Focus 2011

For the last 21 Years, at the end of February or the beginning of March my life has been ruled by Focus on Imaging. I’m sure Mary, the organiser, and many of the marketing people working in the bigger companies feel much the same, focussed on Focus. This year has been my first within DIY Framing, and 2 days in (which is where I am whilst I write), this has been the most fun I have had at Focus in all the years! Mounting and framing are so integral to the kind of photography that so many of the visitors to Focus do that our stand is almost constantly crowded with people, eager to see how they can start to cut their own mounts or make frames.

At other shows there is quite a split between those that are looking to mount and frame for themselves and those who want to build a small business, either as a sideline or indeed as a career. Focus is very different: a very large proportion of the people who gravitate to stand B17 are members of camera clubs or photographic societies and they have a clear Idea of what they want to be able to produce. There seems to be a default size that the clubs require, 20” x 16” or 40cm x 50cm external. This appears to start with little local groups and soars to the lofty heights of the RPS. White or cream, no decoration, the mount is only there for protection and framing, the picture is the star!

I had a call recently from a chap who was submitting work to the RPS distinctions panel hoping to gain his licentiateship, their rules actually seem pretty loose, the maximum size and the fact that the picture needs to be able to support itself in a shelf, so a sheet of board. Nothing about window mounts or methods of attachment… However there were lines to read between and if you mount the way we teach, window mount, backing board, image attached to the backing using hinging tape etc. you would certainly not be marked down for presentation!

Back at the NEC, our little haven of physical activity in the corner of hall 9 is very much in the minority, the show is dominated by computing, I consider much of modern photography to be similarly dominated. The cameras do so much but are often used only as a way of capturing the raw materials for the post processing and image manipulation. It is great to see the look on peoples faces when they come to our stand, this is something that people relate to on a very basic level, making things themselves. There is a satisfaction in finishing of the job, making a mount to present your work to your peers to its best advantage. Somehow making something with your hands has more cachet than working on a computer and if one can complement and enhance the other then so much the better.

In the last few paragraphs I am now writing at the end of the third day and am tired from talking and demonstrating: double mounts with fancy corners – piece of cake, I’ll show you… ‘yes sir you could cut your own mounts, do you need to go bigger than 16 by 20?’ “no I wouldn’t recommend selotape for fixing your pictures to the mount…’ One more day and it will be over for another year, it has been fun this time, different from what I have been used to, but much more entertaining.

I will post the pictures when I am back in the office, slotting them in where appropriate – everywhere would be appropriate here of course, this it an exhibition about photography isn’t it?

On second thoughts, maybe I will leave out the pictures as an ironic statement.