As the Photography Show 2017 draws to a close this Tuesday, I look back at some of the exciting products, live demonstrations and seminars that I found most useful. This year’s show featured over 7 stages that gave advice & demonstrations for the beginners and professional photographers across the four days. One of the fantastic things about the Photography Show is the experience and knowledge available to everyone who walks through the NEC doors, you can be anything from a wildlife photographer to a wedding photographer and there is something for everyone.
With over 200 exhibitors at this year’s show there’s certainly plenty to look at, as a complete camera geek and my love for all things tech, I made sure I got hands on with as many new products as I could. With so much going on over the weekend, I thought it would be a great idea to share my favourite stands from this year’s show:
The ever popular Sigma, again had a fantastic set up at this year's Photography Show 2017, showcasing their new lineup of lenses which sums up their approach to lenses and photography. The three new and popular lines on display were Contemporary, Art and Sports, all of which show Sigma's development philosophy and advanced manufacturing systems. The great thing about the Photography Show is that you can bring along your own camera bodies and try out new kit and the Sigma stand was certainly the place to be for photographers.
The Sigma stand was probably the first stand on my hit list and in particular their Art range lenses. For many creative and proffesional wedding photographers, the Sigma Art lens is the glass to be shooting with for unsurpassed expressive performance. The lenses are developed with maximum emphasis on artistic touch, ensuring they meet the expectations of users who value a creative, dramatic outcome above compactness and multifunction. Along with weddings, landscapes, portraits, still-life, close-up and causal snaps, they're perfect for the kind of photography that unleashes the inner artist.
You're probably aware of my love affair with Instax, especially when it comes to my wedding photography. My photography is all about creating amazing photographs for couples, sure images with gorgeous light, tones, composition and mood certainly help along with a good DSLR or even a mirrorless camera. But ignoring all that good stuff for a minute, the most important thing comes down to creating awesome memories for the couple and their guests. My job as a wedding photographer isn't being good with my camera settings, although that is kind of needed, it's capturing those moments, moods and delivering that emotion through image making.
So getting back to Instax, as a wedding photographer this is why I love the Fujifilm Instax range and why it never leaves my side during weddings. It allows me to create instant memories that couples and their guests will cherish.
If you're not aware of these super awesome cameras, then you've probably been living under a rock the last couple of years. The Fujifilm Instax Camera is a spin on the old instant photography cameras, providing instant prints from the camera body, let's be honest who doesn't love vintage & retro polaroids? The Instax range is a premium, fully-fledged camera design that sets itself apart from the "cute" image projected by its predecessors. Designed for a vintage look, they feature a variety of photography modes allowing more freedom, control and creativity in your photography.
The cameras also have a host of shooting modes, this is much more than a point & shoot camera, settings such Landscape, Macro, Party & Portrait modes allow you to take back some of that control the old school instant cameras lacked. You actually have some control over what image the camera creates and prints, with the added bonus of being able to under/over expose and choose whether the flash (which is brilliant) fires or not.
Furthermore, the Instax range actually looks the part, their vintage look mean they can sit in your camera bag or around your neck with a DSLR and not look out of place. I take a Fuji Instax to 99% of the weddings I capture and I feel comfortable having it with me and I'm always conscious about looking proffesional at weddings!
I’m bound to be a little bit bias when it comes to Billingham as my go-to camera bag for wedding photography is my trusted (and very vintage) Billingham. I doubt there’s many photographers in the UK that haven't heard of this British company and they’re always great to go and see when the Photography Show comes around. Their appearance at the 2017 show was no different, with a huge range of quality products on display for you to have a look at and more importantly, be able to touch and feel the premium quality of their products. As soon as I got chatting to the guys on the stand it’s fairly obvious they know what they’re talking about and more importantly, they talked to you like a human being, leaving out those god awful sales pitches. If I’m honest I don’t need a sales pitch to be persuaded to buy a Billingham Camera bag, the products and design speaks for itself, and most importantly the bags do the job at protecting your photography equipment very very well!
One thing I love about the Photography Show is the opportunity to mix with the big companies and then walk around the corner and find yourself chatting to a small independent company that offer something really quirky to the photography industry. This was just the case with Tailored. This British company offer an authentic collection of leather accessories that cater for the professional photographer. Their handcrafted Leather Oxford Camera Strap is a very popular addition to the dual camera systems, but something Tailored do differently is that their process ensures each product is entirely made to measure for each photographer... no more buckles, rivets or excess leather!
