Monday, November 17, 2014

le Salon de la Photo ~ Paris ~ 2014

There are no doubt numerous "show reports" floating around out there regarding this year's Salon de la Photo.  What could I possible add?  Perhaps not much, but here it goes in any event.

Scenes from le Salon de la Photo ~ 2014

Arriving at opening time is a prime recipe for getting squashed in a righteous French-style queue.  You see, it's Madness and Bedlam as people wade or crowd-surf their way to one or two Gate Keepers.  The Gate Keepers are the ones with the scanners.

Ah... I see I need to explain something, so let me back up a bit.

Last year someone laughed at me when I asked where one buys a ticket to le Salon.  The way the game is played here is that you get an "invitation" to the event.  Unlike fashion runway shows, receiving an "invitation" is as easy as reading Paris Match.

Scenes from le Salon de la Photo ~ 2014

There's a "code" that specifies who's doing the "inviting".  These "codes" are widely available and it seems like any and all dogs, cats, critters, and companies issue them.  Chose a "code", any "code".  They're free.  As in No Charge.  Gratuit.  Zip.  Zero.

Enter a "code" into the Salon website in the right place and what you get is a PDF you can print.  The PDF has, among other things, a bar-code and this is your ticket into the show.

Easy.  Right?  When it comes to free, you don't know the lengths Parisians will go to make sure there is Egalitie, Libertie, and, well, forget the Fraternitie, OK?  You realize the pecking order of what's important once you're queued.  Any Fraternity comes from how closely packed you are, not from the level of conviviality you might imagine the word should have meant.

Close your eyes and try to envision hundreds of Old Farts of all sizes, shapes, and heights doing their level best to elbow their way to the front of the queue where two and only two men with bar-code scanners await to grant you entry.  Or not.

We'd chosen the wrong side of the scrum.  I mean, queue.  No.  I think scrum adequately describes the experience.  Two elderly gents had reached the front of the scrum and... their bar-codes were not scanning properly... they were arguing with the Bar Code Handlers... and the scrum was becoming as anxious as a herd of Zebras who smelled Lions in the brush...

Scenes from le Salon de la Photo ~ 2014

Our neighbor, Jude, and I skirted the scrum to the other side... et... voila!  After a 25minute surge forward we were having our "invitations" scanned and, as it was a tight squeeze past the Old Geezers Who Must Argue with a Bar Code Handler, it felt like we might be Watermelon seeds being squirted out into the rusting dented parts missing automobile strewn yard while... um... nevermind that.  It was a funny feeling to go from the scrum into the peaceful, calm area inside the barrier to the show floor.

Collecting ourselves (mentally) we found our directions and headed off to see a few nice photographs.  The camera gear portion of le Salon could wait until my wife and neighbor left the show 45 minutes later.

I find it fascinating that HUGE scrums of Fraternitie Loving French People are seen huddled around the camera equipment displays, fondling the latest, greatest, sometimes hugely expensive tools of image making... and you can almost hear the crickets chirping in the areas where the results of putting Image Making Tools to use are displayed.

Why is it that so many people love the tools and so few try to appreciate the art?

Scenes from le Salon de la Photo ~ 2014

Considering the art, one thing that impressed me and at the same time confirmed what I'd proven thru testing was a display of 20x30inch(approx) images made using 16mpixel micro-4/3rd's Image Making Tools.  They were lovely to look at.  They were well composed, well exposed, well printed, and looked every bit as good as photographs printed to the same size taken using 50mpixel medium format sensors.  Yes.  It might be difficult to believe.  To me the Truth was in the seeing.  I was blown away.  Which tool is less important than the results of your artistic process.

Kissing my lovely wife goodbye and telling her "I'll be home later" left me to my own (evil?) devices.  Ah, Libertie!

I wanted to experience the Egalitie of Sharp French Elbows by fondling a few Image Making Tools myself.  To get there I needed to Egalitie my Sharp American Elbows to a camera manufacturer's display of choice.  It had to begin with Sony.

Being on a Mission from the Muse of Photographic Arts meant I was looking to downsize my camera kit.  The older I get the bigger and heavier the Old Beast has become.  Unless it's gained weight eating all that light (which it hadn't) the issue rests with me.  I'm getting old.

I tried my version of Egalitie out on the poor French peoples, elbows and all, and found myself quickly at a Display Counter Filled with Dreams.

Scenes from le Salon de la Photo ~ 2014
Your Humble Servant
on a Mission from the Muse of Photographic Arts 

After a short disappointing look at a Dream A7R (size and weight challenges for me) a strange and eerie light beckoned. It was like First Love.  Or Last Love at First Light.  Um, maybe it was First Love at First Sight.  Whatever.  I could tell there were important differences between what I was holding and what I was looking at.

On the other side of the Sony counter sat a pair of A6000 mirrorless APS-C sized sensor mini-wonders.  I had to try them out and Egalitie'd my way around the Display Counter Filled with Dreams.

Cutting to the Chase, I bought a boitier nu from a Paris local store shortly after realizing my dreams had come true.

If interested, you can read my prior post on testing an A6000 against the Old Beast.

Scenes from le Salon de la Photo ~ 2014

The rest of the show was a haze of images, sounds, further Egalitie-Elbows and More Scrum.  Trade shows can be loud crazy affairs and the Salon to me borders on chaos.  If I hadn't been on a Mission from the Muse of Photographic Arts I'd like to think I would avoid the place.  But that's not true.

I find I love the Fraternitie scrum, Sharp French Elbow'd Egalitie, and trans-national-corporate-sponsored Libertie as only the French can deliver it.  Besides, le Salon is a free "code", a short walk, an elderly scrum, and a scanned bar-code away.

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