Focus on Imaging in Birminghams NEC is an annual pilgrimage for me. For the last few years it's been on the other side of the fence as it were, speaking on a stand. There's a bizarre comradery that comes from this with those on other stands. Still I know I'll be a punter again in the future.
My task was to speak on Photoshop twice a day for 4 days on the Phototraining4U Stand. In the morning class, I covered tips and tricks like B&W techniques, Cross Processing, retouching and making fake 3D B&W photos. In the afternoon I did a composite. The catch was that I'd never seen the photos before. I had to work with whatever had been shot on the stand. I don't even have copies of the final images.
The Phototraining4U team are a great bunch, and I'm very happy to be involved. There's 1400 films on the site covering a range of photo related topics from beginners, right through to business courses, as well as landscapes, weddings, fashion, portraiture etc. The top end subscription includes everything and is £129 (show offer was £99). They're morphing into the Photographer Academy this year, which adds photo critiques, and qualifications on top of the online video training.
Anyway, enough about what I was there for practically. I was also there to meet people. And boy did I! Besides the great gang that go to the Buxton training that I work on, there were also people like Glyn Dewis, Dave Clayton and Frank Doofhof. Frank was speaking on The Flash Centre stand promoting Elinchrom. I bought Frank's first DVD a long time ago, and many more since. His presenting style has matured so much, and he's a delight to watch. He's also very funny.
The PT4U stand was straight across from Lastolite (the Manfrotto stand to be exact), so I had regular chats with Gary Astill. Gary is the ideas man there and he is superb at his job. As well as the Urban Backgrounds that everyone was using on demos all over Focus, there were also the new softboxes that can be collapsed in to make a stripbox. Very versatile.
I have a set of the new Strobo Grids/Gels and snoot set, which I'll do a post on soon, as well as the new Trifold umbrella. These will be part of my demo kit for Glansevin (formerly Buxton!) next month. I'm considering bringing an OM-D based kit for this to travel as light as possible!
One person that I've know online for many many years is fashion photographer Jay McLaughlin. We've almost met once or twice, but it was great to finally meet in person. Jay did a superb talk on the Hasselblad stand, showing his fabulous work, and spoke about photography and making great photographs. I really enjoyed it. 2 other tweeters that I follow were there too, Model/Photographer Vicki Blatchley and Model Katie Green. Both were really nice.
I brought my OM-D-finally working after Iceland (Jay also use the OM-D as it happens). So I called by the OMD/Big Dog stand. The Big Dog (Damian McGuilicuddy) was on and off the stand with his Random Acts of Photography, getting in trouble for it too at one point!
New to Damian’s team in the studio is Charlie Edwards. Charlie has modelled for Damian for ages, and is now working for the studio. She’s also an amazing makeup artist. If you have my Essential Development eBook, you’ll recognise her from the retouch pages.
That's Charlie working on Zoe.
I also chatted to the onOne Software guys and girls quite a few times while there. The stand could be quiet or packed moments apart. I shot this view, and as I passed on the way back minutes later, it was jammed.
Overall the show didn't feel as busy as last year, and the crowds dispersed earlier. By 4pm most days the halls were quiet. There was still loads to see, though. I didn't really get out to see as much as I'd like, and more than once the queue at a stall saved me money!
If you’ve never been to Focus On Imaging, it really is a great show, and a great networking opportunity. My stint at Phototraining4U started because I had the preview copy of my Lightroom book to show Mark there one year. So mark it in the calendar for next year and go!