Today was the last full day of the Professional Photographers of America national convention, Imaging USA. Held in Nashville, it turned out to be the most widely-attended national convention in the history of the organization. More than 10,000 photographers attended, making it one of the largest trade shows and conferences of its kind.
I spoke today at Imaging USA. My topic was how photographers can use social media to grow their business. I spoke at 7:30 am and about 500 photographers showed up. I couldn’t believe that many got up that early after some great all-night parties. And that is indicative of how the whole convention went. Packed auditoriums, conference rooms and trade show booths.
Frankly, I didn’t know what to expect. The industry has been in flux along with the economy. Canon pulled out of the Photo Marketing Association trade show this year (PMA) but had a large presence on the Imaging USA trade show floor, as did Nikon, Kodak, Epson and hundreds of other exhibitors. I had lots of friends there including our sponsors WHCC, Lensbaby and Expo Imaging. I also saw my friends from the National Association of Photoshop Professionals.
The classes were very well attended. In almost every situation there were standing room only crowds. The level of education at the conference was first rate.
But what I really want to mention before I wrap is the incredible postive buzz at the show. People were acting as if there were no recession. I spoke with all the major vendors on the show floor and all reported brisk response. To a booth they were very happy with both the traffic and the quality of the people visiting their booths.
There was an air of optimism that really refreshed me. The positive mood in the professional photography community seems to decry the national mood. Professional photographers are generally reporting that their sales are up or no worse than flat, with the primary negatives being that they simply have to work harder to make the same money. But in an era where others are completely out of work, working a little extra to win seems like a small price to pay.
I hope the Imaging USA conference buzz represents a vibrant 2010. It’s too early to see if the positive attitude we saw here in Nashville will continue.
But it was refreshing and invigorating. I am glad I came and I even learned a thing or two while sitting in on some of the other speaker’s sessions.
The next Imaging USA will be in January 2011 in San Antonio, Texas.