The new year means one thing for me and that it’s convention time! I’ve been attending and speaking at The Societies Photographic convention here in London for a number of years now but I always manage to learn something new.
This year I was hosting three Masterclasses and was also drafted in to share my baby photography expertise in a panel discussion with the wonderful Sandy Puc.

There’s three things I always look forward to at each convention :
Finding new and interesting products in the trade show.
Attending and teaching Masterclasses.
Meeting up and making friends with others photographers.

Actually it’s the last on my list which is really my highlight. Over the years I’ve made some great friends in the industry and sometimes the best lessons are taught in the lobby bar.
It’s amazing how egos and bravado are soon washed away after a shady or two.
I do actually really like doing the talks, this year after our panel discussion on baby photography I started with a social media talk on the Friday.
I’ve created a blog post Social Media Tools for Photographers which lists some of the tools I discussed in the class.
On Saturday afternoon I had a brand new talk for me titled Marketing Campaigns For Photographers. These were based on a blog series I wrote for Current Photographer a couple of years ago and it was nice to revisit and refresh them.
I have begun publishing some of the revised articles here on the London Pro Retouch blog which you can follow by signing up to our mailing list or just following the link Marketing Campaigns for Photographers.
My final masterclass on Sunday was titled “Let me show you some cool stuff”. The idea was to put together a talk which had a little bit of everything in. I’ve been working in the photography industry for nearly 15 years so I think it’s fair to say I’ve picked up an idea or two here and there. During the Masterclass I shared plenty of links to photography equipment suppliers, software and training resources. A full list of those can be found at Let Me Show you some cool stuff.

Business School 

On Wednesday morning, after a quick newborn session in the studio I made my way up the Northern line from South Wimbledon to Edgware Road.
Sadly I missed the morning business school talks but from what I heard Catherine Connor, Brett Florens, Andy and Laura gave the attendees lots of food for thought.
I arrived just in time for Kevin Mullins and Adam Edwards Zenfolio talk. Kevin was in high spirits due to finally successfully achieving his Associateship with his documentary wedding photography panel.
Adam shared some excellent tips on site construction, layout, design and SEO whilst Kevin discussed the importance of beating your own drum on social media.
After a rather delightful tuna sandwich lunch Donal Doherty took the stage for a fantastic talk on marketing. Been sure to keep an eye on for future training. Donal is one of the great givers in the industry and its easy to understand why his clients love him.
The theme of online marketing and SEO continued with Alan Hutchison and that’s sadly when I had to depart for the day… the lobby bar.


Having received a call Wednesday morning for a bump session “as soon as possible” which I promptly booked for first thing the next day my Thursday was once again to start in the studio.
After the session I did a quick edit with one of the pictures which made a good bit of extra content for my Let Me Show You Some Cool Stuff Masterclass.
I arrived carrying bundles of Cherubs Baby photography branded studio samples for Sandy Puc’s Panel discussion which I had been recruited to join.
After lunch I headed to David Wall‘s masterclass on creative visualisation Where amongst other things he was brave enough to try and explain what Photoshop’s “Blend If” actually does.
The baby photography panel discussion was an enjoyable afternoon with a good variety of photographers. On the panel hosted by Sandy Puc was myself, Lori Nordstrom, Kels Noades, Nicola Denny Hutchinson and Christina Lauder. Christiana the day before had just been awarded a Fellowship for her baby and child portraiture so it great to have her on the panel along with a very experienced group.
After the class myself and Kels were asked to appear on Sandy Puc’s live broadcast Training website which I must admit we were a little bit excited about.
On Thursday evening was the welcome party which was a great chance to catch up with old friends and to make a few new ones too.
On Friday morning I attended an excellent masterclass with Adam Duckworth on making money from Media with an emphasis on specialist magazines. I always try and see at least one speaker who is discussing something I have no real experience of or is far removed from my specialisation. As an editorial photographer with a great wealth of experience Adam certainly ticks those boxes.
I also sat in on one of Xander Casey‘s classes on off camera flash and shooting with speedlights. He described everything from what sort of equipment he uses to examples of lighting types. He had live single light demos showing Butterfly, Broad, Short, Rembrandt and Loop lighting.
Just before lunch was our appearance on SPTV which hopefully you can still view here. The discussion was about our different baby photography programs. I have been a Cherubs partner for the past few years so I was able to bring with me some of the specially branded products we have had made for us from the likes of Graphi Studio, One Vision and PhotoValue.
Whilst I am always interested in how different photographers shoot I am also just as interested in how they edit.
The next class I attended was Jane Connor Ziser who has a vast amount of experience editing for competitions. Along with showing off some of her editing techniques she discussed the 12 elements that are important for competition prints;
Technical excellence
Lighting – enhance and complement
Presentation – enhance and support
Colour balance – warm – cool etc
Centre of interest – where are you looking?
Subject matter – editing needs to be appropriate

Another inspirational editor I saw was Ramon Sammut. His class was aimed at the slightly more advanced as I think he lost a few people when discussing channels and calculations! It was a thoroughly interesting talk and there was certainly a few ideas that he showed which I’ll give a go.
My real favourite of all talks was Kevin Wilson’s Masterclass on environmental portraiture.
Kevin went through his process of photography which mostly consists of a single light source and skilful use of reflectors.
When it comes it getting it right in camera there’s few better than Kevin Wilson and he has the Fellowships to prove it.
One speaker I didn’t have a chance to see was the wonderful Michelle Whitmore who, during the convention was awarded another Associateship! Her unique submission which blends macro photography and fashion portraiture in a Victorian inspired project The Curiosity of Entomorphosis is certainly worth a closer look.
On Saturday night we slipped on our suits and headed deep underground to the Hilton Metropole’s ball room for the Societies awards dinner.
The standard was certainly high this year and it was great to see such a variety of skill both photographically and from a editing perspective.
This year 4 Fellowships were awarded to . Each gave a speech on the night but the best was reserved for last with James Musslewhite reducing at least two of my table to tears.

