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Bucking the Trend
At a time when there is so much economic gloom around, the latest Societies Convention has once again recorded excellent attendance figures with the show continuing to build its international reputation
Attendance figures from the tenth Societies Convention, held at the Novotel in west London in mid January, show that numbers remain buoyant despite the worldwide economic downturn. It’s estimated that over 12,000 photographers came through the doors to attend workshops, seminars, award presentations and the extensive trade show throughout the seven days of the event, demonstrating its continuing popularity amongst an expanding audience of professional photographers.
“My overall feeling is that this is a highly satisfactory result considering all the doom and gloom that is out there at the moment,” says Societies CEO Phil Jones. ‘Although numbers were slightly down on last year our trade partners were reporting that they were getting an even higher quality of visitor this time around, and they were showing a real interest in investing in their products.
“Meanwhile a much higher proportion of delegates this year were signing up for the educational elements of the show, such as masterclassses, full day seminars, the Business School and location shoots. The reason these were so popular, about 25% up on last year, was that we had sourced some really interesting locations for shoots and delegates were able to get far more personal tuition at these events. Very often they also had the chance to shoot pictures for their own portfolios and websites while they were attending as well.”
Another area of satisfaction for The Societies was the increasing number of overseas visitors, particularly from Europe, who attended this year. “We had very strong turnouts from countries such as Malta, Cyprus and Norway this time around,” says Phil, “and there were delegates at the show from every country in Europe, while we even had one photographer who had come all the way from Japan to be with us! The Convention has become a truly international affair, and it’s good to see this interest in professional photography spreading beyond the traditional regions of America and Australia.”
The level of interest in the Convention from around the world was evident in the number of accolades that went to overseas photographers on the Awards Night. Overall Photographer of the Year was Scottish-born, Dubai-based Ian Hardie, while the runner-up in this category, Viktorija Vaisvilaite from Lithuania, also scooped an incredible six further awards. Throughout the categories there was success for photographers such as Christopher Azzopardi from Malta and Vagelis Giotopoulos from Greece, while British photographers such as Stuart Bebb, Pete Bristo, Lindsay Dobson and Paul Bucknall were likewise amongst the prizes on a night where the standard of photography was outstandingly high.
There was also an emotional moment when hugely popular photographer Keith Thompson from Studio Rouge was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Societies and, for once, he was lost for words when called to the stage to accept the honour. “When they were building up to this award I just kept thinking to myself ‘I wonder who this is?’” Keith says. “Then I became aware it was me they were talking about and that so many of my family and closest friends had known about this for ages and had managed to keep everything a secret. I’m just amazed and honoured by the whole thing.”
Following a highly successful six years at the Novotel in Hammersmith, the Society Convention is moving next year to the much larger Hilton Metropole in nearby Edgware Road, with the show scheduled to be held from Tuesday 8th January to Monday 14th January 2013.
“We’ve had some great times at the Novotel,” says Phil Jones, “but the new venue will give us the chance to expand still further, while the layout will allow our trade exhibition to be less congested and there will be more chance for delegates to book rooms where the Convention is actually being held. The hotel is also closer to London while still being outside the congestion zone and there are lots more locations, such as Little Venice, on the doorstep that will be ideal for outside shoots.
“We’re well advanced with our planning for 2013 and we’re already getting excited about the potential of the new location as we look ahead.”
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2014 Societies Convention and Trade Show at The Hilton London Metropole Hotel ...
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Photo Quote: If a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it's as though I've neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up. - Richard Avedon