Their process helps create a lightweight two-camera strap that is seriously strong whilst being as comfortable and low profile as possible. Weight is balanced perfectly for maximum comfort. As each Oxford strap is made to order just for you, you have full control of all their styling options too. Their attention to detail is second to none, you'll receive an adjustable measuring strap that records your measurements for the strap, you then just have the tough choice of which unique leather, stitching colour and embossing details you desire.
It's absolutely fantastic to see a UK company taking the dual camera system by storm!
G . F SMITH
There’s always those few stands at the Photography Show where you just find yourself engulfed in conversation and this was the case with the lovely people at G . F Smith Photographic. They had a huge range of photographic books, frames and folders on display for you to look at, touch and most importantly feel. Their attention to detail and quality is obvious from their products and passion, they certainly know what they’re talking about and their work speaks for itself. I was even more impressed with the customer service they offer, I pride myself on a bespoke service with my photography so I like businesses who offer the same. Their brochure states ‘we answer the telephone’ let’s be honest when you’re designing a photo album or ordering prints and you come across a problem there is nothing worse than having to email the company and wait for a reply, it’s very rare companies advertise their telephone numbers these days. Even better, the sales executives from G . F Smith will visit your studio or home across the country to go through everything and show you how to use their software. Overall the G . F Smith stand was one of my favourites at the 2017 Photography Show, and I’m not bias on this one as I have never used their service but I certainly intend to, so keep posted for an update.
Hahnemühle Fine Art
For anyone who follows my work & blog religiously, you will be well aware that I love printing photographs, so at this year’s Photography Show 2017 stopping by to say hello at the printing experts was my first point of call. I currently outsource a large majority of my printing so I wanted to speak to a few people at this year’s show to see how easy and how much it would cost me to start printing from the office again. Once you’ve sourced a professional printer, then comes your paper choice and it’s very important you get this one right. Most people will have heard of Hahnemühle, I don’t think there’s any other company that challenges their range of fine art papers. Founded back in 1584 as a paper mill in South Lower Saxony’s Solling uplands, Hahnemühle developed – strictly according to the spirit of its founding fathers – into a customer-oriented and innovative manufacturing facility and that was very apparent at this year’s Photography Show. I was hugely impressed with the samples Hahnemühle had on show this year and the expertise of the staff on the stand. I will certainly be using Hahnemühle for my next print to see the results.
Manfrotto: Digital Director
Let’s be honest Manfrotto lead the way for photography tripods and their up there with the best when it comes to video heads, camera bags, lens filters & video lighting. If you’re a regular visitor to the Photography Show you will know that Manfrotto go all out with their stand and the size of it challenges the likes of Nikon & Canon. This year was no different and I think they had more products on show than any other stall in the whole show, seeing the amount of products they offer in one space really emphasises they’re more than just the leading tripod company. Their own brochure they were handing out states ‘ The best photo and video accessories’ on the front cover and would you challenge that?
As always, I was impressed with their vast range of ergonomic, lightweight and spacious camera bags that I would trust to keep all my photographic equipment secure. They really had a bag for every occasion, whether you’re taking one DLSR on a family picnic to travelling the to the other side of the world with all your equipment they could suggest the bag for the occasion. Obviously their photo supports/ tripods on display gained a lot of attention at the show, I very rarely use tripods, but as Photography and Video become an all in one service, Manfrotto have answered the needs of the industry. Seriously these guys rule the world when it comes to tripods and monopods!
So out of all their products what did I love the most from Manfrotto? I was actually really impressed with their ‘Digital Director’ this is a workflow manager, it’s the only Apple certified device that connects to your camera and iPad to help manage your photo & video workflow. They had plenty of these directors on display linked up to Nikon & Canon cameras and you could even have a go with your own camera if you asked nicely enough. The digital director works really well, it firstly allows you to check the settings within the camera and changed anything on the camera from your iPad. It acts as a wireless remote and screen, but unlike using the camera apps on your phone, it’s in realtime without any delay or lag. Furthermore, rather than using your small LCD on the back of the camera and as an alternative to your viewfinder, the director allows you to use your iPad as an external monitor, taking advantage of it’s Retina display. So the Digital Director isn't the new toy for everyone, I doubt I would ever use the director in my wedding photography but I can certainly see it being a welcome addition to studio, product, newborn, landscape and sport photographers to name a few!