I've just gotten back from my favorite photo event of the year, the PDN PhotoPlus Expo in New York at the Javits Center. The place was packed with hundreds of vendors, and I got to see many new products that will be terrific for holiday gift giving, some of which I will write about today -- but first let me tell you about the pictures you see accompanying this article.
This year, one of the best things about the Expo was that there were many interesting photo opportunities available for attendees. One usually goes to these events to see products or attend seminars rather than to take photos. In other years, attendees were permitted to take photos of the few professional models hired for camera, lighting and software demonstrations, but it was often difficult to get within shooting distance. This year, there were many more models doing quite different, interesting things in many locations scattered throughout the Expo, giving everyone with a camera many more chances to grab some good shots.
As you can see from the photos accompanying this article, I took advantage of those opportunities and had a lot of fun catching shots I liked. The first I took was of a model in a flaming red dress with matching shoes and lipstick, who was posing playfully for the crowds with a sassy new matching red Nikon 1 camera, part of a gigantic promotion for this new cross-over camera. A bit later at another kiosk, three beautiful young women were doing fast-paced, Bollywood-style Indian dancing. To capture a sense of the movement, as they swirled their gossamer scarves, I focused on one model and blurred the action by using a slow shutter speed. Further on, I came upon a fur-coated model whose still-image photos were being wirelessly transmitted to a TV screen above her head during a live demonstration. I wanted to get both the model and her screen image in the same picture, so I moved to one side and shot through the crowd to capture the picture you see.
Later, I caught sight of a beautiful face through an opening in a cluster of people at a booth on the far side of the room. A young woman in black was sitting, waiting to model for a lighting demonstration, but she was off duty and not posing. I waited for several minutes before I could catch the expression you see. After that, I came on a group of break dancers who were tearing up the place! They were really going at it! I had fun taking several photos, but when I caught the young man you see in my photo twisting himself into a pretzel, I thought the dance form should be renamed to break-neck dancing!
The most unusual shot I've included is probably the one of the Japanese Minime figures, stuffed toys that feature 3-D photos pasted onto molded faces, from which the nose visibly protrudes. The vendor was selling not the dolls but the photo machines and stock to make these toys. The literature promotes using your own photo or that of your pet, and suggests giving these toys as wedding, birthday, holiday gifts, etc. What caught my eye, however, was that all these toys featured the very sad looking baby faces you see, so I'm not sure how well this concept will sell. You can find out more at www.minimeusa.com.
There were other holiday gifts, however, that seemed to be of great interest to the shoppers there. An unusual gift for the holidays for your favorite photographer might be a LensSkin for his/her long telephoto lenses. These are jazzy wraps that stick to your lenses and dress them in zebra strips, leopard prints or some such. They do not inhibit the use of the lens, and then can be removed or changed easily leaving no residue. You can see a selection of prints and find out where to purchase them at www.LensSkins.Com .
For those family or friends who long to be their own "actor, stuntman, videographer, director, editor, producer and creative agency," here's the perfect gift! Please go to www.delkin.com to see the waterproof 3oz. action cameras and "Fat Gecko" mounts that allow a creative person to mount a video camera almost anywhere, including on bikes, skateboards, helmets, surfboards -- you name it, and then record everything that they do. The "Fat Gecko" name alone should be enough to get you to check out this website!
Along the same lines, targeted at adventurous photographers but with practical applications for many photographers, is a line of goods from AquaTech -- "Photography Equipment for Extreme Conditions" -- including sport shields, soft covers for various photographic accessories, sensory gloves that give superior grip but allow the thumb and index finger to be exposed for camera manipulation, and sound blimps that reduce camera noise by 97% for those times when the sound of the DSLR would be an impossible intrusion. Check them out at www.AquaTech.net.
For the photographer who wants to have a web presence but can't afford web design, www.500px.com allows folks to create their own portfolio website for only $50 a year. The company advertises that no technical skills are required to build your site, that you can be up and running in minutes, that you will have unlimited uploads, and I was told that a lot of folks are getting "discovered" by posting their portfolios on this site. The designs I saw look attractive -- this is an opportunity that could be just the right thing to encourage young or emerging photographers to get their work on-line, and this would make a super gift for anybody who has been longing for a website.
In the next column, I'll have more ideas for holiday shopping for your favorite photographer!
Lee Paine of Riverside is a professional freelance writer and photographer. She teaches, lectures and judges in the photographic field. You can visit her website at www.leepainefinephotography.com.