Well FOCUS 2011 was certainly worth going to for us, although it required quite a bit of organisation as it was the first weekend that Tini and me would have together without Benjamin and Benjamin’s first ever nights away staying with somebody else, namely his grandparents and aunty.. maybe I should have said ‘besotted’ there :-)
FOCUS was held at the NEC Birmingham and overlapped with the National Wedding Show. Which is a little unfortunate as this would have been useful for us to see what was being offered and also meet up with Richard Shephard another wedding photographer who I might work with in the future.
The idea was to go around FOCUS on the Sunday and pop into the Wedding show afterwards… Lets just say no chance! FOCUS is massive! Despite arriving virtually when it opened, we were there all day, visiting stalls, asking questions about products, listening to the odd free talk and generally getting an impression of what is available. By the time the day was finished and for us to check-in to our hotel (The Mint Hotel, Birmingham) we had a very heavy bag of brochures and samples, and planning what we were going to target to buy on the Monday and still needed to ask in between attending seminars.
I went to the set of seminars/talks given by Martin Oliver looking at his portrait business/model. His photography style is very similar to mine and we both have background in working with children (I’ve been a youth club leader for over 20 years) which help us to engage with children and get good photos. Tini had also heard him before (in a shorter talk) at the SWPP convention that we went to earlier this year. I won’t bore you with the details, but essentially I like his approach in being truthful and not hiding the cost of things and not having hidden charges. There’s also a few things he does I’m quite likely to start doing.
I’ve also become a member of the SWPP. I’ve been toying with the idea for a little while now and feel there might be some benefit to doing so, but I got a Lastolite trigrip reflector out of it :-) I would say ‘free’, but it reality its just a joining bonus.
Our big spend was on the upgrade of the studio lighting and getting some Elinchrom BxRi500’s and various accessories which will help me to shape and control the light.
In amongst the stands I was intrigued by Hähnel. I’ve always known them for supplying good alternative batteries to the branded versions, eg they do a replacement/spare battery for the Canon 5D Mark II and most other Canon and Nikon models as well as battery grips for these cameras. However, what really intrigued me was what they were showcasing which was the Inspire as well as the Giga T Pro and Combi TF. The Inspire is effectively a wireless remote camera release, but the release you hold in your hand shows a video image of the camera’s view. Cool! The Giga T Pro is a timer wireless remote, allowing you simply attach the receiver to the camera and you can then set the release to go off at set times and durations… how about a spot of stop motion of a flower opening or some star photography without hanging around the camera. The Combi TF is a simple wireless remote which allows you fire your flash off camera. As a very cheap alternative to Elinchrom’s skyport and Pocket Wizards for triggering speedlites, its definitely worth considering. I’ll post something another day about my research so far into Pocket Wizards and alternative wireless remote systems however Pocket Wizards have the advantage of being able to control the power output remotely to sets of speedlite flash units, although this is done through a separate unit the AC3 Zone controller.
Did Benjamin enjoy his weekend? I get a strong impression he did from his grandparents and aunty, but they are looking forward to catching up on their sleep.