I presume most readers know that Photo Plus Expo has just ended at the Javits Center in New York City. The biggest photo trade show in the U.S., it used to be held on Halloween weekend every year, which is why I never got to spend Halloween with my son when he was young. I miss my annual pilgrimages to New York City—my brother lived there during the years I attended the show—and I miss my visits to MoMA and other museums, but I don't miss Photo East (what the show used to be called) itself. I like looking at pictures, not equipment. By the end of the first day, I'd always know exactly where the (usually very few) exhibits of work were in the hall; the endless aisles of equipment I always found boring. Equipment is fun, sometimes, but mostly it's a necessary evil in photography. I certainly can't get excited about the umpteenth flash unit or camera bag I'm confronted with, much less 90% of the "stuff" you encounter at such shows. It's the place to be for a crash course in what's what in the current marketplace, and there are always some interesting things there. For the most part, however, I found it challenging to maintain an outward appearance of interest.
PDN Online has some videos online of some of the choice items from this year's show.
Featured Comment by Bruce Appelbaum: "Living near NYC, I have been going for many years. Even though I am not in the photo business, I manage to get a free Expo-only pass. I generally go on the Friday, and try to get there as early as possible.
"I got there a few minutes before 10 a.m. on Friday, and the rent-a-cops were enforcing the 'pay to get in early' rule. In an inimitable NYC style. (Once upon a time, I could scam my way inside before 10 by walking in backwards—really!) By the time 10 a.m. rolled around, there were hundreds of folks champing at the bit to get in and there was a stampede when the velvet rope was pulled aside. I think next year I'll pay the $30 for the quiet hour.
"This year's show was more lively than those in previous years. The Adobe, Canon, and Nikon booths were jammed and there were lots of 'celebrity' photographers shilling, er, I mean promoting for them. For example, Joe McNally, who is a great speaker, was doing a booth an hour for different vendors, as well as presenting two-hour workshops.
"One of my show 'barometers' is the Kodak booth. Kodak was closer to the front entrance than in the last few years (still giving away film), Hasselblad was in the back and hard to spot if you weren't looking for them. Fuji was also representing film (as well as digital).
"Not much activity to be seen at Leica. Sony had a big presence, as did Olympus and Pentax, but most of the buzz was at Canon and Nikon, who had the aforementioned celeb photographers.
"The most innovative award would go to Casio. They had a team of cheerleaders who, every 15 minutes, would throw the smallest of the group (and she was très petite) into the air and then catch her. I watched this for a while, and it reminded me of nothing else than midget hurling (which I have never seen, but have heard alluded to). She went up, she came down, and it seemed to me that she was close to an unhappy end because some of the catches were a bit less graceful than others.
"There seemed to be fewer photo exhibits this year, and some were associated with the vendors' booths. But there were some nice photos to be seen.
"One thing I always find amusing—there is a no-photography rule at the Expo. The vendors don't want people taking pictures of their products. The amusing part is always the couple of dozen people who show up with massive Nikon cameras coupled to massive telephoto lenses. Who can't use them inside. And why would they? The Javits Center is one of the least photogenic sites in the universe.
"There was a very interesting slate of workshops this year. I haven't gone to any in the past, and although some looked interesting, $100 for a two-hour talk seemed a little steep to me. I had seen Joe McNally talk a few weeks ago at Adorama (a NYC and internet camera emporium), paid $25 for a two-hour talk and received a $25 coupon for a future purchase at the store. Did the same with Seth Resnick and Eric Meola at various times. Much more cost-effective, in my mind.
"All in all, it was an enjoyable two hour stroll through 14 or 15 long aisles of vendors. I picked up lots of literature to read on train during ride home.
"Not much in the way of giveaways (swag) this year (another one of my barometers). Nikon World calendars and Nikon lanyards, and Nikon pins galore. No Adobe calendars. Some inkjet paper samples from Harman, a few vendors giving away cheap ballpoint pens and candy, and that was about it.
"My take on the state of the photo industry: lots of new stuff out there, lots of keeping up with the Joneses. But there seemed to be an air of caution."