The Photography Show will alternate between Birmingham and London from 2025

Mar 18, 2024

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

The Photography Show will alternate between Birmingham and London from 2025

Mar 18, 2024

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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The Photography and Video Show

The largest photography show in the UK, The Photography Show (technically, The Photography and Video Show, but everyone here calls it “TPS”), isn’t even over for 2024 yet. The last day of the show is tomorrow, but there’s already news for 2025.

The show’s organisers, Future PLC, have announced that from 2025, it’s going to alternate venues each year. It’ll stay at the Birmingham NEC, where it’s been for the past decade, but it’ll alternate each year with ExCel London.

History of The Photography Show

The Photography Show was launched by Future PLC in 2014 as a consumer show. It replaced the Focus on Imaging trade show, which ended in 2013 after a run of 24 years.

Focus on Imaging was marketed as a trade show for professionals. But towards the end, it didn’t feel like one. Pretty much anyone could get a “trade” pass, and it essentially became a consumer show. While the show’s downfall was never publicly explained, there were a lot of obvious things going wrong.

Future PLC took a big gamble attempting to take over the venue and the annual slot that Focus on Imaging previously maintained. But Future made a smart decision. They made The Photography Show an actual consumer show from day one.

For most consumers, this meant business as usual after having visited Focus during its last few years of lax entry requirements. It meant we were seeing more retailers and sales inside the show, and a wider range of companies that catered to consumers as well as professionals.

An uncertain last few years

For the next 10 years, The Photography Show ticked along, growing each year. There was, of course, some interruption during the COVID pandemic, with 2020’s show cancelled, 2021’s and 2022’s shows shifted to September (with a day off for the Queen’s funeral) and no show at all in 2023.

The lack of show in 2023 was disappointing but logical. Future wanted to bring the show back to its regular March dates. Having a show in September and then another one 6 months later is not enough time for companies to prepare.

We know this because many individuals and companies said the same thing about Photokina switching from September to May. Companies refused to go because there wasn’t enough time to replenish stock and prepare for another show. Attendees also couldn’t justify the expense of travel and accommodation so soon after the previous show.

So, skipping 2023 was logical.

So, what’s happening next?

The Photography Show has decided to alternate venues each year from next year onwards. The new venue they’re adding is ExCel London. It’s an excellent venue if you’ve never been and houses quite a few consumer, trade and industry shows throughout the year.

It’s going to be a bit of a gamble, but it makes sense for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, it’s a lot easier for most people to get to London than it is to get to Birmingham. Heathrow and Gatwick are more accessible to most international flyers with better ticket prices. There’s also a much higher general tourist population in London, bringing in more foot traffic.

It’s also a lot easier to get around and visit nearby places.

The NEC is a bit out of the way. This is one of the biggest complaints I’ve heard at the shows from vendors, exhibitors and others actually working the show. You’ve spent a good £30+ in an Uber just to get from the Airport/NEC hotels into Birmingham City Centre, where you can actually enjoy yourself after the show closes.

London ExCel is about a 20-minute walk from the nearest tube station, which will take you anywhere in London. You’ll wait longer than that in Birmingham just for your Uber to show up.

When’s it happening?

The Photography Show 2024 is currently ongoing at the Birmingham NEC. The last day of this year’s show is tomorrow. The Photography Show will be coming to ExCel London starting in 2025. In 2026, the show will go back to the Birmingham NEC.

After that, the two venues will flip-flop and alternate each year. It’s an interesting decision, even if it does make some sense. It will be interesting to see how many visitors attend the show at each location but also how much cross-over there is.

How many people will only go to the NEC show because it’s in Birmingham? How many will only go to ExCel because it’s in London? But how many of the attendees will also be alternating each year and visiting both venues?

Will it move permanently to London?

This is a question that Future hasn’t answered either way, but I think it’s a valid one. I think Future expects that the shows will happily alternate between the two locations forever. Or, Future may be planning this as the beginning of a more permanent transition to London in a few years.

I hadn’t imagined that Future would shift the venue of The Photography Show away from the NEC (even alternate years). But with recent news of Birmingham essentially being a bankrupt city and its uncertain future, perhaps that permanent move will come at some point.

