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Mary Walker interview - Katie Teesdale of ePHOTOzine caught up with Mary Walker to find out about Focus on Imaging
Katie Teesdale: What was the inspiration behind Focus On Imaging?
Mary Walker: Photokina in Cologne. In the 1980s our industry had a series of much smaller shows than FOCUS, so the trade and end-users didn't have an all-embracing, one stop shopping, imaging experience as our German counterparts do. I thought we deserved to have a UK equivalent and it was long overdue.
KT: Why is Focus so successful, year after year?
MW: FOCUS certainly appears to be a magic formula but is built on the sound business adage of supply and demand. I listen to our industry, ask them what they want and provide it. This secures very large numbers of exhibitors and a vast diversity of products, which in turn draws end-users to the show in droves to see everything under one roof which is available to them - or is up and coming - to develop their business or their hobby.
KT: When do you start planning for the next year's event?
MW: At least four months prior to the current show taking place, so each shows' run-in is about 16 months. FOCUS is growing all the time and is so important to the trade, particularly as a launch pad for new products; they need to plan their own participation well in advance.
KT: How has the profile of the exhibitors changed since it's inception?
MW: A shrinking world, the need for an annual update, the pace of change with digital and computer technology has greatly expanded our exhibitor base and the International content of the show. In terms of key players and personalities, the heart of FOCUS still represents the household names we all know in the imaging industry, many of whom have had to radically alter their marketing strategy over the last decade to successfully meet the challenge of the demand for new products.
KT: If you could see 5 years into the future how do you think the show will
MW: I constantly have to see into the future just like any other successful business. FOCUS is now in rapid growth and certainly within five years I will need to expand my 15,000 plus square meters of hall space to accommodate yet more exhibitors and increasing stand space.
KT: With such a huge surge in the Digital market do you believe that "traditional"
photography will ever phase out?
MW: If the desired end product is an image then the process used to make that image is a means to an end. In such a creative field as the imaging industry, we are incredibly lucky to have a choice of processes and should keep all those different options in the image-makers' toolbox.
KT: The night before Day 1 of the show, do you sleep?
MW: Aside from overseeing the smooth running of FOCUS whilst it's being staged, much of my job has been done before the exhibition takes place. I look forward tremendously to everyone enjoying the show. I do admit though to rampant stage fright just before the show is opened but I consider this to be perfectly normal.
KT: What motivates you year after year?
MW: The job satisfaction from planning and staging an event like FOCUS, which is so important to the imaging marketplace, is immense. Every FOCUS is different and like a launch to me, because the development of products is so rapid and the new companies appealing to our market so diverse.
KT: If some of our readers have never visited Focus before and are considering
coming, what would you say to entice them to the show?
MW: In a nutshell, if you're into imaging get into FOCUS! You will never see so many current, new and futuristic products, services, ideas, information and inspiration in one place anywhere else, or have the opportunity to meet and talk with the innovators, the movers and shakers, the famous and the infamous. The opportunity to develop your business, increase profits, improve your productivity and your creativity or to further your art (and have a great time) awaits you from 23 -26 February 2003.