On Attending PhotoPlus 2015

Several years ago, I stood on a fairly long line outside the Jacob Javitz Center, fiddling with an app called Gowalla, which was subsequently bought out by Facebook in 2011. I refreshed it and waited for the custom PhotoPlus Expo badge to materialize, so I could virtually and eventually physically check-in to confirm my attendance into a place full of enthusiastic and professional photographers to see what was new in the photo industry and the vendors eager to show us. The difference this year was that it was all about Snapchat for those interested in confirming their presence.

There’s only a few of these events that take in place in New York that I know of and this is the mother-load of them. What’s the point of attending? I would think that if you’re “into photography”, the answer would be self-explanatory but the benefits can perhaps not always be that transparent to people. I can’t speak for why you should attend an expo because every attendant typically has their own motive but I can share with you things I thought about prior to walking into PhotoPlus this year.

Think About What You Want

To me, attending a expo comes down to one thing: what you expect to gain. It’s the equivalent to visiting a museum. If you’re unsure why you’re going or don’t at have a vision for what you hope to see, it’s unlikely you’ll consider your time worthwhile. There’s that risk of walking away with that inconsolable feeling that you saw a lot but not much at the same time because you had no game plan set. It’s ultimately up to us, the attendees, to take more responsibility in recognizing the value we hope to get from these experiences.

Registration for seminars at conferences alone can be very expensive, so this year much like the ones in the past, I’ve really never enlisted to any seminar. Instead, I’ve always simply registered for the free pass to roam the floors which is find because it’s the only time of the year where I get to physically see and spend time drooling over gear one is eager to splurge on but can’t justify the purchase just yet.

Here’s what I anticipated seeing and pretty much succeeded in the most of them:

  • External hard drives. You can never own enough of them as a creative. I was particularly interested on investing in a Western Digital My Book Pro 12 TB and I’m convinced about it even more in view of the chance I had to talk to a representative and learn more about their system. Google right now “best hard drives for photographers” and you’ll be presented with the same feeling I was the day I entered Trader Joe’s and all I wanted was humus: Overwhelmed. There were tons of options.
  • Camera bags. Do I need another one? Probably not but it never hurts to see what’s new. I can’t say I was overly impressed with anything in particular although I did think The PRVKE Pack, which was recently successfully funded on Kickstarter, was very unique, beautifully crafted and most importantly, very inconspicuous.
  • I’ve been severely lacking in jumping on the bandwagon of producing work with video, in spite of 2015 having been classified as the year of. No reason in particular but I have to say I was really impressed and inspired by The WenPod. I had been looking for a smartphone steadicam for such a long time and the trouble with the majority of them is that you just never know what they’re gonna be like regardless off the promotional video you see without having you first tried it. I’m well aware that content is king in any creative endeavor but sometimes it doesn’t hurt get inspired by equipment that will make your end result look that much better.
  • The one piece of equipment that I miss the most from the Canon gear I owned is by far the 85mm lens. Since switching to Sony, I haven’t been able to acquire that focal length yet mostly because the one currently available by Sony is an A-Mount, which means it requires an adaptor for it to fit properly on the full-frame Sony A7II. I’ve rented it, and it works find and yet it feels weird. Ideally I would love to purchase the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 which is an E-Mount (no adaptor required) but unfortunately the lens is in severe backorder until Feb 2016 according to Carl Zeiss representatives. His reply when I asked him why it’s taken so long for the lens to even hit the stores, "we underestimated how popular it would be and so now we’re paying for it, pretty much." I tinkered with it and the results are absolutely gorgeous!

Having attended a few PhotoPlus Expos in the past, I recall being further impressed with the flavor of the event. Again, I’ve never attended any of the seminars, which you have to pay for, so I’m wondering if the better part of the event relies more on the seminar as oppose to just walking the expo floor hoping to be impressed with anything there. I’m still on the fence as to whether I’ll attend PhotoPlus again just for the expo portion but if I do, I’ll make sure to do my research more and try to get incentivize to attend based off a few seminars I hope to attend rather than just to be impressed with equipment I honestly don’t need.