I attended the photography show at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) in Birmingham on 1st March 2014. The event was spread over 2 halls at the NEC. Although this is most useful for a professional, here is a review on why you should attend photography shows as an amateur.
1. Photography workshops
There were half to one-hour workshops at different venues within the two halls like Live Stage, Catwalk and seminars in The Studio. There were also other programs by other brands. Some venues like Super stage were paid entries and required a ticket.
I attended ‘The art of capturing movement’ by Wayne Johns who showed artistic techniques for working with a dancer. He demonstrated that the most difficult part would be to capture the dancer’s dress in motion.
I also attended the seminar ‘What makes a good image?’ by Simon Young. He showed that contrast is important in a good image and that it can be provided by factors like colour, straight and curved, smooth and hard, hot and cold, young and old, etc. He also showed a very useful technique to squint while looking at a picture. If something distracts your eyes from the main focus of the image, that is what is deducting points while your image is being judged. Although of a short duration, this was very helpful in understanding how the brain sees an image.
I then attended the Catwalk session ‘Inside the picture’ by speakers Faye and Trevor Yerbury. They demonstrated with two female models and a male audience member on how to take good portraits.
Below are the light setup and some images from ‘The art of capturing movement’ workshop:
2. Discounts on gear.
Retailers like LondonCameraExchange, Calumet and CameraWorld were offering huge discounts on new and used cameras and lenses. There were all sorts of equipment from tripods to video lights and also albums.
3. Chance to meet your favourite photographers
Famous names are present and you might get a chance to speak to your favourite photographer. Super stage is a place where renowned photographers share insights into their styles.
4. Get to know about photography guilds and bureaus
I came to know about ‘The guild of photographers’ and ‘Bureau of Freelance photographers’. Membership to ‘The guild of photographers’ gets you online mentoring and discounts. Membership to ‘Bureau of Freelance photographers’ comes with monthly newsletters and a book on how and where to sell your images.
5. Chance to meet experts from the manufacturers of your camera
Experts from the makers of your camera are available to clear your doubts on your camera and lenses and offer information about upcoming models. Canon had super telephoto lenses for visitors to try and Nikon had renowned photographers demonstrating the features of its products. Other brands like Olympus and Panasonic had similar stalls too.
Tips on making the most of your visit:
- The show runs from 10am to 6pm. The crowd is maximum from about 11.30am to 4pm. Avoid this time at the equipment retailers as there will be a long queue. If you are looking for refurbished / second hand equipment, and you go after 4pm, chances are that what you wanted might have been sold out. Hence, I suggest heading to the equipment retailers earliest in the morning. Note: The makers of the equipment do not sell their products. You need to find the retailers only.
- Get the show guide and mark the workshops and seminars you want to attend and be there at least 15 minutes to half hour early if you want to take pictures. Else, you do not get to the front row and only end up getting other people’s heads in your pictures.
- Before you go, make a list of the famous photographers you might get to visit and the questions you want to ask them.
- Lastly, walk around and browse the stalls. Try new equipment from the manufacturers. Take a look at albums, tripods, magazines; get to know about different camera hire companies, talk to representatives from photography websites etc. There are even companies that generate leads if you want to go professional. If you like photographing birds, you will like the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) stall. If you like macro, head straight to the garden made by IGPOTY.
Have fun and enjoy!