News that The Photography Show (aka The Photography & Video Show) is moving from its long-time home at Birmingham NEC to London’s ExCel exhibition centre next year has been met with a mixed reaction, and I’m guessing that where you sit on the enthusiasm scale depends largely on where you live. 

I think it’s a smart move, and I’ll explain why. Firstly, I’m going to put my cards on the table and admit that although TPS has its detractors, I’m not one of them. It is one of my highlights of the photography calendar and believe it makes an enormous contribution to the health and wellbeing of the UK photography industry by bringing the creative community and the trade together.

Yes, buying cameras, lenses and other gear, is part of the show’s draw but it’s also about the friends and acquaintances that you bump into in the aisles, and the new connections and future friends that you make. It brings the community together. 

TPS may be run by a rival publisher to AP but credit where it’s due. The organisers have done a fantastic job over the last few years in transforming it from the very male-centric, hardware-focused show targeted at professionals that was Focus on Imaging into a vibrant and diverse consumer event that’s as much about inspiration as selling hardware.

They have attracted a younger and more diverse crowd and significantly more women, which can only be a good thing. This year there seemed to be a lot of people who were attending for the first time, which is great.  

But the data doesn’t lie, and the one demographic that has stubbornly refused to engage with the show in any significant numbers are those living in London and the south-east.

You can argue that Birmingham is just a short train ride away but the fact remains that for many Londoners the map of Britain extends only to the borders of the M25, beyond which is just a blank space and the words “Here be dragons.” Yes it’s ridiculous, but we are where we are.  

Canon's 8K 3D 360 VR concept camera, shown at TPS March 2024
Canon’s 8K 3D 360 VR concept camera, shown at TPS March 2024. Photo JW/AP

In order for a show like TPS to survive and thrive they need to attract new blood.

London is the engine of the creative industry in the UK, and arguably the world. Among the 8 million people who live in the capital are thousands of photographers, filmmakers, production houses, art directors, designers, students, social media influencers and many others with a direct or indirect interest in the photography industry. They are, on average, younger, more affluent, more diverse and more international than the rest of the UK. (These are indisputable statistical facts).  

If this demographic mountain won’t come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain. Though admittedly, there aren’t many mountains in Docklands.  

The good news for those battling dragons in the frozen north (note, for the purposes of this discussion anything north of London is ‘north’) is that TPS will return to the NEC in 2026 and will alternate with London thereafter.  

We have already had an 18-month gap since the last TPS in 2022, after switching from September back to March, and I don’t recall many people getting hot under the collar about that. Indeed this year’s show was packed like it hasn’t been since before covid, so it seems that perhaps absence really does make the heart grow fonder after all.  

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