Phil Gresham (Fotofast) and John Swainston (Maxwell International), who participated in the PMA Photo Expo event in Brisbane as presenter and retail exhibitor respectively, contribute their impressions:
Phil Gresham, (Fotofast, Brisbane):
To be honest I was a bit concerned when the concept was first discussed. However the change in venue from the nearby TAFE to the Convention Centre along with the high calibre of speakers changed that.
We were aware of the success of the ticket sales so we knew we could expect a good committed group. The 1.8x.7m table was perfect for a small display of our products, mainly gifting, metal, canvas, etc.
With the limited space, standing in front of our display worked to approach customers with our sales pitch. It was an opportunity to show what we could do, we were local, produced orders in hours compared with up to two weeks. We handed out flyers to most about online ordering and our new location details. As a bonus we were able to get many to sign up for our online newsletter.
Talking to other exhibitors most were very happy with the day, excellent value for the money and time spent. The two camera retailers (Ted’s and DigiDirect) were kept very busy – even without hardware they wrote good orders for equipment. I understand that Bruce, the Ted’s Cameras Queensland manager, was ecstatic about the results.
John Swainston, (Maxwell International):
More than 300 Brisbane folk braved wet and windy weather last Saturday (August 23) to join Australia’s PMA team and some committed exhibitors from the leading camera and accessory brands at the Educational Photo Expo event
As a speaker at many trade events for PMA over the past 30 years, this was the first in Australia that embraced consumers exclusively in such an intimate way. My topic was ‘All you need to know about selecting the right gear for your next travel adventure.’ We took our attendees through iPhoneography, point & shoot, mirrorless, all-in-one megazoom SLR photography and ‘The Works’ – f2.8 glass where photography is the goal of the trip.
What impressed me was the deep knowledge of so many attendees. But for many others, they had come to this PMA event because even with the Internet and good dealers locally, they were not getting the broad answers they needed to properly assess what would work for them. As we’ve seen at past International PMA events, and indeed PRO get-togethers in the US, Camera House conferences in Australia, and I dare say Ringfoto member events in Germany, it’s this quest for knowledge that specialty retailers need to ramp up, to engage consumers who want to progress their image making, but don’t quite have the confidence to do it on their own. Photo education, and improved print services in many new forms were both high on the list of attendee priorities.
I didn’t get to see enough of the other presentations to be able to comment more broadly, except the fine talk on creating personal hard copy recipe books presented by the Momento Australia team. I loved that the illustrations were by Australian pro photographer Penelope Beveridge, an award-winning and highly respected food and fine art photographer. The combination of inspiring images with useful how-tos from Momento meant the audience found their way through perceived obstacles and were likely to go out and use the service. The ever-present former DIMA president Phil Gresham was there presenting Fotofast’s latest services, as was the venerable Streets Imaging pro lab group.
The new Fujifilm tabletop print machine at a very affordable price, offering 8-inch paper roll print abilities, attracted heaps of interest, as it opens up the world of ‘sweep panorama’ prints from iPhone and other smartphones, not to forget conventional digital cameras.
This will work for even the smallest of specialist retailers. Pro photographers interested in expanding their range of customer services could also use this as a custom print device based out of their studios. I came away with a strong impression that print and film-to-digital services are likely to see significant improvements in the next decade as Baby Boomers start on consolidating their life’s images across various media.
Canon, Fujifilm and Olympus were very evident with their interchangeable lens camera systems, while Nikon was represented by various retailer exhibitors, most notably Ted’s. Many people I talked with were coming from DSLR photography and especially interested in weight reduction in their future photography, as well as being less obtrusive. Vendors were able to show just how compact today’s mirrorless offerings are, as well as demonstrate outstanding image quality and affordability.
While I can’t say I saw every aspect of the day, the overwhelming impression was one of keen excitement, exhibitors who were happy with the quality of the attendees and their interest level, as well as an affordable cost to exhibit. If resources and funds had been more extensive, a fuller PR effort might have produced even higher numbers and a few pro attendees, through that was not the primary audience.
– As a first effort, pretty darn good.
Next up it’s Melbourne, on Saturday September 6 at Victoria University with another great group of speakers. My particular pick will be Canon Australia’s Jay Collier. His wildlife images are something to behold. For my own part I look forward to engaging with the many new customers to more advanced photography, for whom such events are a wonderful, uncomplicated way to engage with contemporary image making, whether from a smartphone or an advanced full frame DSLR.