The Societies’ Photographer of the Year 2014

You can view all the winners at The Societies’ Photographer of the Year 2014
Each of the categories from our Monthly Image Competition has nominees which have been chosen from the Gold Award winning images from 2014.
Throughout the year the Societies use a group of 35 Judges to do Qualifications, Monthly Image Competition judging, End of Year judging and judging at The Convention.
The judges are Steve Allen, Sue Altenburg, Stuart Bebb, Paul Callaghan, Alan Carville, Kevin Casha, George Dawber, Bev Downie, Barrie Downie, Marko Dutka, Peter Ellis, George Fairbairn, Desi Fontaine, Adrian Henson, Simon John, Christina Lauder, Tom Lee, Eileen Mason, Gordon McGowan, Mike McNamee, Sergio Muscat, Aled Oldfield, Dennis Orchard, Llewellyn Robins, Ramon Sammut, Lenny Smith, Jamie Thompson, Keith Thompson, Lynsey Viney, Richard P Walton, Kevin Wilson, Stuart Wood, Faye Yerbury, Trevor Yerbury, Darrin Zammit-Lupi and finally Terrie Jones who coordinates the competition and judges throughout the year.
Kevin Murphy @kevoto
The Judges commented an excellent concept, which has been superbly executed, great control of all the elements with the image paying homage to Salvador Dali.
Judges’ comments on this image it has a strong narrative with excellent composition – the emotive words along with the action of the subject tell a powerful story.
Trevor Wilson LSWPP @TrevWilsonPhoto
The Judges felt that this was an incredibly difficult image to capture of a Kingfisher in its natural habitat, this is an image that every wildlife photographer aspires to capture.

George Fairbairn FSWPP @georgefairbairn
Kristida Stalionyte @KristidaPhotogr
Martin Leckie LSWPP @MartinLeckie
Dale Alexis Goldstone @DaleAlexisArt
Dave Richardson @bigphatphotos
Kutub Uddin
Roger Evans
Christopher Algar
Dale Alexis Goldstone @DaleAlexisArt
Kevin Murphy @kevoto
Phil Armstrong
Trevor Wilson LSWPP @TrevWilsonPhoto

Special Awards

Stuart Bebb @StuartBebb and Richard P Walton @richardpwalton

20×16″ Competition Results

The 20×16″ Print Competition was judged live at The Societies’ 2014 Convention.
Terry Donnelly @terrydonnelly01
Alastair Campbell
Adrian Henson @theadrianhenson
Terry Donnelly @terrydonnelly01
Richard P Walton @richardpwalton

Forum Competitions

George Plisitis @GeorgePlisitis

On Sunday I woke early for breakfast despite only having three hours sleep. The plan was to get to the trade show whilst everyone else was sleeping off the last night’s antics. Thankfully it was much quieter than Saturday so I was actually able to properly speak to some of the suppliers.
I’ve been to my fair share to trade shows over the years and in that time I’ve learnt that it good to have a plan.

The Trade Show Plan

1. If you intend to spend money then make a list of what you actually NEED.
2. Speak to your current suppliers. Building relationships is important to your business.
3. Look for companies that you might not thought have using in your current business. 9 months done the line you might need them.
4. Take plenty of business cards.
5. Collect everyone’s current brochures and throw out their old ones.
6. Look for current trends. Some companies do very similar things but much better than their competition.
7. Know what your markup is. If a product is too expensive to make the right profit then move on. Too many photographers are selling products at look amazing but they aren’t making money from them.
8. Follow companies you like the look of on Twitter before the trade show. Companies are often tweeting out deals and discounts to get your attention.
9. Follow show related hashtags, for example #socities2015. It’s another great way to keep updated with events and special deals happening during the show.
10. Socialise. If your favourite supplier invites you for a drink later in the bar then join them!


My trade show highlights

The one trend I noticed this year was prints in boxes. Both OneVision and Graphi Studio offered some very nice options for this.
It seemed that everyone was offering custom USBs in boxes, in cases, with customs designs etc. One company that really caught my eye was PhotoFlashDrive. They do offer some fun novelty USBs but they also make some rather nice wooden products that can be used for boxing prints or small albums.
The baby photography business must be booming as there were a few baby prop stands. The Prop Box had a lovely selection of props whereas The Baby Prop Shop offered a lovely selection background and beanbag materials.
There were of course plenty of album suppliers but Album Epoca still remains our favourite. Graphi Studio’s new smaller (and cheaper) version of the popular Young Book quietly impressed from its little corner of their display.
 Looking back this has to have been one of my favourite conventions and I’m already looking forward to next year!