About a year ago, I stood on a fairly long line outside the Jacob Javitz Center, fiddling with Gowalla app refreshing it, waiting for the custom PhotoPlus Expo badge to materialize so I could check-in both virtually and eventually physically into a center occupied both with enthusiastic photographers to see what was new in the photo industry and vendors eager to show us.
When the topic of photography expos comes up, it sounds like a sweet deal. There’s the potential act of flying into another city, the checking-into a fancy hotel and the unavoidable act of mingling. Luckily, I’m merely a couple trains stops away from the Javitz Center so having an extroverted mindset is pretty much the only aspect I have to concern myself with.
There’s only a few of these events each year or at least that I know of that take place in New York. What’s the point of attending? I would think that if you’re “into photography” as I am, the answer would be self-explanatory but the benefits are not always that transparent to people.
I can’t speak for why you should attend an expo because every person that attends typically have their own motive but I can share with you things to think about if you are attending PhotoPlus Expo this year or pretty much any conference.
Thinking About What You’ll Walk Away With
To me, attending a expo comes down to one thing: what you expect to gain. It’s like visiting a museum. If you’re unsure why you’re going or at least don’t have a vision for what you hope to see, it’s unlikely you’ll consider your time worthwhile. It’s ultimately up to us, the attendees to take more responsibility for getting value from the experience.
The registration for seminars at conferences alone can be very expensive, so last year I didn’t necessarily enlist for anything other than for the free pass to roam the floors amongst all the vendors and attendees.
Is it necessarily to enlist in seminars? If you can afford and justify the price, then probably yes but sometimes the greatest value of attending a expo can derive from something small and hopefully free. It could be from a conversation you had with a representative from a photo service you actively use (in my case, Moo Cards or Mpix) or from having shot a few frames with a lens you’ve read every spec on but can’t afford to buy yet. I love lingering around the Nikon booth testing out lenses. This year, the one I’m eager to play with is the 17-55mm f/2.8.
Either of these 2 circumstances can haunt you in a positive way as you head back home or to your hotel room because it could have the potential to push you in a new direction photographically. Or maybe the benefit of attending came from socializing with someone that stood behind you on a line as you were waiting to fill up you goodie bag even more.
The point is that you never know what could happen but I do know that I’m always enthusiastic about attending anything photography related because the consequence of serendipity is sometimes a brilliant discovery.
I Wanna to Meet You
Networking is such an invaluable thing for those that care about it but why wouldn’t you? Photography, by its very nature, is a solitary profession. Unless you have full crew with you in studio or even on location, for the most part, we work alone, so it’s a wonderful thing, meeting with folks who have the same ambitions, needs, problems, and lifestyles as we do.
Enough can’t be said about the high potential of meeting people who can literally move your career or just expand your hobby to the next level. From the interactions I’ve had with people online, I’ve realized that photographers are absolutely generous and are happily willing to share hard lessons, techniques and other little secrets with you as long as you’re interested in listening to begin with.
It is a personal investment to attend an expo. Whether you attend for a full or maybe just half a day, it will involve investing time, energy and a bit of money but what you can walk away with can mean even more. There’s probably more that you’ll learn from attending than all the books and blog post you can read in a day, especially if you’re able to leave with new motivation, new opinions and ideas that you hope to implement in future work.
I probably won’t know anyone but as its generally the case, I’ll have with me a few Moo Cards to exchange with those who I strike a random conversation with.
Browsing the Exhibitor’s List is always exciting too. I’ve learned so much about certain products within a year that it’ll be great putting a face to them. I’m looking forward to be around the FujiFilm booth, Gitzo, Blurb, Mpix and anyone who has a camera bag attractive enough for me to consider buying regardless of whether I may need it or not.
Most importantly if you’re going, I’m always up for meeting up. I’ll be there Saturday, Oct 29th.