Photokina

Photokina is the biggest photography/video expo in the world. It takes place every second year in Cologne, Germany and it’s the place to be if you want any part in where the industry is heading, or even if you just like photo/video gadgets. 

I’m really late to post about Photokina, but, since this is partly my personal diary, here it goes anyway.

Why was I at Photokina?

The photos I shot for the campaign were printed and placed next to the camera at the Panasonic booth. The prints were pretty great quality, so that was really cool.

I was invited to Photokina by Panasonic because Jacob James and I shot a campaign for their new camera – the Panasonic Lumix G80/85. My mugshot was on the posters, some of them rather large. And they were everywhere. Of course I was not very recognisable, since my eyes were covered with the camera. Maybe for the better. It was all very weird and kinda cool, in a weird way… 

The photos I shot for the campaign were printed and placed next to the camera at the Panasonic booth. The prints were pretty great quality, so that was really cool.

Above are the photos in their digital form and below... well they're in their physical form digitised. 

My job was to do a presentation (along with Jacob) about my experience with the G80/85 and to talk about the way I’ve used Lumix cameras in general. Obviously, Panasonic knows that I genuinely love their system, as does Jacob. They wanted us to share some of that love with whoever visited the booth and listened to us.

A bit about the G80/85

To be honest there's one thing I'm not a fan of with the G80/85. It's the DSLR form factor. I prefer the rangefinder-like design personally. Apart from that, it’s an amazing camera. Great for stills. Great for video. That stabilisation makes a HUGE difference. There’s a proper mic input too. It’s a little like a scaled down version of the GH4. Minus some video features, but with a crazy stabiliser, which is a game changer for me. 

As I said during my talk at Photokina – If I could only take one camera and needed photos and video, I’d take the G80/85. In fact, I'll probably take it anyway and it’ll replace the GH4 for me.

Ok, so I’m really cynical

The problem was that all of us were doing the same thing and hearing too much of the same thing bores me to tears.

I’ve spent much of the past few years away from big cities, crowds… anything resembling a huge event like the Photokina. A few years ago I’d be walking around an expo like this with a huge grin, excited beyond words to be amidst all the technology, among some very talented and accomplished folks who love the same stuff as I do. Actually, I did enjoy the people a lot. But… I was overwhelmed by the technology, the abundance of it.

There were so many halls. Almost every brand I ever heard of was represented. Plenty of brands I never heard of were represented too. I didn’t know where to begin. For me this was a perfect example of too much of a good thing being (somewhat) bad. 

Then there were the speakers. Like myself other photographers/videomakers talked about how much they love this and that piece of equipment and how it’s changed their life and it's the best thing since sliced bread.  I’m sure that most people were as genuinely excited as me about their gear. The problem was that all of us were doing the same thing and hearing too much of the same thing bores me to tears.

If I do this again, I’ll think of something more entertaining. I don’t know, maybe I should do a dance or bring a pony. Open to suggestions. 

What I liked

  • I really enjoyed interacting with the fellow Lumix ambassadors. There’s a certain kind of bond between guys/girls that shoot similar stuff. I definitely felt it.
  • I loved the Leica photo gallery. Great space. Very good prints of some of the all-time legends of photography. Full of impact. Classy. What you’d expect from Leica. 
  • I liked the Panasonic booth. Of course I'm biased, but, one can’t deny that there’s something great about the combination of beautiful prints and a very accessible display of the latest cameras and lenses. Some brands tried to be too clever and being too clever can be a hit and miss. Panasonic went for substance over trying to impress. A bit like they approach their cameras, I suppose. 
  • Though I much prefer the outdoors and beautiful scenery, it was pretty cool to be indoors in this case – a dynamic environment related to the thing I love – photography. 
  • This time of year in Cologne is really nice. Cologne itself was surprisingly nice. It was pretty gloomy when I got off the plane, but once the sun came out it stayed out. The walks through the park near my hotel were really pleasant, as was getting lost a couple of times on the way to the venue.  

What I regret. lesson learnt

Before I went to Photokina I heard it was the place to meet people, to network, to connect. What I didn’t realise was just how huge the whole thing was. I thought I might just bump into folks, chat and do the networking that way. WRONG!

Almost everyone had set up meetings before the event. Then someone would know someone and there would be more meeting and connecting. Another mistake was that even if I did get a chance to meet someone at the event, I wouldn’t  know where to start, what to talk about, what to ask. Did not do my research. 

I know a few freelancers who want to visit Photokina to further their careers. The lesson I learnt is – if you are going, do your research. Decide who you want to meet and what you want beforehand. 

Some great photographers to check out

As I mentioned, one of the highlights for me was meeting some of the other Lumix ambassadors. I connected with a lot of the guys, but two in particular stood out to me as photographers. Probably because they do similar work to me, or, work that I want to be doing. I really recommend you check them out. 

Mikolaj Nowacki 
Daimon Xanthopoulos

Conclusion

I guess Photokina lived up to the hype. It was BIG. Overwhelming in fact. The funny thing is that just as I started to get used to it all, it was all over. Will I be back in 2018? No idea.