I made tracks for Birmingham this morning to attend Future Publishing’s new event “The Photography Show”, with one of my friends in tow. While the mainstay of the show is the range of products on display, my interest in going was to attend one of the seminars.
Like many photographers, I cut my teeth looking at copies of National Geographic as a child. The photographs in those pages burned into my brain, and encouraged a feverish curiosity in the world that stays with me to this day. I appreciated those photographs before I really understood photography as a craft.
There are two photographers who I later learned were responsible for a huge number of the images I remembered. The first was Joe McNally. When you approach the world of Nikon’s Creative Lighting System, you are going to come across his name pretty quickly. He’s an absolute wizard with this system, and has used small flashguns for some really amazing projects. Pretty much every flash or studio shot I’ve ever been involved in has been aided by his experience (“Hot Shoe Diaries” is indispensable reading). As well as being a true creative, he’s as mad as a box of frogs. So it was always going to be worth a drive to go and watch him present a talk on his photographic journey. We weren’t disappointed. The talk was excellent and was accompanied by McNally’s outstanding images and frequent off-beat humour. It was enlightening to hear someone “in the know” describe the pleasure’s and pitfalls of working for some of the world’s most famous publications as you might expect to hear about any employer.
But it got better. McNally introduced himself to as many as he could before the show (myself included), and was happy to chat and pose for photographs afterwards. Furthermore, the other influential photographer I mentioned was watching the same seminar, and just a few seats away. Steve McCurry is responsible for some of the finest portraits of the 20th Century, and perhaps none is more famous than “Afghan Girl”, which graced the cover of National Geographic in June 1985. I was not yet four when it hit the shelves, so it was waiting patiently for me when I began to wonder what the significance of the yellow-spined magazines on my father’s bookshelf was. McCurry has a command of colour which is second to none. He also happens to be my friend’s favourite photographer of all time, and it was a pleasure to photograph Ian with his hero. This was an unexpected treat, since we’re unable to attend McCurry’s seminar tomorrow. If I’d have thought I would have the opportunity to photograph two such highly regarded photographers, I’d have packed a flashgun of my own! As it was, I had to settle for mixed temperature lights and the VC in my 24-70mm. Thankfully it was up to the task.
Of course, I also had a chance to have a look at some fantastic gear. I had a play with the Nikon D4s – and immediately wished I hadn’t, as I came away with a serious case of the gimme gimmes – and checked out the Tamron 150-600mm. Although I wasn’t able to try a Nikon sample, I have to say that my first impressions were excellent. It’s certainly robust, but not so heavy you can’t hand-hold it; has a very solid construction, and considering it’s got a maximum aperture of F/6.3 when racked out, the autofocus locks on almost instantly. I’m very eager to try it out, since it’s pitched to be a bit of a game-changer in terms of quality for cost.
It was a fantastic day out, and Future Publishing are to be commended for the range of speakers and vendors on display. The Photography Show certainly exceeded my expectations, and I’ll be watching out for next year’s event.