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Posted on 19th November, 2011

Canon Pro Solutions day 2011:

proof that the times they are a changing.


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I'm not a pro, and I don't want to be. No, I'm more than happy as an amateur, taking the pics I want to take, and not having to make a living from them. And although I wouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, if I managed to create a famous pic, I'd be more than happy with just the kudos it brings. It's a bit more than 'if I managed' though, as it's what I want. In fact, it's the only photography-related wish I have before I depart this life: I want one of my pics to bring me my 15 minutes of fame.


So, taking Andy Warhol to heart, I risk upsetting pro's every time I go out piccy-hunting. Not that I think my pics are better than theirs I must add, and not that I have the 'keep-shooting' ability that pro's are blessed with: in fact, I'm confident that they'd beat me hands-down in both departments. But, it just might be, that one day it's me who's in the right place at the right time, rather than Mr Getty, or Mr AP etc. Not that pro's will see it like that I suspect, as they'll probably say that it's at the expense of an image they could have made money from.


I wonder what approach Canon takes on this pro-am issue? I ask this because their recent 2-day Pro Solutions 2011 event, at the Business Design Centre, Islington, was superficially aimed at the pro corner. 'Superficially', because Canon didn't make too much effort to enforce that requirement I'm pleased to say, and I was one of the many pretenders there on the first day, Tuesday 25th October. A productive and interesting day it was too in my opinion, as I was able to evaluate several brands of heavy-duty backpacks, watch informative lighting demos, and attend five mostly-entertaining presentations.


Although I didn't buy on the day, exhibitor Calumet were the winners in the backpack head-to-head, as I've now ordered a BP1500. Based on it's limited availability, this model is obsolete I think, but that doesn't detract from it's value to me. It's the right size and shape, has re-inforced shoulder straps, and the competitive price also helped of course.


The lighting demos followed a typical pattern, with a tethered setup shooting a nice young thing. Something new to me though, was a lighting 'shoot-out', between Andy Kruczek using studio lights, David Newton with Speedlites, and Jeff Ascough with simulated daylight (it was too dark for 'real' daylight). Very interesting, and very thought-provoking, although the fact that Jeff Ascough had to work with simulated daylight undermined his case just a teeny-bit I'd say.


The five presentations I saw were by Martin Parr, Lara Jade, Liz Hingley, Peter Dench, and Dan Chung. I was especially pleased to hear Martin Parr I must say, as I've felt for a while that my opinion of him was based on his gaudy 1986 New Brighton work, and needed updating. Well it's definitely true that he's moved on, and he even showed a few really decent candid portraits. But, even though I now appreciate him much more as an individual, his photographic tastes still don't match too well with mine I'm afraid.


Lara Jade is a little frightening. Not physically, as she's a sight for sore eyes, but in terms of what she's achieved so far in her very short life. She's an inspirational girl who can't be more than 23 years old, but she's already hit the big, big time with a vengeance. Just how far can she go I wonder, before she burns out?


Liz Hingley was of special personal interest, as she's from my birthplace of Birmingham, and presented the work she'd carried out in the Handsworth district of the city called "Under Gods' Stories From Soho Road". I was impressed and fascinated by the pics themselves, but also by the great co-operation and access she achieved. It made my own summer 2011 attempt at people pics in Soho Road a miserable failure by comparison, with fewer than 1 in 4 people giving me the nod. I therefore wished I could have buttonholed Liz, and found out more of her secrets.


It was good to put a face to the name of Peter Dench, as I'd been a follower of his diaries in Professional Photographer magazine for a while. But what I liked most about Peter was not so much his photography, but, his 'wicked' and humorous nature, and, his fondness for real ale. Yes, his photography seems to be influenced a little too much by the aforementioned Martin Parr for my taste, so I'll make sure it's the barley, hops, yeast, sugar and water we slur our words over in the very unlikely event that we meet at the Great British Beer Festival.


I was under the mistaken impression that Dan Chung was a stills photographer, so I was unpleasantly surprised to find out at the talk itself that his thing is now video. Using mainly Canon DSLR's mind you, but still video. As such, although the presentation was very eye-opening, it didn't excite me unfortunately, and I ended up wishing I'd found out in time to choose an alternative. Still, there's no harm in seeing where things are going, and Dan Chung will stay with the leaders without doubt. But will I still be on this planet when video kills the stills star? I don't know, and, as long as I've had my 15 minutes of fame by then, I don't care.


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