But why do you go?
Over the last year I've been lucky enough to have met so many incredible photographers that are also amazing human beings (because let me tell you, there are also incredible photographers that are douche-bags). And these types of events are the things where we all get to see each-other again, hang out and catch up.
As a photographer, it's a lonely type of business most of the time. Let's be honest, we spent quite a lot of time behind our computers. Infatuated with our screens. Paralyzed in a chair in a devoted relationship with Lightroom, Photoshop and our e-mailservers. No real social connections there.
So when the time comes that there's a fair in town, we all crawl out of our (wo)mancaves to enjoy eachothers company and bitch about pain in the ass commissions or struggles that we encounter in our day to day life.
But Lieke, I don't know anybody,
how do I meet my peers without being a creep?
Because that is the other tip that I would like to give. If you know somebody from the interwebs, you know their work, you've seen them somewhere before, just go over and say hello. They rarely bite you know!
Be proactive. If there's a lecture or a masterclass at the fair by this awesome photographer that you know but there's nobody attending that you know? Go anyway, you might meet some fantastic people while you're there!
Try to be outgoing, even if it scares you.
I've been fortunate enough to have two awesome companies that I'm working together with and it's always a good idea to meet up with them at these shows to see what the latest is and how you can extend the collaboration.
There are always companies that are looking for ambassadors to promote their product. But please beware that you don't do this for 'the free stuff'. Of course it's awesome to get something, but if you normally wouldn't use their products or have never before, the collaboration with that company might not be such a great fit.
Another 'group' of exhibitors that you can find at the trade shows are the magazines. In the Netherlands we have quite a few magazines on photography and there are always some to be found at the fairs.
If you feel like your work is good enough to finally get published, walk up to them and ask what you would need to do to be featured and they will probably ask you for an example of your work.
all @ Photokina 2016
My advice to you, go to the next one in your country/region. Go with an open heart, an open mind and see what happens. No pressure!
To give more of a visual of how these tradeshows / fairs look. I created a vlog that I shot during the Professional Imaging trade show from last weekend (18 - 19 - 20 March 2017).