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PhotoPlus Expo Re-Cap: Inspiration, Networking and Building Relationships

Robert Nowell, Professional photographer, photography professor and VP at Sprout Studio About Robert

I love my window seat when I fly. It makes me get philosophical on life and business.  Looking down on the tiny clouds below as we return to Buffalo airport from our Chicago stopover I can’t help but marvel at how my time at the PhotoPlus Expo in New York City this weekend has affected me.
It may sound overly dramatic to some but, just three days of meet ups, sharing meals, and time spent at the trade show have left me feeling incredibly optimistic about the future of professional photography.

Bryan and I were fortunate enough to spend the majority of our time with Skip Cohen of Skip Cohen University and were introduced to some absolutely fantastic people from the industry. Walking the trade show floor with Skip was like walking around with the mayor (as has been described to us from so many who know him) Skip knows practically everyone in the business and he has an uncanny talent for remembering names.

I’ll expand more about Skip in another article but for now suffice to say that I’m honoured to be able to call him my friend.

DSCF9396Back to the trade show, which is a cross between a shopping centre for photographers coupled with a great variety of respected shooters from across the country giving mini presentations at various booths. On entering the space my eye was immediately drawn to the impressive galleries presented by the likes of Nikon, Epson, and Canon to name a few. I’m a print guy through and through and there’s nothing I love more than standing three feet away from a gorgeous print of a photo by Jay Meisel, Joe McNally, Greg Gorman or  Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

To me it’s how photography was meant to be enjoyed and I get so much from it. I have all my work done at a fantastic lab and yet coming away from this show I am inspired to get my own inkjet printer and start making my own prints of my own work. Just for the love of it!

I spent time at the majority of booths but one visit that stood out for me was chatting with Billy Luong (@FujiGuys) at the Fuji booth. Billy is actually a Fuji Canada rep but was in NYC to help out the US team. Billy is a wealth of technical information and although I don’t consider myself a “techie” I spent an enjoyable half an hour listening to him explain how and why Fuji designs and builds their lenses the way they do. I had borrowed a FujiX100s from Bryan to use on our trip and had already heard from a number of photographers using Fuji how incredible the lens quality is. Billy showed us how the Fuji zooms are built like a prime and how they manage to cut down stray light within the lens build. I don’t explain it well but Billy did a fantastic job. While I’m a longtime Canon shooter myself, I know I’ll be adding some mirrorless Fuji equipment to my arsenal very soon. Of course Sony and Panasonic also have excellent mirror less gear too but we all buy the tools we use for different reasons.

Another highlight of the conference weekend for me took place in a nice restaurant (Etcetera,Etcetera) away from the conference. There was a meet up of photobloggers and some other friends. It was pretty cool to have all at one table Renee Robyn, Seshu Badrinath from Tiffinbox, Mike Allebach, Christine Tremoulet, Gevon (Servo) Knox, Neil van Niekerk, Scott Wyden Kivowitz, Cheryl Machat Dorskind, Becker and a couple of others I didn’t get a chance to chat with.
It was an informal meet up that allowed for some great conversations, good food and drinks. Sprouting Photographer has been supported by many of these folks and it was great to meet in person for the first time to say thanks and catch up!


On day three I met and chatted with Jerry Uelsmann who’s work I have greatly admired since I got into photography close to forty years ago. That was a great thrill! I also saw and grabbed a shot of Jay Maisel while he signed prints. Jay is another photo icon that inspires many generations of photographers.

The grand finale of our trip was an amazing Japanese dinner at Izakaya Nomad Gastropub on West 26th Street. Bryan Skip and I were joined by Matthew Jordan Smith, Kayce Baker, Paul Fishkin from Manfrotto and Bob Rose from The Mac Group. I don’t think I have laughed so hard in years, the stories that were told were hilarious. Either that or I had too much sake.

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So what’s the point I’m making? Do you see the pattern here? Get inspired, meet, discuss, learn, take away, laugh, get acquainted and start new lifetime friendships.

I guess what I’m suggesting is that it’s a healthy idea to lift our heads up from our own everyday experience and look at what others are creating, to taste new flavours, experience things outside of the box we find ourselves in from routine.


Learn as much as you can about this great vocation we call professional photography. Learn from it’s history, maybe even meet some of the history makers. See where it’s going by looking into the future. Check out the unveiling of new technologies and equipment. Look change in the eye with a fearless attitude.

Many local photographers I’ve spoken to say they can’t afford to go away to such conventions. I say you can’t afford not to go.

Include convention trips in your overall budget, or label an envelope with the word “rejuvenate” and put 10% of every dollar you earn into it and at the end of each year you should have more than enough put away to get on a plane and be a part of something big.

Do it!

#Networking #Personal Growth #Workshop


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