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Trade/Consumer Shows, Seminars & Conventions • #1 Place to Learn

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New members always ask, how do I get started at IPA?  The questions are usually geared to those that want to learn the art of becoming a professional photojournalist and a Member In Good Standing at IPA.

We especially love to cover interesting trade and consumer shows because there are so many of them being held in most cities around the globe.  It doesn’t have to be New York City or even London, it can be the small towns too that host local events, trade or consumer shows.

There are eating contests like the hot dog eating contest held recently at Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island, NY or a Beer Festival held in almost every town and city in the world.  Of course there are the more popular ones like the SALON INTERNATIONAL DE LA LINGERIE in Paris.

There are so many of these events, shows, conventions and seminars that any member of IPA that has completed their professional profiles on our site and are Members In Good Standing, would have easy access to most.  Now you may ask, how does covering a show or event like these help my career.  There are many ways it can.

Here is a simple list of some of them:

  1. You will learn how to gain important media access to not only shows, but other events as well.
  2. You will get a feel for a working press room at events. Most of the larger shows will have a fully staffed press room offering refreshments, computer and internet access so you can send in your stories from the venue and in all cases will have press releases and often free samples of exhibitor products for your consideration and possible review.
  3. You will learn how to plan your coverage by deciding how to cover the show and which exhibitors you should see first.
  4. Before the shows, you can even set up appointments with your list of companies you want to see at the shows.
  5. At the show you will be given the opportunity to meet the show exhibitors, in many cases you will be interviewing the senior officer of those companies or their sales or marketing managers or staff.
  6. We assume you will be taking photos and or videos or both at the show, there will be many opportunities to shoot the exhibits, products, exhibitor staff members and any events that take place at these shows.  At food shows there will always be some sort of competition and many demonstrations.  At international travel shows, you will have an opportunity to meet people from around the world that will offer you the opportunity to sample their food or drink or even take part in a local activity like rock climbing or playing conga drums.
  7. If you want to meet potential clients some of these shows can prove to be better then any networking seminar you have ever gone too.  After all, you will be covering the event for IPA and talking to decision makers at most companies. It is a great time to introduce yourself, exchange business cards and find out if they hire freelance photographers or journalists.
  8. If you are like me and find you have some extra time, you can usually attend any of the paid seminars at these shows free of any cost.  I especially like the ones being held at the PhotoPlus Expo in New York where I can hone my skills using Photoshop or other equipment I might be using.
  9. You will find many companies more then happy to give you some samples of their products.  I will usually accept ones I feel have merit and those I believe I can include in our review or in future articles.  It is not uncommon to be gifted expensive computer software, photographic equipment and accessories, bags of food, give aways and premiums at many shows and of course wholesale of below wholesale prices should you want to purchase an item.
  10. Once you return from the shows, it will be your job to sit down and write your review of the show and process your photo and or video files.  We have a number of reviews I have written on the IPA web site and you can see others our members have written to give you some idea of what you may want to do with yours.
  11. It is important to list those companies or products you felt deserved special recognition at the shows.  Most of the information on those companies and their products can be found on their web sites and you can even take a screen shot of their products, company logos, or any other information you might want to use in your review.
  12. If you have lots of photos and video clips, you can use a program like iMovie on the Mac to produce a nice show video that combines all of your images and videos.  I like to upload mine to YouTube and on my larger projects to Vimeo.
  13. See video shot at the 2009 PDN PhotoPlus show in New York.

  14. If you only have still images, upload them to one of the many photo sites like Picasa Web, Flickr or others, take the insertion code they offer for their slide shows and simple insert them into your reviews.
  15. Below is a Picassa Web slide show of some photos I shot on July 4, 2010.  So easy to do and so effective in your reviews.

  16. Finally, once you have published your article or review on our web site, send an email to every person you mentioned in the article and to the show organizer or individual who gave you the media access to the event, to thank them for that access and let them know your review or article has been published and give them the direct link to that article on our web site.  I usually ask them to review it for accuracy and request that they email you if they have caught any errors in your article that need to be corrected.
  17. One last suggestion.  It is a good idea to build your portfolio to include a number of these shows and events. It will help you hone your skills, teach you how to interview people for your articles and of course help you produce a professionally published article not only for our web site, but for other assignments you may be asked to cover.

There is nothing better for an IPA member who wants to learn the “Ropes” then to cover these events. I love to do them and some I have covered a number of times over the years. I have made many new friends, have gotten IPA onto many media lists, that seem to be shared with companies and other event producers and that makes it easier in the future to gain the media access I need to do my job.

Give it a try, even if it is a local show or event. I have covered everything from the local Jazz Festivals to important medical conventions and although the techniques I use are the same, each show teaches me a bit more so I can do a better job the next time.

Published July 24, 2010 – Len Rapoport

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