by Phil Jones Published 01/02/2007
Some years ago the Jones family had a vision. They would endeavour to nurture a representative organisation for photographers without politics or prejudice. They travelled extensively, particularly in the United States to learn how they could best achieve their goals and were most impressed with the 'Convention' culture they found there. Ambition is a wonderful thing and I am sure that the goal of organising the most impressive UK event was the pinnacle of their dreams.
January 2007 has seen the largest, most impressive and exciting event ever organised for photographers in Europe and by the published attendance figures virtually equates to that of their American counterparts. The words "you really had to be there" will be on the lips of so many people for many months to come. Registrations for the event broke all records and the torrent flowed throughout the event.
The Convention kicked off with a two day business school that was bursting at the seams. Top photographic practitioners and business people shared their experiences with enthusiastic audiences, and in a fun and action packed Q & A session moderated by Mitche Graf, pearls of wisdom flowed freely. The delegates were impressed and the lecturing team equally so. We can't wait to repeat and improve the experience next year!
Before we could catch our breath Friday was upon us and the massive trade show was in full swing. Two floors contained two hundred exhibitors to satisfy the curiosities and buying needs of an enthusiastic audience. The days of a simple table and a couple of chairs are virtually over with exhibitors installing most impressive stands and displays. The goal was to put before our trade partners a serious group of consumers and I hope we went some way to achieve this. On the subject of the trade, it is difficult to express in just a few words our gratitude for your enthusiasm and support. I can promise we will listen to you and do our best to react in pursuit of an even more impressive 2008 event.
A wealth of talent chaired by David Anthony Williams from Australia led an open judging for our first ever 20"x16" print competition. The audience were treated to a feast of knowledge and experience as the team sought worthy winners. Our thanks to you all.
From eight o'clock in the morning until the early evening there were seminars galore on a myriad of subjects enthusiastically received. It would be almost impossible to single out lecturers for a special mention as everyone gave their all. Best of all so many new friendships were formed and the cross fertilisation of ideas will evolve in fantastic new presentations in the future. OK, I give in; I'll mention my new mate Jerry Ghionis. Rarely have I met a photographer with so much energy who is so willing to give of his knowledge and experience so freely. Together with his equally dashing young partner in crime, Ryan Scembri, they portray a future for the industry that is bright and inspirational. One thing's for sure, when his dad Martin sees his mobile phone bill for his clandestine calls to his surfing buddies made in the wee small hours his pocket money will be stopped!
I cannot end without mentioning just a couple of other things. The fount of all learning, the soapbox and orators' arena....the bar! Arguably there is as much learned in that hallowed place as there is in the seminar programme itself. It has been years since I have personally witnessed the quality of banter, sharing and camaraderie in this country which has been sadly missed by some of us more seasoned campaigners. As the coordinated event itself is the body of a convention, the activities based around a lively bar are the heart that drives its blood, spirit and soul. Ideas, innovations and inspiration flowed as freely as wine and the satisfied smiles were the crowning glory.
The final night party saw tributes to absent friends and a stunning display from our members who are the new 'Masters of Professional Photography'. Now that sounds like a good title for next years awards!
To my friend, Walt Malone, our thanks for the hundreds of images that will keep our memories alive and press info packs flowing. To Phil & Juliet, from us all 'thank you'. Your energy, determination and dedication has brought about another revolution in the celebration of photography in Europe.
I neither want to ramble or wax lyrical any further. Suffice to say that all who were there have amassed a wealth of memories that we will treasure and new friendships to cherish. I for one can't wait for 2008!
The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
You have 60 days until The Societies of Photographers Convention starting on Wednesday 22nd January 2020