This past Saturday I attended The Photography Show with my Dad. It was a great experience.
The Photography Show is hosted at Birmingham’s NEC. Many big name brands such as Canon, Nikon and Samsung set up shop to show off their latest technology, gadgets and products. Alongside the big names were a variety of businesses showing their wares, ranging from wedding books, picture frames, canvas prints, DIY toy cameras, studio backdrops (of all shapes and sizes), printing paper, handmade vintage brass lenses and giant monopod-esque poles that almost reached the ceiling!
This is my first photography event. Never before have I seen so many photographers in one place. Massive lenses and lens hoods as far as the eye could see. There I was with my little Yashica.
During the event I shot a around 25 frames of Tri-X. I’ll post the results in a few weeks’ time when I get around to developing them. I can’t wait to see the results. Shooting film certainly gained some people’s attention. A small number of people came up to me and asked to have a look at my camera. It certainly doesn’t look like your standard Canikon DSLR.
During the whole day I only saw about four other people with film cameras. I can’t help but feel disappointed. However, I think the low number is more to do with the kind of audience this sort of show draws. I imagine many of the photographers that attended the show were freelancers and keen hobbyists who probably moved to digital a long time ago for the convenience and workflow.
While wandering around the show I was delighted to spot a large banner in the distance with Black + White Photography‘s logo proudly being displayed. I’ve only bought the magazine twice, but it’s a fantastic magazine with high quality photographs spread throughout its pages. Black + White Photography is different to the other photography magazines I’ve read. I think they sum it up perfectly by printing “Cool, Creative and Contemporary” on the front cover of a recent issue.
B+W has more of a focus on the process of creating an image and showing the results, instead of obsessing over the gear used. That being said, they do have reviews of some tasty gear.
(I may write a blog post solely about the magazine in the future.)
Back to the show.
At the booth, my Dad and I went up to a lady stood at the stand full of issues of B+W and enquired about subscriptions, only to find out that she’s Elizabeth Roberts, the Editor of the magazine! I spoke to her for a short time, praising the magazine and how much I enjoy it. She was glad to hear the praise, of course. I mentioned that I’m studying Sound & Video Technology at uni. Elizabeth said how photography links into video, and I agreed whole heartedly. Photography has improved my “eye” for composition and light immeasurably.
I mentioned that I was shooting film while at the show. I quickly got the sense that she’s very passionate about photography. She asked to see my camera straight away (It’s quite the conversation piece). She was impressed to find that I develop the film myself (I’ll write a blog about that in the future, too). Elizabeth spoke about the joys of film, but she also made a very good point about film and digital. (Paraphrasing here) While digital is versatile, immediate and easy to manipulate, there’s nothing quite like the experience of shooting film and the aesthetic of the result. That is exactly why I shoot film; for the experience and the aesthetic. While you can get close to it with today’s tools, you’re still missing the experience (I will be writing about the experience of shooting film in further detail in a different blog post).
Elizabeth encouraged me to send in my pictures to B+W. They feature submissions and some win impressive prizes. I have a lot of developing to do before I submit any. After leaving, I realized that it would be great to get a picture of her. I went back and she was happy for me to take her picture. Elizabeth is such a wonderful person. I am so grateful I got to meet her.
The next highlight was the modest Hungry Eye booth.
Hungry Eye is a quarterly magazine featuring a range of content on photography and film making; the perfect combination. I got talking with the Curator, Simon Skinner. I had never heard of the magazine until visiting the booth. He explained about the methodology of the magazine and how just two people run the magazine; himself and Harriet Weston, Editorial Designer. That is amazing considering the impressive quality of the magazine.
Hungry Eye is different. It focuses on the images instead of the gear, similar to B+W. It features incredible and inspiring photography from many leagues of photographer: famous names and lesser known ones. The magazine is packed with content with it being quarterly. Each issue feels more like a novella than a magazine.
After speaking with Simon, I knew I wanted this magazine. My Dad could clearly tell, too. He asked if I wanted a subscription. My Dad is truly awesome. 5 minutes later, I had an issue in my bag and three on the way in the future. As a bonus for getting a subscription, Simon included a print from a choice of four quite outstanding photographs. They are only 100 copies of each printed. I chose the print (below) because it’s inspiring, emotive and the kind of photo I would like to take one day.
I don’t have any pictures from the event because the entire time I was filming on my phone, vertically! I cringe when I see vertical video, too. However, there is a good reason I was filming vertically.
This interesting concept allows users to remix videos submitted to the website. When a user puts three vertical videos side by side, the result is a more “normal” aspect ratio. It’s highly creative and very interesting.
Filming on a mobile phone is a completely different experience. I’m used to my Canon 60D with a wide aperture lens or larger documentary/broadcast style cameras like the Sony EX1/3. I quickly learned the limitations of my phone, of which there are many. For example, when I press the record button, there’s a 3-4 second delay before it actually starts recording. I won’t even get into rolling shutter.
Yet, I greatly enjoyed shooting with it. There’s a sense of freedom, even with the limitations of the technology. I didn’t think too much about any shots prior to the day. I just hit record when I noticed something interesting. This gave what I think to be more of a point-of-view style.
My phone gives off interesting, and often extreme, lens flares because the lens cover is badly scratched. You’ll notice this immediately in the film. I tried to use it creatively at different points.
My Dad and I spent the entire day at the show. We left after I went to an interesting talk with Iron Maiden photographer, John McMurtrie. He talked about the twists and turns of shooting music events and musicians. John McMurtrie has photographed some of the biggest names in rock and metal. His portfolio is incredible.
The Photography Show was well worth going to. Meeting Elizabeth Roberts alone made it worth it, alongside getting a subscription to Hungry Eye. I had a great day filming and taking pictures with my Yashica.
I expect I’ll be going back next year.