Thursday, 22 March 2018

Visiting the Photo Days convention

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I had wanted to go to the Photo Days, previously the Imaging Days, for a few years now. But the date never worked out. 
This year we had no plans on that weekend, so I talked Bert into going on Saturday the 10th of this month. 
Click to find out whether or not that was the right decision.
Photo Days 

We've been to Brussels Expo tons of times before, but for some reason, the satnav decided to send us a totally different way this time. And as these things go, we noticed rather late. But we did get there, sort of, as we ended up at Hall 6' parking and the Photo Days were at Hall 4.
The guy at the parking lot wouldn't even let us park there, because it was the parking for Hall 6 and not 4 where we had to be (which is absolutely ridiculous because you can totally walk from 6 to 4) so he sent us on our way to the Emperess Charlotte avenue. It was alright, because the parking there was the same price and it was right accros the street from Hall 4. Oh well. We were parked super close to the Atomium though, so I took some photos :). 

We went to the press desk right away and the kind lady there gave us two press badges to wear. She was super friendly, and I promised to return the badges when we left so they could be used again. And then we went in. 
Whilst Photo Days is one of the bigger photography conventions in Belgium, and it is in fact a con for professionals (in theory), it's actually quite small. 
Hall 4 is far from the biggest hall of the Brussels Expo (aka Heysel) complex and the whole back end of it was taken up by the Drone Days. 

Nevertheless, all the big brands had a stand there in some capacity or other, as well as a ton of shops. 
There will be a proper review in BCM, because I feel that there are a lot of people passionate about photography in the J-culture community that could benefit from reading about this convention, mostly to see if it's for them or not, so this post is my personal impression and nothing else.

Photo Days

Photo Days

Photo Days 

First of all, the Canon stand. 
That was hand's down my fave. 
The people there were super friendly, and you could try out all their vlogger/blogger models as well as DSLR's and all their lenses at the main stand. You could even let them put one of the test lenses on your own camera to see how you liked it with all your settings. 
AND they had booked a steampunk circus group to pose for visitors. 
So you could immediately photograph models with the things you were testing too. That was a really nice touch. 

Aside from that, they had a table set up with some of their portable printers that print postcard sized photos and everyone was welcome to test them and make a print of choice from their SD card or via wifi. 
I made a print of a photo of Loa cat via SD. 
It was a little tricky to work with, but luckily one of the Canon guys was there to help me out (much obliged kind sir). I gave the photo to Bert's nan, who thought it was awesome.

Photo Days 

On the other side of the main stand, there were two studio set-ups where they would give demonstrations of studio work with a model (Noémie). 
We missed the first workshop, but we did catch the second one. 
Well I caught nearly all of it, Bert was photographing models at another studio set-up. I really liked the workshop Pascal was teaching, because he was explaining things really well, and he was also teaching etiquette of working with a model in shoot capacity etc. 
As well as giving modeling tips (mostly for photographers so they would know how to ask for poses, but I found it practical too for BCM shoots, and heck, even to get nice outfit or makeup shots!). 
Basically I watched most of that, and when he started techno studio babble, which means nothing to me, I went and found Bert (who I had been trying to text because I managed to snag him a REALLY good spot). 
Luckily by the time we got back, most people had fobbed off because they had zero interest in the workshop and just wanted to shoot the pretty girl. 
I know it's terribly dry of me to put it like that, but it was the truth, the end. 
So Bert actually participated in the rest of it, and got to shoot Noémie in studio capacity, whilst Pascal actually talked him through settings and such.

Photo Days 

Not Bert's photo, but I liked this set-up of one of the printers so I took a photo.

And then, because he had a Canon camera (it didn't matter that he was using a Tamron lens) he got to choose a photo from the small series he shot of Noémie and get it printed on large format on the fancy new printer Canon had brought! Of course, everyone was allowed to take model shots, but only people with a Canon camera got a print. And not all the studio equipment you could try out was compatible with all models etc too of course. I thought it was a splendid workshop! And I got Pascal's card so Bert can do a full day workshop with him another time. So kudos to Pascal and Noémie and everyone else working on the stand! I don't know their names, but the guy manning the printer was also super nice, as was the guy popping in to see if everything was still working fine, and Pascal's assistant. 

