Well, that was some day! Up at 06:30, out by 08:00 and off I went to Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre for The Photography Show 2016. I always travel by train because: 1) the M6 motorway is a dreadful road during the morning rush; 2) it costs £12 a day to park at the NEC; and 3) it’s less expensive than fuel for my little Suzuki Swift. The bonus is I get dropped off in the heart of the NEC with only a five or so minute walk to the show.
I must say that things have improved since my last visit – I was in Romania last year – with a bigger space, which allowed for bigger stands and more booths. The aisles were also wider so there was less pushing and shoving to get to where you wanted to go. Most of the big names were there: Fujifilm – of course! – Nikon, Canon, Sigma, Sony, Panasonic, Hasselblad, Linhof, Leica, Olympus and Pentax.
Fujifilm were offering their latest offering, the X-Pro2, for loan for the day. I knew this was taking place but I’d not brought sufficient ID to borrow one. I did get my hands on one for a few minutes and the (very) few images I took of folk passing by were truly of outstanding quality… I went and bought one! I dropped on a good deal, which also entitled me to a free Kit-Kat biscuit when I collected the camera before going home!
So, what else did I get up to? Having bought the X-Pro2, I went to a presentation by my friend and Fuji X-Photographer, Matt Hart, who was talking about the X-Pro 2 and the various changes Fuji have made. After that it was a wander around to see what else was on offer. I picked up a clutch of magazines and several massively discounted books, some of which are for friends in the future.
After lunch it was another presentation at the Linhof stand by architectural photographer, Sean Conboy, which was very interesting. I unknowingly sat next to another fave photographer of mine, Mark Littlejohn from the Lake District, whose tree images I greatly admire and have been an inspiration since last autumn. Joe Cornish, the eminent British landscape photographer, was also present on the Linhof stand and I had a brief chat with him.
There was time to take a few photographs, too, mainly model shots on the Fujifilm stand and on just about all the flash and studio lighting ones. Olympus had an artisan studio on their stand with a chap making custom leather straps for their cameras, which was quite novel. And then, the highlight of the day, which was meeting Magnum photographer, Bruce Gilden, who was Show guest of honour for the day. He did a book signing and the book I wanted sold out just as it was my turn! He signed a magazine for me instead…
And that was just about the end of my visit. I’m still not sure about whether The Photography Show is the right format for UK photographers. Yes, the main players all turn out (usually!) but there are so many other things going on and some of the presentations require early booking. Take Adobe, for instance; they almost always have a “theatre” giving 45-minute presentations and promoting their wares. You can’t just turn up and and listen but nowhere in ANY documentation I saw was this mentioned.
Drinks and food are expensive, too. And – last rant, I promise – when booking early for the event you are tempted by a discounted ticket, which is all well and good but the concession for us older folk doesn’t count! We pay the same as those who get the discounted ticket. Effectively, no concessionary ticket.
Never mind, it’s not about the organisers. Those who staff the stands and booths work damned hard and I’d like to thank them all very much for their patience and thoughtfulness towards everyone who turns up and visit them. Well done! The best stand? Well, I’d like to say Fujifilm – really? you ask – but Canon had a huge stand with lots interesting things going on.
The Fuji Freak rating is for this event is: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️