek.

This group had no qualms about having their pictures taken. In fact, when approaching a Cardassian, Romulan or even your generic Starfleet officer with my camera, they were already getting into pose mode before I could even say qaStaH nuq? (wassup? in Klingon).

From the Bristol physican I watched get dressed by his car in the parking lot (decided not to post that photo) to the North Jersey dad who costumed and brought his two kids (saying, "my father used to embarrass me by taking me to these things. Now I guess it's my turn.") to the newlyweds (she costumed as the feline Lt. M'Ress, from the animated TV show - he, apparently as Margaritaville singer Jimmy Buffett) to the Filipino neurologist - above - who popped over from the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Foundation in Philly (He didn't confuse the two conventions; he just wanted a break) they were all fun to talk to and photograph.

The wedding party was just staying at the hotel. They didn't have to share their reception.

The "Cap Kirk" personalized plate isn't his.

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the syndicated series that ran from 1987 to 1994 and tracked the voyages of the Starship Enterprise about 100 years after the setting of the original Star Trek. That original Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, debuted in 1966 and ran for three seasons on NBC.

If you're reading this on Sunday, there's still time to make the scene. It's going until 5 p.m. $30 for adults; $15 for children (age 6 and younger free). More info here.

Click here, or on any of the photos for a gallery with more images.

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
About this blog

Tom Gralish is a general assignment photographer at The Inquirer, concentrating on local news and self-generated feature photos.

He has been at the paper since 1983, photographing everything from revolution in the Philippines to George W. Bush’s road to the White House to homeless people living on the street right outside his newspaper's front door. For his photo essay on Philadelphia’s homeless, he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

His weekly newspaper column, "Scene Through the Lens," takes a look at Philadelphia's urban landscape.

Gralish, along with Inquirer colleague and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Vitez, spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture the stories and photos of "Rocky runners" who come from all over the world to climb the steps - just as Sylvester Stallone did in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. Their book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps, was published in November 2006.

Reach Tom at

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
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