The Photography Show has and always will be one of the, if not the most, important events in the photographic industries calendar here in the UK. For 4 days, always Saturday to Tuesday, the industry meets at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham to share, socialise and spend some money on kit, talks and even holidays. 

This post includes our own run-down along with our top picks and our Demo in full. Navigate to a specific section if you don’t want to read it all:

Our Run-Down

In 2020 the event was cancelled because of you know what, and a virtual event happened in September instead. Then, the virtual event was re-run in March 2021 where I was invited to speak about the mental health research I had done. That talk is still watchable today here

However, 2021 had the real show scheduled in too, this time in September, and after being asked to speak on one of the stages, ideally to run a demo including dogs, Dan and I felt that actually, we may as well be there with a trade stand too. And so we did!

I don’t know how many of you have ever done trade shows like the ones at the NEC, but if you have, you’ll know that committing to being there without really planning how, why and what we were going to do is a bit silly. We enlisted an old family friend of Dans to design and build the stand, ensuring that there was a space suitable for an XL crate for the dogs to have rest and relaxation in when they were with us too. 

Tony did amazing and pulled out all the stops to pop our little stand together in a way that fitted the calibre of the event. So many other vendors came and took photos of it to ask their stand teams to do similar bits for them. One particularly stand-out element was the backlit HD image on the large panel. This caught so many eyes and we were super happy with how Harley looked in the Tog Spot yellow scene!

On the 4th day of the show, the electricity wasn’t working on the stand and at that moment we saw what a standard image would look like – blah. 

Anyway, stand aside, we also had to jump through a bazillion hoops with the help of Sophie, Richard and Andrea at the Photography Show team with the NEC crew who have very specific expectations of animals at the event. This is something that I totally agree with and actually, I really really like the things we were asked to do, prepare and provide. They included animal-specific risk assessments and welfare schedules/statements to ensure the wellbeing of the animals was the top priority. 

Now, the only dog we have that we know 100% would LOVE the environment at the show, because he’s been to similar things in the past, is Alfie. However, for the demonstration we had planned, Bryt was the best option due to her size. Therefore, we took a bit of a risk and actually brought both Alf and Beanie with us to the show on the condition that if either dog was uncomfortable, they would go home straight away. 

We really didn’t need to worry because actually, both of them completely exceeded our expectations both in terms of arousal at the event (strangely low!) and behaviour in general (25/10 from me). In fact, Bryt may just have outdone Alfie in terms of environment love and she gave it her all on the demonstration stage, not once but twice. 

By day 4 I had definitely run into the sleep-deprived stage of the event and I started to lose my voice. Thankfully, not before we’d done the midday demonstration on the Photo Live stage again. 

Over the course of the 4 days we met and spoke with so so many of the community at length. This was exactly why we had the stand so I’m so glad so many came to say hi! We also met a whole load of new faces who had never heard of That Photography Spot before from all different walks of life, ages, races, and genders. That’s what photography should be about – bringing people together under a shared love of the art form. That’s what it’s about for me and it was so very wonderful to see!

We enjoyed our time with everyone so much that we have secured the same space for the 2022 event, again in September, from the 17th to the 22nd. More on that early next year! Anyway, enough of me droning on, let’s look at some top picks: 

Top Picks from The Photography Show 2021

1. Wacom Clintiq Pro 24  < linked

Wacom Cintiq Pro 24": creative pen display | Wacom

This is something I think everyone should have on their dream wish list. I know it’s big and takes up a fair amount of space, but with 99% Adobe RGB colour, non-glare, full touch, swivel and stylus controlled screen, it would be the perfect addition to any professional studio workflow. After seeing it and trying it there at the event, it’s on my “please buy this” list for the new Studio we’re building here at HQ!

There is a desk arm available which makes the whole experience complete. Go check it out!

2. Olympus E‑M1X < linked

New OM-D E-M1X takes professional user needs in focus with enhanced  reliability and performance - Olympus EMEA

A lot of you know we were sandwiched between Olympus and Fuji so I absolutely HAD to go see both. On the Olympus stand, I saw this chunky body and asked for a mini demo to see how it stacks up to the other manufacturers. I have to say, the technology in this could really take our action photography to the next level if we’re not sure on where or when a subject is going to move.

A cropped sensor mirrorless, like Fuji’s range, it has the obligatory EVF but it has a handy little mode called ProCapture. At lightning speed FPS (like, 18 to 60 frames a second!), whenever you half-press the shutter the camera starts to shoot (without saving anything). You know when the action kicks off and you press that shutter but you’re a fraction of a second too late? Try again? No need – this camera saves some of those pre-shots so you have a continuous segment of time just before you pressed go, and afterwards too. For natural light action work, this is insane.

It’s hard to explain, I know – you’ll have to try one for yourself to really understand this tech!

3. Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 PRINTER < linked

I’ve always been an advocate of professional printing, but this printer surprised me with the most insane, accurate print reproduction I think I have ever seen. I headed over to the Canon stand with my MacBook and AirDropped a file to the print guy. I asked for matte and fairly large. In about 5 minutes, the stunning result was out and in my hands. I’m actually going to frame it here – it genuinely is beautiful and the colour, contrast and clarity are top-notch.

If you’re considering printing for yourself, this is a grade-A printer, and man, it is beaut. It is also on my studio wish list – check it out…

Photo Live Demonstration

This demonstration was recorded under conditions. It is only available to view by Members of That Photography Spot (MTog’s) so if you are one, log into the MTog Vault and find this matching post there, if not, check out more about membership here.