A year and a half after The Photography Show 2020 was postponed, its revival finally arrived on the 18th of September. Elle has been waiting for this day since founding Gearing many moons ago now, and it certainly did not disappoint. Putting blood, sweat and tears into this show, ensuring everything was perfect and running smoothly for the four days, has left us both on a rather indescribable high. A huge amount of pride and exhaustion are the overwhelming emotions but also a ‘well that’s that, what now’ feeling. When the almost sole focus of your workday for several weeks is removed, it can be quite the change. But now, we continue to grow, learn and connect, all of which has been furthered by the many individuals that we met at the show.
As we were setting up at the NEC, we found out that our neighbouring exhibitors were from the analogue world of photography - large format film cameras, film producers, film camera cases and much more. This is a part of the camera industry that both Elle and I were very uneducated about, but a part that we have developed a bit of a penchant and soft spot for since leaving Birmingham. The camera world can certainly be quite a cold and difficult area to form a new company in, but those in the analogue side couldn’t have been more welcoming to us. We were even able to lend a tripod to a company named Intrepid Cameras, who make beautiful large format film cameras down in Hove. Having like minded people - those who put their workers first and prioritise the simple things in life - so close by was very comforting to us. They also had speakers several times a day, in which we heard incredible stories about their sphere. From an inspiring female photographer with autism, to learning about animation and dark rooms, they really taught us and those attending a huge amount.
The first day of the show brought a variety of footfall - professionals, amateurs, bargain hunters and big spenders. We knew that being in the upper echelon of the camera tripod market at price point would mean that some visitors of the show wouldn’t be interested in purchasing our products, but everyone who asked for the price was convinced that it was worth it, whether it was financially viable to them or not. This furthered our confidence that Gearing has a strong place in the market, and that our products bring something new to the table. Being such an embryonic company, especially one that came to fruition during a global lockdown, means that we are significantly lacking in market research. This was the first time that we had wide scale feedback on our tripods from a multitude of areas - from fellow tripod manufacturers, photographers and others in the industry, and all was very reassuring of the direction we are taking the company in.
We noticed very quickly just how few women are working in photography, as it became apparent that we were the only entirely female company at the show. Over the four days, we were asked multiple times who was behind the company, whether we were the sales team, who had thought to create the company, about the founder...the list goes on. There were several red faces, apologies and backtracks from customers when they found out that they were speaking to the founder and her one employee, and that a young woman had decided to bring the company alive of her own accord. Although it was undeniably entertaining watching people squirm uncomfortably as they learned the truth, it was a bit of a snap back to the reality of the world that we live in today - it is often incomprehensible that women can be the backbone of a company, particularly in this industry.
Each day brought with it many characters, in which we learned a lot, spoke a lot and shared a lot with everyone we met. Meeting so many people from so many backgrounds, industries and countries really broadened our horizons. We saw a lot of interest from wedding photographers which is an area we had never given any time to, mainly due to our fundamental lack of knowledge on the area. We also found that many were enquiring about monopods, several of which we sold whilst exhibiting at the show. This particularly shocked Elle and I, as we had never really considered it a particularly interesting product in the Gearing repertoire.
Another highlight of the Photography Show came from Usman of Sonder Creative, and Alex of SWNS, the former a photography journalist and photographer, and the latter a videographer and photographer. Unman has been a friend of Gearing since our early days, providing advice, insight and reviews along the way. They were interested in doing a video interview on our company and our tripods, which we got around to fulfilling on the Monday of the show. Pushing nerves aside, Elle did a phenomenal job of explaining the product and the company, and we are really looking forward to the release of the video.
After the four days had come to a close, we packed up and hit the motorway as the sun began to set. Exhausted but with happy hearts and a sense of melancholy, we mulled over the people we had met, what we had learned and what to remember for future shows. We were amazed and over the moon with the public reaction to our company and our tripods. We learned so much about what people wanted from us in terms of product launch that we will be seriously considering in the next few months, and explored many unseen avenues of the photographic world. We were informed of the many other shows that take place all around the world that we are looking to attend, where we are looking forward to meeting our Gearing supporters from across the globe!
Finally, well done to Elle for making the whole trip so successful. This was our first time working at an exhibition with just the two of us, and though a daunting prospect, it couldn’t have gone better with her leadership, knowledge and unwavering perseverance. Thank you Photography Show 2021, we can’t wait to come back!