For now, though, The Photography Show will bounce between Birmingham (the even years) and London (the odd years). And if you really want to visit, you’ve got until the end of business tomorrow to visit TPS 2024.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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14 responses to “The Photography Show will alternate between Birmingham and London from 2025”

  1. Darren Littlehales Avatar
    Darren Littlehales

    Doesn’t London already have a large camera show every year?

    1. John Aldred Avatar
      John Aldred

      Darren Littlehales Yeah, but it’s targeted towards broadcast. The Media Production and Technology Show – Formerly known as the Broadcast Video Expo (video, not photo). It’s also a trade show. Trade only. Strictly enforced. The Photography Show is a consumer show. Anyone can go in.

    2. Steve Spurgin Avatar
      Steve Spurgin

      Darren Littlehales The Societies Show is in January, having temporarily moved to March when TPS was in September. It’s not quite the same,

  2. Barry Mountford Avatar
    Barry Mountford

    That’s a very interesting move John Aldred.

    1. John Aldred Avatar
      John Aldred

      Barry Mountford Yeah, I’m curious to see how this will play out long term.

    2. Darren Littlehales Avatar
      Darren Littlehales

      John think alot of people will be thinking the same

  3. Gary Hurdman Avatar
    Gary Hurdman

    Interesting comparison of a £30 Uber to get into town at Birmingham compared to a 20 minute walk to a train station at Excel?

    There’s a train station at the NEC, a 5 minute walk down an indoor, weather protected corridor.

    I might also argue that 70% of the country can get to Birmingham as easy or easier than London, it being more central.

    But that’s just sour grapes from me, I go to 2 or 3 days of the show because it’s a half hour drive for me.

    London will cost me a hotel room dagnammit!

    ;)

    1. Darren Littlehales Avatar
      Darren Littlehales

      Gary same here, 30min to Birmingham, it more or less central in the country, now a 3 hour drive, or hotel room. and yes i have already looked at other options due to past travel before anyone says anything

    2. John Aldred Avatar
      John Aldred

      Gary Hurdman I suppose that one’s more from the side of people working at the show. The trains don’t run very late to the NEC. So, you’re still paying £30 to get back to your hotel. Most exhibitors, vendors, press, stay at hotels by the airport for obvious reasons. There isn’t exactly a lot to do near the airport after about 7pm.

      I might also argue that it’s easier for a lot of people to get to London because cheap flights from Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, etc. are a lot more often than flights to Birmingham. I live near Glasgow. It’s cheaper for me to fly to London than to Birmingham. For people in and hear Birmingham, every other year, it’s going to be more difficult for you. For every other year, it’s going to be a lot easier for others. :)

  4. Damian Avatar
    Damian

    The BCC is bankrupt but not the city. Doesn’t make a difference. The NEC doesn’t belong to the council.

  5. Steve C Avatar
    Steve C

    The Motor show did this. It alternated between Brum and London – eventually moving exclusively to London then it finished.

  6. Steve Spurgin Avatar
    Steve Spurgin

    What are the exhibitors view, I’ve hear that two not to small exhibitors aren’t currently keen on the idea. Cost must certainly be more expensive for them to put staff up in London.

  7. Jonathan Avatar
    Jonathan

    I won’t go to the London one, I’m just not interested. If they leave Birmingham I’ll never do one again and I’ve been going since the start of Focus on imaging

  8. Mike Williams Avatar
    Mike Williams

    I was with a group of 10 from the Northwest of England and Yorkshire at the NEC this year, and we have been regular attendees over the years. The NEC is an easy option for us; reasonable travel time, inexpensive drive down, easy to park, and the same on the return leg. I once went to the Motorshow when it moved to Excel from NEC – what a nightmare, and three times the cost too and by the time we arrived it was midday and said “Never again”.

    Our WhatsApp group of 15 have discussed going to the show next year at Excel, but none have committed to attending. All have cited the cost and hassle to get there, and I suspect we are not alone in thinking this. I do understand the commercial decision to do this, and it makes sense to cater to possibly a narrower demographic with deeper pockets, additionally, it follows the general London-centric focus of much of English life now.

    My impression is that this is more about catering to people in London who are reluctant to exit the M25 bubble than gaining ease of accessibility nationally – perhaps the organisers are London-based, and find it distasteful to have to go outside the M25 and “up North” to Birmingham where the great unwashed reside! I’m old enough and have worked down ‘the smoke’ often enough in my career to have experienced this attitude many times.