I recently asked the question, ‘Why is photography so male dominated?’
Perhaps The Photographic Show at the NEC provides a few answers to that question.
The preshow advice was to bring a camera, and that advice was taken very, very seriously by some visitors to the show. Some, it would appear, decided to bring every piece of equipment they owned!
Huge lenses, and multiple cameras hanging from necks, were not uncommon. Many of the trade visitors in particular seemed to use the event as a vehicle for showing their prowess in carrying huge weights as they staggered from one overcrowded stand to the next.
Wondering about the motivations of these ‘pros’ leads on to the motivations behind the whole event. With the demise of Focus on Imaging in 2013, there were a few voices that argued that Focus has lacked direction and was not focussed on the needs of their particular aspect of the photographic industry.
If this was true of Focus, then the same criticism can be levelled at the new event.
From a personal viewpoint my reasons for visiting revolved around meeting people, developing ideas for teaching and experiencing products such as mounts and books that would normally be available only online.
Throw in a free camera clean, and the chance to get on stage with Damian McGillicuddy to take some flower photos, then the show was great fun for me.
For others, their experience would be different, but the vast majority of people I met seemed to be having a great time. For perhaps the new show is everything to everybody.
Certainly it was the case that most of the show was not aimed at me, but perhaps that’s true of most people. The bits that did attract my interest were well worth the visit in themselves.
But, my mind keeps returning to the opening question.
At one stage I encountered a large group of (mostly) men ‘listening’ to a talk on the merits of using a DSLR to make videos. During the part of the talk that I listened to, a vast array of expensive lenses were pointed at the stage area, but of course not at the speaker. The photographers, many of whom were wearing trade badges seemed far more interested in the attractive young lady standing behind the speaker. He might have been speaking about completing tax returns for all the assembled ‘togs’ were concerned. They were simply there to photograph the model.
On another stand, a well-attended stand, the primary interest was, again, the attractive staff on the stand.
Ok, it gets people, well a certain sort of person, through the door, but somehow leaves the impression that perhaps we haven’t moved on much in the last 30 years.
No doubt everyone will have their own ‘take’ on the event, but I remain unconvinced that there was much there for professional photographers. For hobbyists willing to queue to stroke the latest kit, perhaps they would be better served visiting a camera shop. For those looking for inspiration and instruction, poor sound quality let much of the event down.
But would I go again? Well, yes, for the reasons stated above. In some ways the most instructive part of the day was swapping cameras for a while with a Fuji X100s owner then chatting about the relative merits of the Fuji and my OM-D M5. And of course anything run by the Big Dog on the Oly stand is instructive and amusing.