BitDepth 550 - November 14

The conflict between digital imaging and film was over at New York's PhotoPlus Expo in New York, but the new technology brought new challenges to working photographers...
Photography, betwixt and between

Top: Entrance to the New York PhotoPlus Expo, as photo enthusiasts stream onto the show floor.
Bottom: Seminal British photojournalist Harry Benson graciously nods toward the camera during a signing at the Epson booth. Photographs by Mark Lyndersay.

The New York PhotoPlus Expo, one of the signal events on the calendar of imagemakers in America was flying mixed flags as it opened this month.
The big players on the floor were the main rivals for the digital camera dollar, Nikon and Canon, occupying huge booths a stone's throw from each other right at the entrance to the expo.

No missiles were launched, but a blizzard of leaflets were volleyed at attendees as they stepped onto the floor, first from Canon, Fuji and Nikon then from the new big names in photography, Epson, Wacom and Adobe, whose booths were equally grand and featured cutting edge photographers in mini-lectures on their work, much of which involved the use of the equipment on show.

That startling contrast, old-school photography equipment suppliers jockeying for footing with companies traditionally associated with computers would be played out across the expo floor, which featured more than a hundred companies.
On the fringes, though, you could see a different kind of struggle, new companies trying to get the attention of professional users and old ones fighting to find relevance in a business environment which has changed so drastically over the last five years that several business booths seemed to be talking to themselves, their wares looking like antique curiosities after the gloss and sparkle of the big displays up front.

Astonishingly, one of those companies was Kodak, who unwisely broke up their presence at the show into three smaller booths, LexJet, the inkjet printer division and Lexar, the memory card brand. Under the familiar yellow banner photographers could find a small oasis of film, a tiny curiosity in a show dedicated to digits.
In some ways it was sad seeing once-mighty Kodak in this subordinate role that seemed to echo its faltering fortunes. Epson offered print signings with luminaries like Walter Iooss, Harry Benson and Greg Gorman which wound through a stunning mini-gallery of Epson-printed images.

Kodak had John Sexton, the fine art black and white photographer coached by Ansel Adams, at a tiny circular table tucked away in a corner of their booth, signing copies of his art books.
The general consensus among show veterans is that the PhotoPlus Expo is shrinking; there are fewer suppliers at the show and the mix of suppliers is trending to consumer and prosumer fare rather than the bleeding edge of photographic technologies.

Most of the seminars were half-full, reflecting both the ready availability of the information offered by speakers in books on the show floor and the breakpoint challenges that these new technologies pose to traditional photographers.
But it's still a big show that attracts a fair crowd, even in an age in which all conferences take a hit from the new communities and instant information that the Internet has brought to many disciplines.
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