No gear, yet Photokina

2012, Photography


I mentioned previously that I would be going to Photokina in Cologne. Not too long I ago they asked me, and some other photographers, to participate on a project for the Pentax Ricoh booth at the fair. They wanted to create large photobooks and arrange an exhibition.

On September 18 they invited us to come to Cologne and see the exhibition and photobooks for ourselves. On the booth they had a very large photobook with, I presume, A2 prints inside. Additionally they made A3 sized photobooks that focused on several of the cameras in the product line of Pentax Ricoh. My photographs where printed in a book where the participating photographers used the Ricoh GRD, GXR and the Pentax Q.

What I liked best was meeting the other photographers and the organizers from Pentax Ricoh and the design agency.

And what about the rest of Photokina? Of course a lot of cameras, but I couldn’t care less about that. It is very crowded and you see people trying cameras, basically pressing some buttons and checking the menus. Asking questions is even funnier, because there is always some young girl or boy friendly smiling you and just rambling some feature set.  It was a place I felt quite alienated and I was glad that at several places there was some good photographs at display. In particular the Leica gallery with the work of Elliott Erwitt, Jacob Aue Sobol, Danny Wilcox Frazier, Steve McCurry, and Nick Ut (the Napalm Girl photograph) was special.

At the fair I had a chance to meet up with Sean Reid from Reid Reviews. And best was talking with Fabian Kruse at a café near the Cologne Central Station briefly before going home again.

Photograph by Wouter Brandsma

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15 thoughts on “No gear, yet Photokina

  1. Wouter, the two photographs of the solitary figures are beautiful. Thanks for posting them. And your response to the gear-heavy Photokina environment sounds perfectly sane. Hope you make it out of there with all your good sense still in tact. 🙂

  2. Mooie titel en platen Wouter! De essentie van de fotografie lijkt wel helemaal onder gesneeuwd te worden door het geweld van de releases van nieuwe gear. Het is mooi dat een merk als Ricoh hierin zijn eigen (marketing) strategie heeft. Het is apart als mensen op bv het Ricoh forum van Dpreview teleurgesteld zijn in het laatst genoemde merk dat er geen nieuws onder de zon is. Maar is het een verplichting om op zo’n gelegenheid met nieuwe releases te komen? Mensen verdiepen zich dan niet echt in de filosofie van een bedrijf. Ik vind het juist van respect getuigen dat fotografen zoals jij in staat worden gesteld om werk te tonen. Uiteindelijk draait het toch om de platen.

    1. Met Sean Reid had ik het hierover. Ergens moet je gewoon accepteren dat er mensen zijn, veel mensen, die zich liever met techniek en camera’s bezig houden dan met fotografie. Het is dan ook veel eenvoudiger te begrijpen. Hun partners zullen er echter later niets meer van snappen. Ze hebben veel geld, moeite en energie gestoken in hun camera’s en ze zaten veel op fotografieforums. De partners dachten echter dat ze ook mooie foto’s zouden maken, maar daar zal later blijken niets van terecht gekomen te zijn. Op zijn minst vormde ze geen gevaar op straat, dat dan weer wel.

  3. Wouter, super photographs and congratulations on getting Ricoh’s recognition for your photos. The book looks interesting. I wonder if we will be able to see it somewhere else later…

  4. Nice. They like your stuff. And it’s a great way to give back by displaying your photos publicly at such important event. I actually would like to have a copy of that pentax/ricoh book you mentioned.

    1. Thank you Alan. It was certainly interesting and I see more and more manufacturers collaborating with photographers to arrange exhibitions on fairs like these. Getting a copy of this particular book will probably be very difficult, but I hope to finish my own book this year.

  5. Two comments:

    First, let me say I think the first image featuring the Leica dot and the dapper gentleman in the chair is, perhaps, one of the most extraordinary images you’ve made in some time, I could go through the dozen things I like about it, but I’d sound too pedantic (even for me), so a couple only: the crowds before the X in the background and how his dress and placement emphasize his aloofness from the chaos around him. Just superb.

    Second, like the others, I too would love to see the actual printed book. It’s one thing to see images on a monitor and quite another to hold a physical print (or book of them) in your hands.

    1. Photographically speaking it was the only worth while moment I saw at Photokina, but also one of the first moments in a long time a brief moment resembled my feelings at that moment.

  6. Wouter, we are looking to your last photographs in Austria. They are very beautiful and we are very proud of you! We are glad you got the inspiration again!

    Mom and dad

  7. Finally a fresh and interesting look at photokina. After all the boring and never ending gear talk, something meaningful…these pictures are magnificent. I am looking forward to your book. It would be wonderful to see it in print, and i would love to order it as soon as it is available. All the best

    1. I spoke with Sean Reid about the emphasize on gear since it seems that most do understand that. They are not really interested in meaningful photographs, so everyone has it’s place. I, and hopefully others like you too, prefer images instead. I felt really alienated and was disturbed by all the people drooling around the booths. The best part was the Leica gallery, but most didn’t get that far.

      And now I really need to rush with my photobook Roni. Thank you for the reminder. Lots to do.

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