Saturday I attended the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographer (SWPP) convention at the Novotel Hammersmith. I heard about the SWPP convention from the London Photography Meetup Group when a mailing was sent out about it. They mentioned the Trade Show days, which were free admission if you registered to attend before the end of December, usually had some good deals as well as some talks and demonstrations. I figured that for the outstanding price of free, I would give it a whirl and see what it was all about. Worst case, I lost a couple hours of my Saturday to something unhelpful, which happily was not the case.
When I first arrived I’ll admit to being a bit overwhelmed. There was a lot of people, which I expected for a Saturday, but it also took me a few moments to get my bearings as it seems I didn’t enter through one of the main doors and so was a bit at a loss of where to start. But a bit of randomly picking a direction later followed by the more helpful acquisition of a guide book for the show, I was set. It took a bit of finess to work out where the scheduled talks where as you had to find the stand that it was being held at and the stands themselves were not marked with numbers, which would have been helpful. But I found the stand only to discover the company hosting the talk had completely changed around their schedule, which I actually didn’t figure out until later when trying to attend another talk they had been scheduled to give.
However I did make it to a couple talks at the Bowens stand throughout the day and they were pretty good demo sessions. They had photographer Jon Gray doing several 15 minute or so talks and demonstrations on working with models and studio lighting. Though hearing older male photographers talk about edgy lighting in fashion shots with that kind of “oh those young kinds and their nonsense” kind of way makes me crack up a bit, he was really good to listen to. He would do a bit of talking and some shooting with the model in their little pop-up set. The camera was lynced through a laptop so they could project the images as he shot them on two tv screens on either side of the stage. It was really cool to watch some ‘in action’ shooting going on as he explained things. After he finished, he’d let folks queue up to either take a try with his camera or with their own. I was really impressed and think it was a great way for Bowen to show off their product in a non-promo way.
As the convention was geared towards portait studio photography and wedding photography, there were a lot of stands of companies that do trade sales of albums, album printing, canvas printing, etc. around and about. I talked to a few of the canvas printing ones as I have been wanting to print a few of my shots up on canvas for a while now for both personal home artwork but also to just see how it comes out with the thinking that it could be an interesting thing to maybe sell in a market. I’ve got a couple discount codes from the show for some canvas prints so there may be some ordering in my near future to get off my butt and try it out.
Overall the day was really interesting. A lot of things were geared towards pros but I think that was educational in it helped me see a lot of the different aspects to think about regarding printing, lighting, etc. It also was helpful in learning about the many different companies there are out there for the various services and seeing some of their products in person. I did snag a couple things including a set of radio remote flash triggers and a copy of Expressive Photography: The Shutter Sisters’ Guide to Shooting from the Heart which was very well marked down in the SWPP book stand. So not bad for a day out. Next year I might consider paying for a day pass for their masterclass sessions to attend some of the actual learning sessions.