The Trade Show


This is a show where the exhibitors and visitors trade things back and forth; questions, quips, threats, business cards, selfies, dick pics, ransom notes, billets-doux, and viruses.

If you are lucky the viruses are air-borne. If you are unlucky they are on USB thumb drives. Whichever, either you or your computer are going to sneeze, swell up, and drip. Good luck getting rid of it.

The BIG TRADE SHOW is one thing. You can decide for yourself which one of the photographic circuses qualifies for this title, and follow the developments accordingly. The ones that interest me most are the little ones – the unconsidered ones – the trade shows that try to survive on crepe paper decorations and oddball products. Because these are the ones that will provide most of the good ideas for the future.

I’ve written before about the one-man-band exhibitor who arrives with his entire stock in two suitcases and tries to engage the world with a new idea. Frequently he fails, and is lucky to make it back to his own home town after the show is finished. Many of them are never heard of again. Whoever gets the Gestetnered advertising pamphlet that he is handing out has all that will ever be remembered…but sometimes it contains real genius. Those of us who read every line of the brochure may very well get an idea that we turn into money.

Of course it can be a very hard process – extracting good commercial sense out of Japlish, Chinglish, Deutschelish, or other strange communications can strain the most imaginative minds. The number of times I have asked for a camera advertisement to be passed through an Enigma machine…only to find out that it is code for attacking convoys in the Atlantic…

But every printed pamphlet is a resource. Unlike the ephemerae of the internet, the glossy A5 will stay around long after the promoter has decamped. And it cannot be gainsaid, even if the idea was bad to start with. If you have hard copy evidence, you may not be able to compel them to make good with their promises, but you can laugh at them and then defend it in court.

Wanna buy a Gold Brick-O-Flex?



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