On the 17th July 2019 I went along, with a friend, to the Wex Concert Photography Experience at Christ Church Spitalfields. It was the first time I’d attended one of their industry events, and it was advertised as a bit of a mix between product testing, shoot experimenting, networking, and, of course, shopping.
The event was running between 12pm-7pm, so people could drop in and out, and we arrived at 4.30pm. The crowds had died down so we were able to move around at our own pace. We were welcomed by a super friendly member of the Wex team who encouraged us to go to the Sony stand to test the Sony a7R IV, and to take photos of the band on stage who were being lit by Rotolight lights.
The set up was quite basic; there were stands down either side of the room with 2 sets at the far end. One set was the main stage where the guest band was playing, and the second was a piano that stood empty until later in the evening when we had a guest lighting demo from Peter
Neill (shootthesound.com). There were also models on the day, but we arrived after they’d finished working so we missed them.
Although the crowd was smaller, it was really difficult to get in to shoot the band. There were a lot of people who didn’t really have much consideration for other people’s space, which also made it hard for someone like me who happens to be vertically challenged. I spent the first part of my time standing back and watching the set, looking at the sets and planning where I’d need to dart in to get the shots that I wanted. For the majority of the time I kept my ISO at 400 and my shutter speed at 1/160 to make sure I could hop in and out as quickly as possible, and catch those fleeting actions from the band as they played.
The piano set was a little more difficult because the space was so much smaller. It was tough because the photographers all took up spots and then didn’t really move so other people could come to the front to get their shots. I managed to get 2 images at the piano set that I really loved, but had to practically crawl on the floor (think Velma Dinkley looking for her glasses) to get them.
Whilst I was hanging back I got to chat to another photographer there who’d come along to the event to have a bit of shooting practice and to network. We had a chat about what we both love to work in and swapped Instagram handles. It was lovely to chat to someone else about settings we’d been using, how we like to work, and what we were professionally working on too.
One of the best things to come out of the evening was being able to work with Rotolight lights. I’ve only really worked with soft boxes for continuous lighting in a studio set up before trying these out and I was super impressed. Not only are they really easy to use, and super responsive to the change in light level and temperature, but the colour of the light was super balanced and not yellow at all. That said, without the smoke machines, you could still get warm tones out of them without too much fiddling with settings or set positioning.
There were also colour filters on hand, these were plastic and much easier to switch around than your usual gel, and the vibrancy, and fill was brilliant. I loved working with the blue and pink filters but would definitely find a use for all of the colours if I had them permanently in my kit!
I did manage to have a cheeky spend up, and saw the super friendly team who sorted me out with a brand new Think Tank belt system to help me carry my kit in when I’m working on location. I hate carrying a huge bag around when I don’t have to, and changing lenses can be a pain when you’re not a huge photographer with assistants abound. The system I have includes 2 lens pouches and a “stuff it” bag to keep my money, phone, and batteries in.
I’ve already used it and am totally in love.
Although the lights were my super find of the day, I do wish that there had been more, smaller, sets/testing stations around so we could have worked with the lights more, and hope that the next event is slightly bigger. It was tough fighting the crowds around one set, and it was less workshop based than I’d imagined. I’d definitely be keen to go to another Wex event though, and am really looking forward to seeing what they come up with next!