Exploring: The Photography Show

Following the demise of Focus on Imaging last year, the phoenix has risen from the ashes in the shape of The Photography Show, which was held over four days at the NEC, Birmingham, last weekend.  I went along on the Sunday to take a look around and explore this new incarnation of all things photographic.

A t first sight it seemed pretty similar to Focus on Imaging.  A dazzling array of stands offering everything from printing materials to backdrops.  Some retailers, with show specials on offer and others manufacturers, demonstrating their latest products.  I got my hands on Fujifilm’s XT-1, hot off the production line just a few days earlier.  That is one sexy camera!  I also met Nikon’s new retro Df and have to say I was surprised at the sheer size of the body, despite the reviews that had told me it was bulky.  I fell in love with a little camera bag from Benro, which will be perfect for a day of street photography.  I just need to find a supplier now.

The event has plenty to offer beyond the opportunity to fritter your inheritance. Many stands had talks and demonstrations and I enjoyed watching a lively and entertaining presentation by Frank Doorhof on The Flash Centre’s stand, as he showed the audience some neat ways of using high speed synch flashes to create stunning effects in camera.  The IGPOTY stand imported a ‘garden’, mostly comprising grasses, primulas and succulents which proved to be something of a honeypot for photographers keen to create some floral images as reminders of their day.  There was also a catwalk with presentations on fashion and wedding photography.

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However, the highlight of the show for me was the opportunity to attend a presentation by Joe McNally on the ‘Super Stage’.  Tickets were purchased in advance for the very reasonable price of £10 for the 90 minute session.  We took a languid tour through some of the highlights of Joe’s career, covering his time at National Geographic and beyond.  He offered some fascinating insights into the making of many of his best-known images and a peek at a style of photography career that may now be forever consigned to the history books.  It was worth every penny.

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If you are tempted to attend next year’s show, here are my top 5 tips:

  1. Wear sensible shoes, as you will likely be doing a lot of walking – especially if you travel by train.
  2. Some of the show bargains were running low stock by Sunday morning, so if you are planning a big purchase, don’t delay!
  3. The hall gets pretty packed out by late morning so this is an ideal time to book a talk or show for some time out from the crowds.  There were some great speakers this year.
  4. Don’t leave it too late to buy lunch or you may find the shelves are bare.
  5. By 3pm the halls were really emptying out so late afternoon is an ideal time to stroll round the stands or take some candid shots of the event.

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And the most important thing I brought home with me?  Inspiration!  A big dose of inspiration to get out there and try new ideas, take more pictures.