Speaking at the Photography Show NEC Birmingham 2015

There are two main photographic conventions each year in the UK. These are the Photography Show (held at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham) and The Societies Convention (held in central London every January). Both of these events differ slightly, which is a good thing if your leanings sway one way or the other. The Societies Convention is geared towards aspiring and established professional photographers, and you’ll see all the latest offerings from the leading framing and album suppliers, as well as lighting, backgrounds, and pretty much anything the professional photographer will require. The Societies Convention also offers several days of business classes and dozens of masterclasses, and half day and full-day superclasses.

The Photography Show on the other hand is very much about equipment, it’s a gear-head’s dream. It’s a great place to get some fantastic bargains if you’re hankering after a new camera or set of lenses. It appeals hugely to both hobbyist photographers and professionals, who attend on designated days. The Show also has a phenomenal range of speakers – the lectures take place in designated stands and areas dotted around the show.

I attended this year at the invitation of Olympus (for whom I’m currently a brand ambassador) and I was delighted to present a lecture on animal photography. Examples of my pet and wildlife work can be seen on our dedicated website area.

I had one basic aim – I wanted to inspire the photographers who attended my class to get out and photograph some animals, big or small. It’s true to say that many of the people who meet me either think I’m a domestic pet photographer, or a wildlife photographer who visits far-flung exotic locations. In reality, I’m neither. I’m a portrait photographer who dedicates quite a lot of time to photographing the animals I come across in my locality. This can be pets (of almost any type) through to wild birds and indigenous fauna. For that reason, my presentation included a selection of images of animals which were taken within an hour of my home in West Sussex. Worthwhile animal photography opportunities exist everywhere, from our own backyards to the local animal park or sanctuary. I teach simple repeatable concepts which delegates can go out and practice straightaway. Hopefully we’ll be running some great workshops later in the year, and we do have a limited number of one-to-one tuition slots as well.

I’ve been a micro four thirds user for the last two and half years – ever since the weight of my DSLR equipment became too much for me to manage. I’ve been delighted by the performance of my OMD cameras and lenses. There are brand ambassadors of many types, from employees of a company through to independent photographer ambassadors such as myself, who are growing their careers around a system they genuinely believe in. This puts us in a fantastic position to talk about how we use our kit in our day-to-day professional lives, and to instruct existing and potential micro four thirds users on how to get the best from their equipment.

I don’t mind saying the Olympus presence at the Show was stunningly impressive. The marketing team did an amazing job of providing a large stage, a demonstration area with the technical team on hand, professional photographers to advise visitors, entertainment, a camera cleaning and service area, an exhibition wall and a stylish seminar room. Wow! There was also a brilliant massage team who thoughtfully eased the tensions of anyone who had been carrying their DSLR around all day. And there were a few of them, I can tell you. No irony there, then.

I attended the Show from Sunday lunchtime to Monday afternoon, so on the Sunday I went to photographer Ben Russell’s class where Ben described how photography became a big part of his life as a result of his and his wife’s interest in gardening and natural produce. And of course wood turning for which he is also incredibly talented. This has resulted in Ben becoming one of the most published photographers I have ever met. There were other brilliant talks from fellow Olympus Ambassadors as well as the legendary Damian McGillicuddy who was incredibly busy on the main Olympus stage, showing his audience simple but stunning lighting techniques which can be carried out with minimal equipment and inexpensive lights.

Sunday afternoon saw me interviewed by the local television crew.