Christmas Is Dead – Long Live Focus
The last mortal remains of the turkey have long been consigned to a black plastic bag and you’re anticipating the unwelcome thud of a dozen credit card statements landing on your doormat – time for Focus On Imaging 2011.
Focus is, despite all my best efforts, an unmissable event in the annual calendar. This year it’s 6th-9th March and as usual is to be held at the NEC in Birmingham (Halls 9 & 10) – so I can’t even blame excessive travel for my non-attendance.
Nope, I’ll be there, just as I am ever year, tutting under my breath, grumpy old man-style, as I realise the absence (or scaled-down presence) of another big name of the photographic world compared with the year before… But there’s always something new to take it’s place.
Focus, even if you don’t actually buy anything, is a very good barometer of what’s happening in photography. Trends in framing, software, presentation, albums, printers etc are apparent by simply seeing who’s there and what their new lines are.
I always – always – leave my credit card at home. This is dangerous turf for the impulse buyer. There are usually lots of great deals to be had (even if you have to search a few out – some you don’t get unless you ask) and if something is too good to miss but exceeds my day’s self-allocated pocket money, it’s often possible to arrange to buy after the event. If not, I’ll come back (your pass isnt day-specific but is scanned on the way in).
Previously seen deals include: rucksacks free with 6 month camera mag subscriptions, five Fuji 120 films for a fiver, half-price books, great discounts on memory cards, bundles of magazine back-issues at mad-cheap prices (I stock up my reading material for the next 6 months), and good reductions on memberships to the RPS and trade organisations.
Here’s my Focus tips…
- Pre-register online. It will save you ages in the queue. It’s also £2 cheaper if you’re a non-trade visitor and you pre-register (£8 instead of £10).
- Go by train if you’re fairly local. Even if you go by car, there’s quiet a walk to the halls.
- Take an empty satchel and start by walking around picking up ever leaflet and brochure you see. Then scan these over coffee and decide who you want to re-visit.
- If there’s a presentation or demo you definitely want to attend, pre-book.
- NEVER go at the weekend unless you really have to. This is when the amateurs bring their kids along. Whenever you go it’s a bun-fight but always worse at the weekend.
- Get along to the Disabled Photographers Society’s stand. Not only does this organisation do some great work, but if you get there early in the show, they sell off all their unwanted kit – a friend of mine always makes a bee-line for this stand and stocks up on tripods and kit bags for a few quid each.
- Unofficially, a fair bit of haggling goes on at Focus. Listen out and you’ll hear it going on. Try – you never know.
- Click here to visit the Focus website – http://www.focus-on-imaging.co.uk/home.htm
and the Disabled Photographers’ Society – http://www.disabledphotographers.co.uk/