What to see first? What to prioritise? These were the questions going through my mind when I walked into The Photography Show for the first time. I’d caught the train from London that morning to Birmingham’s International Station from where it’s just a few minutes walk to Hall 5 in the NEC, a vast series of exhibition halls all under one roof.
Gadgets and Gizmos
All my favourite brands, products and services were there; Canon, Nikon, Lowepro, Fuji (oh how I loved Fuji Velvia and Provia films), from software and studio gear to photographic societies and insurers. If you’re planning a purchase, The Photography Show, together with The Video Show (new to the event this year) is a great place to check things out and get expert advice.
Black Rapid Curve
My planned purchase was a modest one. I treated myself to a sling camera strap from Black Rapid to help take the load off my neck when carrying my heavy pro DSLR. I had stopped using it because of back and neck aches and pains, but I’ve noticed that my photographs aren’t as good as they used to be, so I’ve gone back to using my big beasty of a Nikon D700. I’ll still be using my phone as well, it’s so much more discreet in a restaurant for example and for this article, but nothing can compare to the photos my D700 takes when it comes to landscapes, cityscapes or wildlife. I appreciated being able to talk to an expert at the show about which was the right camera strap or harness for me, and I can’t believe how comfortable my camera is to carry now with this Black Rapid Curve Breathe Classic Strap.
Mission Creep, a revolutionary new lightweight tripod system
My favourite find of the show, however, was a brand I’d never heard of before; Mission Creep. Their name caught my eye, and I couldn’t resist popping over to find out more. It turns out they’re so new that their equipment isn’t even on sale yet and their website is just a single page with only a contact email on it. However, when I had a chat with their Managing Director, Robert Gearing, a former aircraft engineer, I was left in no doubt that I’d be hearing a lot more about them in years to come.
Mission Creep’s tripod system is modular so that tripod heads and legs can be mixed and matched. You can turn your tripod into a monopod, a hiking pole and even a tent frame! How ingenious is that? The system is aimed at adventurers who carry their equipment on their backs, but I think it will appeal to a far wider audience. When I’m travelling, I often have to make tough decisions about what equipment to bring. Luggage allowances are rarely enough for me to pack everything I might need. Mission Creep’s flexibility is a dream come true.
Mission Creep’s tripods are also light and durable, both of which are a must whether you’re climbing a mountain or boarding a plane. They are made to the highest specifications out of aircraft-grade alloys and would have been perfect for my trip to The Great Bear Rainforest to photograph Grizzly Bears. I was asked to pack as little as possible into the seaplane and had to choose between my tripod and monopod. I wouldn’t have had to make a choice with Mission Creep.
But the real game-changer for me is that as well as a traditional tripod head they also have a magnetic one, where a magnet holds the camera in place. The strength of the magnet is impressive, being capable of securing the heaviest of cameras and lenses that you’re likely to use. The simplicity of the design is sublime. Bookmark their website and watch this space: Mission Creep.
Getting to the NEC by train: It only took two hours to get to Birmingham from London by rail, and that was on the slow train. There’s another that’s faster, but be warned; they leave from the same platform and at similar times so it’s easy to get on the wrong one and your ticket won’t be valid if you do.
There are several galleries dotted around the show, all worth checking out, but my favourite was the ‘Atlas of Humanity’ exhibition. The project was set up in 2015 by Martin Vegas as an ongoing celebration of human diversity. You can read more about it here, Atlas of Humanity.
Tip: It’s worth checking out the NEC’s website for possible discounts. Currently, you can get 20% off advance Virgin Train fares or save money and time with prepaid parking.
Speakers, masterclasses and workshops
There’s a bewildering range of speakers appearing at the show, including some pretty big names. You may even get the chance to talk to one of your heroes. I found the shows’ app extremely useful, firstly to help me decide which events to go to and then to remind me when each one was.
Tip: To download the shows’ app, go to the ‘Play Store’ (Android) or ‘App store’ (iOS) and search for ‘The Photography / Video Show 2019.’
While many of the talks are free, for some you need to buy tickets, and they sell out fairly quickly. I also noticed that there was more going on than I had initially realised with additional talks and photo walks being added in the weeks leading up to the show. Next year I’ll keep a better eye on their website.
With talks covering everything from photographing weddings to wildlife, presidents to paragliders, whatever branch of photography you are into, you’re bound to find events you’ll love.
Events I’m sorry I missed, include a talk by the campaigner and National Geographic Photographer, Annie Griffiths, ‘Photography for Good’ and another coming up on Tuesday by Chris Burkard, ‘The Hard Way Home: Lessons learned from a decade in cold water travel’.
Tip: The official show guide is an excellent addition to the app with a map and a full list of events and exhibitors, as well as interviews with key speakers.
Food photography on your phone
I’m a bit of a food photography addict, and I particularly enjoyed a talk by Bea Lubas and Donna Crous on the Social Stage all about food photography on your phone. Despite having studied photography, I still found their tips extremely helpful. Some were timely reminders while others gave me a better understanding of how to use my phone and the apps that are available to help bring the best out of my images. Bea’s and Donna’s images are delectable and a great inspiration.
The Video Show
The Video Show is new this year, with talks throughout the four days on several stages. Three new stages this year include the Video Live Stage with a host of practical demos, In Motion Theatre where you can learn the tricks of the trade and Beginners’ Masterclass, offering a fabulous introduction to video terminology, post-production, audio and storytelling (Saturday and Sunday only, booking required).
Frustratingly, I didn’t manage to catch any speakers. I’d have loved to have heard ‘The Drone Lass’ Carys’ talk about using drones to help tell a story. And I’m sure the live Asian wedding dance-off, where Mandy Dhilon explained how she captures such magical moments, was fabulous. That’s something I’d dearly love to video as well as photograph one day.
Having a wide range of interests in photography and video and with so many excellent speakers, for me, one day at the show wasn’t nearly enough. I left the NEC feeling excited, inspired and eager to put into practice some of the tips I picked up. Next year, I’ll be back for at least a couple of days.
SAVE THE DATE
Saturday 14th to Tuesday 17th March 2020
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