A First-Timer's Visit to PhotoPlus Expo 2015 October 28 2015, 1 Comment

What I Saw At North America's Largest Photography Show

This Guest Post was written by divzi media on assignment for Bokeh Fire at PhotoPlus Expo 2015.

Last week, I attended the massive PhotoPlus Expo and Conference in New York City for 3 days with a VIP Pass provided by the folks over at Bokeh Fire.  It was three days of adrenaline and caffeine, and I’m experiencing a knowledge hangover while I process everything I saw during 72 hours at the Javits Convention Center.

Photo by divzi media.  Shot with the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

This was my first year attending PhotoPlus Expo, the largest photography conference in North America, with 22,000 photographers visiting 240+ booths in a massive hall at the Javits Center in Manhattan.  The show combines a mixture of smaller classes from industry leaders, techniques and tips from other photographers on the Canon and Nikon stages and a display of some of the newest technologies available in the field. New cameras, accessories and, most importantly, lenses can be demoed before they’re made available to the public later this year.

Before I dive in too deep, I have to note that the Javits Center is one the most beautiful (yes, I’m talking about a convention center) buildings I have ever visited.


Photo by divzi media.  Shot with the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

Encased in glass, this light, airy space transports you to the future, a perfect setting to showcase the future of a creative field like photography. And, like a new smartphone release, hundreds were lined up to storm the gates right at 10am when the ropes cordoning off the secret displays of technology were dropped to admit the curious masses.


Photo by divzi media.  Shot with the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

The conference was split into two components: the Expo and the Full-Conference. Expo access allows entry into the technology on display while the Full-Conference gives you access to both the technology display and photography classes taught by other professionals.  I was lucky enough to have Full-Conference access.

The entire experience was overwhelming (in the most positive sense of the word), and, when I do it again, I’ll be sure to spend a few hours more extensively researching and developing an intentional plan of attack for visiting the Expo. As you graze from booth to booth, previewing the new equipment offerings from Canon and Nikon (two giant, opposing stages each seducing prospective buyers with copies of their $10,000+ lenses to try in action) you can’t help but feel a sense of awe.

Photo by divzi media.  Shot with the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

It’s everywhere. Around every corner is another DSLR or lens brand like Leica, Sony, Samsung and Sigma.  Accessory brands like Manfrotto, ThinkTank, Lowepro and Westcott touted their latest offerings and New York superstores B&H and Adorama were on site with an abundance of staff to answer any related question you might have.

Along with all of these internationally known brands, BokehFire also had the opportunity to present their booth to the public with their first ever showing at PhotoPlus. With a free t-shirt giveaway for all new members and a huge poster of their Lens Recommender 3000 to help you pick your lens, they saw a huge response from attendees and are excited to serve an ever expanding Member base.


Photo by divzi media.  Shot with the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

With Bokeh Fire’s continuing expansion, they’re working to expand lens rental options to provide our customers with even more lens choices. Be on the lookout for more lenses being added to the portfolio soon! But back to the Expo…

As I made figure eights around the Expo, I was filled to the mental brim with photographic ideas. The Expo, like any good piece of art, speaks to you regardless of where you are in your personal journey.

And, just as no two photographers are identical, the Expo allows photographers to solve whatever gear-related challenges they are experiencing at the moment. Struggling with storage of your images? There are multiple solutions available at the Expo to address that challenge. Wanting to complement your DSLR options with more compact options? Mirorrless systems that fit in the palm of your hand or attach to your smartphone are available for testing.


Photo by divzi media.  Shot with the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

Unsatisfied with your current lighting? Modifiers and lighting solutions are available for display along with real-time demonstrations with live-models available for you to photograph.


Photo by divzi media.  Shot with the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

The name of the game at the Expo is interaction, as this was not a passive event and required you to interact with booths, brands, and of course fellow photographers in order to get the most out of your experience.

(On a completely unrelated note, two trends that seem no sign of slowing down are mirrorless camera offerings and drones. I was surprised by how many companies are offering them and hope that pricing soon begins to reflect the options available in the marketplace.  But back to the Expo…)


Photo by divzi media.  Shot with the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

The best part of the Expo is that tickets are free ahead of time on the event website (the Full-Conference pass costs extra). But just because you didn’t register for the full conference doesn’t mean you didn’t learn a lot. While the demonstrations at each booth are certainly intricately weaved into sales pitches, brands did a great job of hiring well known professionals like Lindsay Adler, Joel Grimes and others to teach attendees new photography tips and techniques.


Photo by divzi media.  Shot with the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

I also received a free invitation via my Canon Professional Services (CPS) membership, who had their own lounge for members with refreshments, access to a more private gear showcase and the opportunity for a free camera check and clean – which of course I took advantage of!

Talking about the gear at the Expo gets me excited, but it’s not all that matters, and PhotoPlus did a great job of walking the thin line that is photography – both art and science. The science is intriguing (especially given our never-ending lust for new technology and lenses), but there is no outlet for this technology without the art side of photography. Event organizers did a great job of allowing photographers attending the Conference a multitude of choices based on where they are in their photographic journey.

Photo by divzi media.  Shot with the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

Professionals are available for portfolio review, photography giants like Sue Bryce offered classes on lighting and posing. Even editorial legends like Gregory Heisler (whose talk Jay Meisel also happened to attend) taught classes as he challenged others to think about the importance of vision in photography.

PhotoPlus was just the pep rally I needed. I whole-heartedly recommend you attend this event next year. It was definitely worth it and I’m already excited about next year. My visit makes me want to become a better photographer. This requires knowledge and practice and the education component of PhotoPlus was essential in that journey.

It also makes me want new gear. These are the tools I saw at the Expo that let us accomplish the creative act.  Lens choice matters and I love that Bokeh Fire continues to work to provide photographers the opportunities to use lenses they may not be able to access otherwise.  PhotoPlus served as a great template for how Bokeh Fire works with Members: equal parts education and gear.  I’m looking forward to following how they continue that work over the coming months as I get ready for PhotoPlus 2016.


divzi media is a Philadelphia-based wedding, event and commercial photography provider offering a wide variety of high-quality professional photography services locally and nationally.  Bokeh Fire invited them to attend PhotoPlus and record their experiences to share with photographers who were not able to attend this year.


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