Without doubt there is no better photo art fair than Paris Photo. There's something for everybody. For me it's not so much the work on the walls. I'm a photographer and writer, not a collector, and besides the price tags are too rich for my budget and I've run out of wall space anyway. Then there are the photobooks. With Steidl and MAC alone that will keep the average photobook collector running on a high for some time.
Paris Photo for me is all about the people. Despite the fact that everybody is doing it, the photo world is very small and there is a feeling that everybody knows each other. The pleasure is in hanging out and renewing friendships and meeting new people.
The Grand Palais is an amazing venue, like several football fields rolled into one. But always a chance to meet. For example:
Todd Hido on the lookout for new books and later at his gallery show opening. Dewi Lewis and Caroline Warhurst to chew the fat about publishing. John Gossage with his latest bookworks and his show opening at Galerie LWS. Lewis Baltz and Slavica Perkovic book signing at librarie Mazarine. Stephan Zaubitzer to touch base on his LA cinema shoot. David Kregenow searching for more photographers to shoot. Terri Weifenbach and an unexpected meal with Yasunori Hoki. Jeroen Kummer and a productive talk about book design. Jimmy Tomenou from librarie agnes b. Jeffrey Ladd with the latest from errata editions. Sebastien Girard with his stunning new book, Strip - o - Gram. David Bennewith, NZ designer based in Holland. Tim Clark from 1000 Words photography. Aron Morel from Morel Books, London. Xavier Ribas, photographer and photo-educator whom I hadn't seen for 12 years or more and a gift of his new book Nomads. Jim Cooke from Brighton University photography department. Diane Dufour directrice of le-bal. Christian Patterson. Gerry Badger.
Morten Anderson, first sighted eyeing the books in galerie Yvon Lambert. Henry Wessel and a drink with Lewis Baltz at cafe Flor. Jill Hartley and her book-launch. Myriam Barchechat and more talk about book design. Chris Coekin and a surprise gift of his wonderful book The Altogether. Paul Graham at his Hasselblad Award presentation. David Campany with Paul Graham. Lotte Sprengers, Dutch photographer and a gift of her new book Home. Corinne Noordenbos and a chance to repay the 30 Euro I owed her. Damien Lafargue, Sylvia Ammon and photobook talk. Bruno Ceschel from Self Publish Be Happy. Frits Gierstberg from Nederlands Fotomuseum. Quentin Bajac on his way to MoMA NYC. Curt Holtz, publisher Prestel. Wolfgang Zurborn and the anticipation of Kolsch in Cologne. Maciek Herman from Warsaw. Yossi Milo and talk of Hurricane Sandy. Ferdinand Brueggeman galerie Priska Pasquer, Cologne. Rinko Kawauchi, Koji Onaka, Patrick Remi, Pedro Alfacinha, Clare Strand, British photographer whose work I like but had never met. Jessica Backhaus, Nigel Dickinson, Bruno Hadjadj from galerie Spree, Paris. Harper Levine and more new photobooks than you can imagine. Stephen Gill with his new book Coexistance, Nina Poppe, Christophe Schifferli, Florence Loewy, Bert Teunissen, Joachim Schmid, Jonathan Lewis, Andrew Phelps with his new bookwork Haboob. Yannick Bouillis, Eva Marie Ocherbauer, Marc Feustel, Maxwell Anderson, Susan Lipper, Chiara Capodici, Torben Eskerod, Rolf Philips, Christine Rose Divito, and more...
This may appear to be name dropping. Perhaps it is. But I simply wanted to make the point that Paris Photo is about making connections, learning, and hanging out with people you like and respect. It's about luck too. Sitting home and looking at the wall isn't going to get you anyplace, but by turning up at Paris Photo surprise connections and opportunities will occur. As Woody Allen says, 90 per cent of life is showing up. And he's right.
You can go to the Paris Photo 2012 site here.
Read more of Harvey Benge's ideas on photography, art and other subjects of interest at his blog.