After The Elephants Leave the Room


Presently, we are in the throes of Photokina 2016. We’ve see daily…nay, hourly…reports of new cameras and lenses and all the paid toadies and hack writers have gushed and oozed as hard as they could. I know, I am a paid hack-writing toady and I’ve had to take to sitting on a towel to absorb some of the writing…

The ones with a good track record have been given privileges and the ones without have lined up outside the velvet ropes/razor wire like the rest of Europe and stared in. It sounds awful, but really it is no hardship for the excluded – there’s sauerkraut and sausage enough out there to accommodate them and they can always slope off to München on the train and buy tickets for the beer tents. You can write a pretty good review of a new camera system from a beer tent with a roast chicken and a pretzel for encouragement. No-one is gonna read it anyway, so you might as well be comfortable.

This is the point where the wise geek writer sticks around – when the big circus band leaves the halls and the little stands come into their own. When you can cruise around and look at the weird shit that someone wants to sell – when you can give the little staffer manning the card table and plastic drinks cooler some recognition. You might score a scoop, or recruit a valuable industry contact, or discover a secret spy. You might get a free sample or at least one of the badly-worded sales pamphlets. At the very worst you might get a chair to sit down in.

Little bitty shitty stands are the best. Let’s face it, if someone has jetted cattle class from Hong Kong or bucketted over the Brenner Pass with a Trabi full of hand-made samples, they are keen to be there and they are dying to have someone take them seriously. If you can bear the sales hype you might find the next novelty for some niche market that makes a good little earner.

At the very least, even if you have to buy something instead of get it as a freebie, you may have something that no-one else in the camera club will ever get access to. Lots of start-up gear is like that; brilliant ideas that never succeed, but make great prizes.

Be kind. Play nice. Talk respectfully. Schmooze like a boss.


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