Photo Days

Outfit: 10.3.2018 

Hat: vintage/thrifted Glasses: Theo 
Top: Primark 
Necklace: Disney Store Japan 
Skirt: made it myself 
Petticoat: American Apparel 
Bag: Zatchels 
Tights: Teja Jamilla 
Boots: Palladium 
Accessories: ASOS, Han Cholo, Disney Store Japan, Il Mezzometro, handmade, customised, Decathlon, Roxy 

My second fave was the Fujifilm stand, because they had an entire back wall with photography set-ups. Including a part with a book print. 
Sadly my outfit shot came out super washed out. 
But I took a photo of two of the steampunk models (not from the Canon stand, as my friend Lora pointed out last weekend, steampunk is super hip in photography right now, and it showed at the event). 

And an instax wall and table. They mostly seemed to have instax and printing stuff on display to be honest. I'm actually not sure if you could buy anything.

Photo Days

Instax square fun 

They also had a smaller, separate stand for their other upscale cameras. They really seemed to be mostly banking on their instax range though. 
And of course, Bert and I (mostly I and he went along with it) couldn't resist getting a souvenir photo taken at the instax stand.

Photo Days 

For the rest of the convention, I had hope to find at least SOME analog photography. Well ok, I hadn't expected to find a ton, but at least more than a little bit at a stand that amongst others carried Ilford and then a little bit of Polaroid Originals. I had half expected to see Lomography there at least. Not that I care about Lomography mind.

photobooth fun 

We did find two photobooths, one with a green screen.

photobooth fun 

And another one where you could do multiple photos on one sheet by photo-me. I like their multiple photo booths you find in some cities (there's one in London that is a particular favourite, although I'm not sure it's still there), but this one just went far too fast. Nevertheless, good times :).

Photo Days

Photo Days 

A lot of stands were shops selling camera equipment. And then Nikon had a service desk and a large stand where you could mostly watch a photographer shoot a model. You could find an available spot and also shoot the model, but I felt like Canon was doing a way better job.

Photo Days 

Some other stands also had models and some shops, mostly those selling studio equipment did too. 
Bert had a grand old time shooting all of them, because it's not an opportunity he gets often. And I feel like it's great that they have these set-ups, because it at least gives people the opportunity to try things before they spend money on them. 

Now for the part that is likely not going to make me popular at all. 
I feel like you had three kinds of people that visited the event. 

First you had the proper professional photographers and the passionate enthusiast, who were going for the opportunity to shoot under different circumstances and/or learn something new or see what's new with different brands. Totally fine of course. 

Then you had people that had come along with a friend or partner, or parent and might or might not be crazy about photography. I hope they weren't too bored if they weren't. But you know, with the photo booths, cafés and comfy seats all over, I feel there could have been worse places for them if it wasn't really their thing. 

And last but not least: the creeper with the camera. 
Sadly there were so, so many of them. In the first 20 minutes I was there, at least 11 people shapped my photo as I was passing by. 
No one asked if I was ok with it, no, they just went for it. Mind you, I was talking to Bert most of the time so I'm pretty sure all of those photos were unflattering AF. 
Secondly, the first times I had the misfortune of communicating with them, they spoke to my chest, not to my face. I wasn't wearing anything even remotely revealing. 
The most poignant example of this kind of BS was later on our visit, where Bert was shooting some models at a stand. I snapped one or two photos, and the stand owner shows up. Stands way too close to me, talks to my chest and offers to let me use "the latest external flash". Now, I had been at Pascal's workshop, so I knew full well that flash wasn't compatible with my camera, but no, the dude insists it is. I politely thank him for the offer and point out that the should offer my husband to use it instead because he's the one with the professional camera. He gives me the foulest look and wanders off. Did he offer Bert to use it? No. Of course not. 

So yeah, I don't mean to be rude or mean to anyone, but I did notice that there's a lot of dudes out there that have bought an expensive camera and use it as an excuse to be lecherous towards women. And I'm not ok with it. 
The fact that most of the models wore sexy outfits is no excuse what so ever.

The creeps being around is obviously no fault of any of the brands present, nor of the organisation, I want to make that abundantly clear. 
I don't fault them for anything, because I think it was a really fun event if you're _really_ into photography. 
Not if you're into analog mind, but if you like to follow the latest developments in digital and you like playing around with equipment you don't have at home, like Bert and I, then it's a good time for sure. 
I'd go back, and I know Bert DEFINITELY wants to go back. 

And yes, I did return the press badges, in the same state we got them (pristine). 

But yeah, for a proper review check the next edition of BCM (where there is NO ranting about creepy dudes, but rather a proper review of the event and nothing else), out April 10! 
All my photo of the event are in this set on flickr :)


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