The crowd waiting to get in to the Photography Show.
I don't often get to escape Norfolk, not that it's any great hardship but when it's photo show time at the NEC I can't get in the car fast enough! A road trip with a fellow photography enthusiast to photo utopia is impossible to resist, so on Sunday we packed our bags for an overnight stay (one day is never long enough) and zoomed up the A14 to Hall 5 where it all takes place.
My friend and I have slightly different interests when it comes to photography but we are both pretty much fascinated by everything the show has to offer and it's hard to choose which talk to go to and which stand to hit first. The only talk I pre-booked for us both to see was the one by Nadav Kander on the Monday afternoon.
While my friend disappeared in search of lighting stands, I did my usual thing of wandering down every aisle to get my bearings and enjoy the atmosphere. There is nothing quite like the buzz of thrilled photographers clutching brand new cameras and excitedly chattering about the latest 'must have' technology. It's rare these days that you can find so many happy people in one place, they may look a bit serious but that's only because they are dead set on finding the perfect camera/lens/bag/software/accessories or in my friend's case... lighting equipment!
Ugh Think About It
I have to warn you, it's easy to lose any sense of reason once you enter the photo show, it's amazing what you suddenly find you can't live without. I had a particular camera in mind I wanted to look at... just look at, you understand, just to, you know, see if it might be of use to me. I'd read the blurb, the reviews etc and had no intention of getting it at the show but it only seemed sensible to check it out for real.
The incredibly helpful assistant showed me the camera, and we chatted about if it would work for what I needed (of course it would) but when she offered to lead me to the till, I forced out the words 'I'll have to think about it, I've only just arrived.' I hate it when people say that to me at shows 'I'll think about it' and there I was, uttering the same words when what I should have said was 'no, I like it, I want it but I really should NOT be buying it.' I had nothing to think about.. other than my bank balance and with my own exhibition coming up, I definitely didn't need to be spending money, not on something I didn't actually need.
So I went off and distracted myself with more directly work related stands. A bit later, a lady stepped out and offered me a free massage which I accepted and kept her talking as some weird large balls in a sling pummelled my aching shoulders (a common photographer's complaint.) I didn't want to leave but eventually had to. And that was the end of day one.
Photographers are Always Kind & Lovely
The next day it was tipping it down so we tried to get a cab to the NEC to no avail but a couple of fellow photographers offered us a lift in theirs. 'My wife's going to kill me,' said one of the chaps looking unperturbed about it. 'I've bought myself a camera. Bang goes the new kitchen.' We all laughed. 'I'm going to tell her how much I've saved.' We all nodded, this made perfect sense of course, you can make huge savings on show offers, it is quite crazy not to buy there with such discounts. I sighed inwardly and tried not to think about the camera I was lusting after.
The other great thing about the show is the competitions and my friend is a competition fiend and relentlessly nags me to enter every one of them I come across which I am very grateful for. She has eyes like a hawk and can spot the word 'win' or 'competition' at ten paces or more. So every now and then a leaflet would be flung at me with the instruction 'fill it in!' So we took full advantage of those too.
She's a Model and She's Looking Good
Now I don't have many gripes about the show, other than the fact that everytime a portrait photographer is giving a demonstration, they always seem to use a female model apart from on the FujiFilm stand where they used a male/female couple dressed up as woodland fairies (at least I think that's what they were.) Beautiful set by the way. Now in these times of equality, I really would like to see more male models used. A balance of the sexes would be good to see which moves me on to the last talk we saw.
FujiFilm Woodland Fairies
From the moment I saw Nadav's images I knew I had to see him talk, his portraits are compelling and his landscape/documentary photography enthralling. When portrait photographers photograph celebrities there seems to be more of a balance in the sexes and both male and female portraits are equally fascinating. It seems like Nadav has photographed nearly everyone in the public eye from Prince Charles to Kellyanne Conway and everyone in between, be they actors, politicians, comedians or naturalists.
But he is not purely a portrait photographer; his landscapes, documentary and filmwork are just as beautiful and thought provoking to view and it was a great honour to hear him talk about it in such depth and with such feeling.
It is one thing to be an articulate, talented and much sought after celebrity photographer but having to sit on a stage in front of a large audience to talk about it was something he admitted he is shy about. Nevertheless Nadav was charming, interesting and held our attention throughout. I love it that he is never afraid to keep changing and try new things, it's all about the desire to be creative and explore.
If you haven't come across his inspirational and impressive body of work, treat yourself by clicking on the link below.
And if you are a fan of Instagram...
Check out Tobi 'Tobishinobi' Shonibare who has a stunning back catalogue of architectural photography that made him famous on Instagram and propelled him from law into a full time career as a photographer. A true inspiration and very talented rising star.
Read more about him here...
Not enough time..
There is never enough time to take it all in and you have to really decide who and what you want to see most. All I can say is that if you are serious about photography, The Photography Show is not to be missed.
And yes, I did relent and buy the camera. From the minute you enter the show, all will is lost.. be warned!
Til next time