Interview: Jon Sharp – The UK Photobooth Show
2017 is the year that sees the launch of the very first UK Photobooth Show. Yes, an exhibition; a celebration of the ever-evolving and growing segment of the event photography sector, that will land for two days in Northhampton next week
PhotoBite spoke with organiser, Jon Sharp about the inaugural event that promises to deliver a broad spectrum of event photo services and solutions between the 17th and 18th October at the Franklins Gardens in Northhampton.
PhotoBite: What has led you to organise this exhibition; the first event of its kind in the UK?
Jon Sharp: Some people may be aware of the incredible explosion of photobooths in the US photo and events market. As a result of this market growth in the mid-2000s, a specialist event launched in Las Vegas and has subsequently been extremely popular for a good few years, now. We also became aware of a startup exhibition for the same market in Australia, last year, and given the fact that the photobooth market in Australia isn’t as well established as it is in the UK and Europe, we believed that we’d seen enough growth across Europe, with a significant increase in vendor numbers to demonstrate a sufficient market. These combined factors led us to believe that there was both viability and enough diversity to warrant the show.
PB: What’s your history in this market, Jon?
JS: I started out in event photography; predominantly social events with green screens and portable studios at black tie events. In 2008, though, I’d spotted the photobooth trend kicking off in the USA. I could also see that it was clearly going to develop here in the UK, too, so in 2009 we launched as one of the first photobooth rental operators in the UK events market. Coincidentally, we lost our retail business in the floods in Cumbria that year, so it gave us the impetus and opportunity to develop the new business.
PB: How has your experience been in bringing the new exhibition to fruition?
JS: Well I don’t have a lot of experience in organising events of this scale, so it has been a challenge. I’ve had a lot of help from third parties and it’s been somewhat of a team effort to get the show off the ground.
PB: Can you see the rented photobooth trend continuing to grow in the UK into the future?
JS: Definitely. It’s now a staple in the wedding market; be that a hired-in booth, or a set of Instant cameras in the corner of the reception, people now expect something of that nature to be present.
PB: Are there any specialist European events serving this space, or are you the first?
JS: There are specialist event expos in parts of Europe that include offerings such as dancefloors, discos, games, that also include photobooths, but there are no specific specialist photobooth shows.
PB: So what should we look out for by way of highlights at this inaugural event?
JS: As with any products in technology and/or events markets, products and solutions constantly change and evolve. The Photobooth Show will reflect these trends by way of innovations like 360 degrees/VR booth solutions, slo-mo booths, GIF booths and a lot more. With regards to speakers, we’ve focused on business aspects in order to help individuals to grow their own businesses. That’s really central to the show and we believe we have some industry-leading speakers at the show this year including Matt Franks from Fotomaster, Eliott Gosling from L.A. Party Photobooth. Also Lee Johnson, who runs one of the top franchises, Smiley Booth, talking about the fundamental issue of pricing, along with a resident social media marketing guru in the shape Kristin Halstead, and more. We have a really strong mix of photo booth styles and mirror booths [naturally], props and backdrop hire/manufacture/sales companies, along with hardware suppliers from the UK and from across Europe. We’ve even had one supplier sign up to visit from the US.
PB: Are visitor numbers looking good?
JS: Ticket sales for the conference are looking great. We’re really pleased, and so far, numbers are in line with what we were hoping for in our original targets. Of course, there’s still room for a few more, so if your readers have an interest in the event photo market, or are looking at ways in which to build and diversify their photography business, in general, then they really should pay a visit.
PB: Is your intention to run the show annually?
JS: We’d like to see the event launch annually in some shape or form. As you’d expect with any launch event, people can be quite reserved when it comes to getting involved or supporting the event [in general]. We’ve been cautious to organise an event that’s the right size for a first in its sector, but I do believe that it has great scope to grow to become the go-to event for the specialist photobooth and event photography show for the European market.