Having been a photographer for as long as I can remember (ever since my father let me shoot a few frames of his prized Olympus OM-1 one summer when I was about 10), I’ve always been interested in any kind of photography event or conference.
Exhibitions I love, but sadly most of the conferences that exist in the UK are more of the trade show/expo variety, crammed full of big photography vendors selling their wares and demonstrating things, and while one can catch the occasional interesting talk, it all can be a bit soulless.
Luckily there seems to be a bit of a renaissance this year, with both local events (Photography Oxford Festival - a series of talks and exhibitions) and the launch of a photography conference in London - BirdieConf, aimed at sharing both knowledge and inspiration from Photographers in a wide variety of fields.
As this was a new conference, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but being a product of White October Events - (with whom I’ve attended 3 past database/web related events) I was pretty sure the standard was going to be high.
Held on the 17th of September 2014 in a nice venue in Shoreditch, the conference was a single track event (which I loved - less missing out on stuff). Such was the friendly intimate nature of things that on arrival I ended inadvertently chatting to most of the speakers over coffee which was really nice.
MC’d by the ever excellent Dan Rubin, the day ranged in topic widely, from breathtaking astrophotography by Conor MacNeill, rock n’roll antics of music photographer Katja Ogrin, atmospheric film stills on set from Agata A. Nitecka, Lomography/general editorial shooting from LomoKev, image copyright law from expert Naomi Korn, to the more ephemeral nature of photography, with some entertaining talks on the history of photography from Retronaut’s Chris Wild and QI’s Stevyn Coglan. There were also some very interesting on stage discussions on the future of photography with Dan Rubin and Tom Seymour from fltr.
The Impossible Project were on hand showing off a mobile-phone powered photo lab for printing onto polaroid film and the folk behind my favourite camera gadget, Triggertrap were also there demonstrating one of their recent fun projects - a shout-triggered photo studio.
In a nice touch Birdie ran a photo competition, with the finalists all being exhibited at the back of the venue, which were all excellent, and really well printed/displayed.
Just as good as the talks were the breaks - I made a point of chatting to a fair few attendees, and had some really interesting conversations about photography in general.
All in all it was a really worthwhile day, well curated and run, standing head and shoulders above the usual large expos. Every speaker was excellent (a rarity!), and I left as inspired and fired up about the craft of photography as I can remember being in the last few years.