If there is one thing that best encapsulates my experience at this year’s PhotoPlus Expo it is: Veni Vidi Vinci. (We Came, We Saw, We Conquered).
I arrived at the Jacob Javits Center at about 9 a.m. and promptly received my press pass. I rushed to the first session. Andrew Rodney, aka. DigitalDog, had begun his seminar on color management. I found a seat to the side of the room, one of the only ones open. His use of simple language to explain the most complex of steps to produce rich, honest color out of our printers was greatly appreciated. The room was packed with people. Let me say this much, if you are ever befuddled about setting up your machine to produce accurate color and you have an opportunity to hear him speak, I urge you to go.
If you are a professional, not knowing how to calibrate your monitor or use those printer profiles will cost you dearly in time, money and eventually clients.
I skipped the first afternoon session and decided to go onto the Expo floor. As expected, it was elbow-to-elbow room only. Canon, Nikon and even Fuji (thanks to their new flagship DSLR, the S3 Pro) were all crowded beyond belief. To top that off, some camera companies had lines stretching beyond their own booths for those of us who wanted to pick up a signed poster or two. It made navigating from one end of the large hall to the other very difficult.
I slid into the third session; Joe McNally‘s workshop on location lighting. Not quite what I expected. Mr. McNally must have been tired. Between self-depracatory quips and anecdotes, he managed to persuade some in the audience that all that is required to light a scene or a subject is a bag full of expensive Nikon Speedlights. I wasn’t terribly impressed or convinced by the presentation; though his story on how he bagged an image at the very tip of the Empire State Building for a National Geographic magazine story made the two-hour session bearable. Next time Mr. McNally, please structure your time to make it a real workshop. If I had paid $80 for that session, I know I would have wanted to get my money back.
Later that evening, I attended a special session moderated by the legendary Peter Howe. The session was cynically titled “Is Anyone Out There Listening? The Relevance of Photojournalism Today.” The panel consisted of photographers from the VII photo agency; Ron Haviv, Lauren Greenfield, Antonin Kratochvil, James Nachtwey and Christopher Morris. Nachtwey went first because he wanted to get to the Eddie Adams wake that evening.
Nachtwey’s slide show made my jaw drop. If you pick up TIME magazine, you will a lot of the images he was showing, but to see them at that size gave them a sense of urgency that one doesn’t experience while flipping through a magazine. Wish he could have said more about the images and his work. Lauren Greenfield followed him but I was just way too tired to sit and listen to her. The images she began to show were from her book, “Girl Culture.”
As I left the Jacob Javits Center, I ran into James Nachtwey. Initially shy about introducing myself, I took off to the other side of the street as soon as it was safe to cross. Nachtwey remained on one side, presumably waiting for a taxi. I thought about it for about a minute, turned back, crossed the street again and extended my hand out – “Mr. Nachtwey, my name is Seshu Badrinath and I am genuinely honored to meet you,” I said. I handed him a card. He quickly stuck it ino his jacket and smirked. He seemed to be in a hurry and I didn’t want to seem like I was cramping his style. So, once again I crossed the street and headed North to Barnard College.