We visited the Photography Show at the Birmingham NEC last weekend. I was much more prepared this year, compared to last year which was my first visit. Using their app I planned back to back talks throughout the whole day - If there’s free knowledge available, I’m going to take full advantage!
Firstly, I went to a talk on the Super Stage called ‘Finding your (professional) voice on Instagram’ from Dan Rubin. Dan shared his experiences of being one of the original beta testers and very first Instagram users. He showed us how he developed his own style on Instagram and used it as a portfolio to get professional work enquiries. It wasn’t what I expected from the title but it was interesting to find out how far Instagram has come over the years and how someone is using the app as a tool to market themselves.
I then headed over to the Live Stage for a talk called ‘Who, why & how: the fundamentals of photographing people’ from Jay Mclaughlin, Fashion and Portrait Photographer. Jay had some great tips which made me think about the way which I interact with people during a photoshoot. He told us how important it is to create a relationship with your client and how to bring out natural emotion from them by telling them a story or a joke right before you take the shot. One of the things that really made me think about the way we interact with clients in the studio is the way we react to our viewfinders after every photo. I’ve been on the other side of the camera before as the model and it’s a daunting experience. Jay made a great point about taking a test shot first, looking at the viewfinder, telling the customer how wonderful it is (Even if you were on the total wrong settings and it’s mega overexposed!) then to just snap away for a few shots. It’s important once you know all the settings are correct to just snap away while chatting to the client, just checking them every so often. In theory you know your lighting is right so by not checking the viewfinder after every photo your taking away part of the barrier which is often created as soon as you hold up a big camera in front of your face. Another tip I took away from Jay’s talk was to always photograph women from a slightly lower angle because it makes them look empowered.
After the Live Stage, we headed over to the Behind the Lens Theatre for a talk by Catherine Connor, Founder of Aspire Photography Training on ‘Becoming the editor of your blog’. Catherine was a brilliantly confident speaker and she shared a lot of her own experience from writing her own blog. The main advice I took away from Catherine’s talk was to remember who your reader is. She advised us to make a mood board about who our reader is and what their interests are. Once you have a reminder of who the reader is, you can then focus your tone and subject matter towards those readers. I also really liked Catherine’s idea of taking notes of conversations that she has throughout the day and turning that into content for her blog. I think my content will feel more organic if it comes from conversations I have and questions I’m asked.
Next it was back over to the Live Stage to learn how to ‘Strike a Pose’ from Brett Florens, Wedding, Commercial, and Fashion Photographer. He began his talk telling us about working with high end clients and how we can tailor our services to their lifestyles. I’m not sure I’ll be flying out to Dubai any time soon like he does but it was a good point to treat your clients to the lifestyle they are used to, rather than your own. I liked the idea that when working with high end clients that your should surround yourself with the imagery that they are used to seeing. He often looks through high end magazines like Vogue and Harpers Bazaar and goes into Prada or Burberry, not with any intention to purchase anything but just to surround himself with the lifestyle they are used to. Brett then moved onto posing clients during shoots and taught us a few tips about body language, particularly for couples. He also reminded us that during couples photoshoots it’s important to get that photo for granny to put on the mantle piece as well as the romantic photo that the couple want.
Overall, the show this year seemed much more focussed on the talks and demonstrations, there were more stages and less stalls. You may think that would make the show feel less sales focused but I found a lot of the speakers salesey. Not necessarily the ones I mentioned above but some of the ones I walked past were definitely getting paid to promote certain products. It made you take their advice with a pinch of salt as they tried to make you think you couldn't achieve the shots without their products.