I have just returned from Photokina, which is/was the bi-annual place to be for everything photography and I was going to write a roundup of the 2018 edition. That was until I realized that I didn’t have pictures of new gear, busy halls and lavish booths. That’s probably because I personally don’t care much about those things. And I’m probably not alone since the show has been shrinking with every edition. So I’ve decided to write down some kind of open letter to Photokina and the industry at large. My usual readers may not be interested in it and I’m pretty sure the Photokina bosses have more important things to do than to read a simple photographers’ blog, but you never know.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Photokina but mainly for it’s side effects rather than just halls full of stuff. And I think it’s those side effects that Photokina should focus on more.
I can go into full gear nerd mode with the best of them, so the gear has to stay. The internet can just not give you that experience of actually feeling if that camera seems to be molded for your hands or if that promising tripod feels like shit. But the hands-on experience can be better. Not everyone wants to shoot one of the senseless things that most manufacturers offer at a show (a guy repairing a motorcycle, what the hell?). We need more studio sessions, photo walks, borrowing/renting services and things to photograph that fit our interests.
Fujifilm presented prototypes of the GFX50R and announced the development of a 100 megapixel GFX. We need more of that, we want to have an idea of future development so we can plan our investments better. And for the manufacturers it’s a perfect opportunity to get tons of feedback.
I’ve spent most of my time at this Photokina watching presentations and demos of my fellow X-photographers. I’ve learned so much from these passionate people and I’m glad Fujifilm is continuing to invest heavily into an impressive speakers line-up but it should be a Photokina-wide experience. We need an overview of all the lectures, demos and workshops that are going on and we need more of them and more variation. We also need better spaces to do them so it doesn’t feel like you are attending a lecture while AD/DC is sound checking 10 meters away.
There are a ton of pictures on walls at Photokina but the majority just isn’t that good. There are a few exhibitions like the Home project that Magnum did with Fujifilm, but not nearly enough. Why not get museums and curators involved, they are way better at putting an inspirational show together than the average marketing manager or stand designer.
Photokina is the place where photographers from all over the world come together. It’s great to see great friends again after two years and make new ones. And it’s not just photographers that meet, people from all corners of the industry come together. Unfortunately Photokina isn’t the most social place. The good weather allowed us to talk outside, away from the constant noise of the show. But if it rains there isn’t much social space left. If you are hungry you’ll have to wait in a long line until you can spend way too much money on bad food. This can’t be too hard to fix.
EXPLORATION & TRAVEL
Cologne isn’t a bad town, the light can be pretty nice when the sun is out. But let’s be honest, it’s not exactly a bucket list destination. For international guests it’s also a pain to travel to. Why not take Photokina on the road? One year in Berlin, the next year in Barcelona, then Prague, …
A lot of photographers like to travel and a trade show in a new exciting location might just be the excuse we need for a trip.
I don’t know about you but if I feed my system with inspirational lectures, beautiful pictures, deep conversations and new technical options, I just want to go out and shoot. We need more to shoot at and around Photokina. A change of location would help but also Photokina should move away from confining the event to the walls of the Koelnmesse. Sports photographers could test out gear and learn new skills at a football game, street photographers could explore the city with a local photographer, landscape shooters could enjoy the sunset over the river together, …
Enough rambling for today. In the next post, I will show you some of the images that I made on the Fuji Studio stage at Photokina with just some stuff from IKEA as light modifiers. In the mean time, I’d love to hear how you would improve Photokina.
I’ll leave you with some more images