Here in the UK Focus on Imaging 2010 is just 3 days away. Last year 34254 photographers made the trip to the N.E.C. in Birmingham during the four day event. That’s a lot of photographers, but then there is a lot to see and do.
I’ve visited the event several times and from experience I know how overwhelming a day at Focus can be. It’s all too easy to get swallowed up in the crowds of people and the hundreds of exhibitors. In fact in the past I’ve come away wondering why I made the trip in the first place.
So if your planning to make a visit to Focus (or any trade show around the world) here’s my top 7 tips.
1) Plan of action
There is so much to see and so many people to talk to it’s all too easy to miss something important. Focus 2010 has a useful online floor plan which list of all the exhibitors. You can download it from here. Decide which vendors you want to visit and make a note of where they are.
2) Camera or no camera?
Although it’s a camera show there’s really nothing to photograph. Yes some of the stands will have mini studio shoots and models, but you’re unlikely to get anything more then a grab shot. Unless you need to bring your DSLR for a specific reason do yourself a favour and leave it at home.
3) What to wear.
It’s a long day and you’ll be on your feet a lot, so comfortable shoes and clothes are the order of the day. Don’t weigh yourself down with heavy bags either.
4) Eat & Drink
Food and drink at any trade show or conference is always going to be pricey and the NEC is no exception. Bring a packed lunch and a drink and spend the money you save on photo goodies. Just remember the car park is huge, so if you leave your lunch in the car you’re in for a long walk.
5) Arrive early
The earlier you get there the more you’ll get to see and do. In fact I often find I can get to talk to three or four key suppliers in the first hour of the show before the really big crowds arrive.
6) Research and budget
There really are some bargains to be had at the show. Discounts, offers and free extras are very common, but it makes sense to do your research before you go. If you’re looking for new kit, narrow the choice down by checking internet reviews. Have an idea of the best internet price before going to the show. Once at the show you’ll be able to get hands on the real thing and make an informed decision.
7) Listen to the talks
For me the very best part of any trade show is the free talks that many exhibitors lay on. Famous and talented photographers are on hand to pass on their knowledge and techniques throughout the day. It’s a great way to pick up new skills and see different styles of photography.