Yesterday I made a trip to The Photography Show in Birmingham. Where the curious lack of photographs and sheer quantity of things that promise to make you a better photographer normally leaves a rather hollow feeling. However this year they'd addressed this with some inspiring displays. In particular David Hurn's Swaps exhibition. Otherwise it's like going to the world's largest camera shop and I partly go in order to save ever having to go to a real one. (Mostly I buy everything online – doesn't everyone?)
A particular highlight for me was Gered Mankowitz, who is not only a hero for having created some of the most iconic portraits of Jimi Hendrix, but also answered my email questions very helpfully when I was in my first term at Central Saint Martins. We'd been asked who our favourite photographer was and Mankowitz came to mind because he'd recently been on TV talking about his latest book. By complete chance my tutor had previously been his assistant and put me up to getting in touch with him. One day I'll post that original email exchange. It was a definite milestone on my route to becoming a photographer. Yesterday he claimed to still maintain "an analogue pace in a digital world".
Amusing aspects of the show always include the bizarre scenarios laid on by exhibitors to give you something to photograph, this year included Mermaids...
One of the classiest stands this year was by Eizo. Designed by Peter and Paul. They're a design studio who once interviewed me for a job. They wouldn't believe I was willing to relocate to Sheffield despite telling them I had actually been there and was honestly up for up! Maybe they just knew better than I did that I was destined to be a photographer.
- Always worth a browse is Whitewall, who always have a very high standard of photos on display (they’re a printing service based in Germany) I will definitely be putting some orders in this year.
- Lomo and Fuji Instax always have fun stands, it helps that their products are fundamentally enjoyable. I bought a new instant camera (a Lomo that uses Instax film) which I'm looking forward to incorporating into future tests and personal projects.
- Seeing photographers demonstrating their techniques (people now pay thousands in tuition fees for this sort of thing!)
Things I Missed From Previous Years:
- Stationery printing service Moo mainly for their enthusiasm for their product.
- Clive Arrowsmith on the Hasselblad stand who had many hilarious anecdotes.
- The hundreds of people in costume on their way to the Comic-con next door, as I went on a Monday this year I missed it this time.
Overall it's great for checking out what I may or may not ever buy. It’s great hearing directly from manufacturers – I was very impressed by Hasselblad who positively encouraged me to test their mirrorless medium format camera. This year seemed refreshingly balanced, it wasn't overly weighted in favour of baby props, wedding album printers or drones as it has been in previous years. In fact I'm looking forward to the next one.