Photokina, the biennial photography show that generally promises the most surprises and anticipated releases has announced what sounds like a major overhaul, and for those acquainted with the photography trade shows this is a much-needed step in the right direction if trade shows are to remain relevant, or indeed in existence.

The first major alteration to Photokina as we know it is that it is set to become an annual event instead of biennial, and instead of taking place in its usual September slot the month of May will play the new host to the show starting 2019. However, a change of season isn’t the biggest shift, as Photokina will also be condensing, intensifying, and branching out.

Photokina 2018 will take place between the 26-29th of September but the series of days/events will be changing, which according to the press release“…enables a more compact, more intensive trade fair experience.” Beyond that, however, the crux of the adjustment seems to be the recognition and actual embracing of the fact that the photography industry is no longer an analogue foray, and is as much a digital tech and computer space as anything else. The official press release spoke directly to this, mentioning this expanded imaging ecosystem, and that’s something we’ve yet to really see elsewhere on the show circuit.

What this should signal to everyone in our industry is that the industry is so far changed from 5 years ago and that other shows, companies, and news outlets need to change with it. As much as there is surely value to be had from the other major shows here in the US, in many ways the community was their last major attractor (that suffered in 2017 so far), especially in years Photokina was taking place and taking the thunder of product announcements. The shows stateside would be wise to adopt more the Photokina approach immediately and draw in the greater tech world as part of our ‘imaging ecosystem’.


One of the things those who frequent the shows here will know is, the circuit here has become predictable, with the same speakers, providing much the same information, using the same format, and to the same crowd. The crowd factor is a double-edged-sword, because one the one hand that community is lovely and it’s lovely to see familiar faces and for us all to be together – but it’s also stagnant, and that highlights like size-72 font on A4 paper that the shows are completely out of touch with the new generation; what they seek, how they consume, what they like to do and see, and what they need. Without this group, however, there will be no forward momentum, so I applaud Photokina’s temerity to step outside the lines.

What are your thoughts on the matter? What would you like to see at trade shows?

Photokina Press Release

Photokina will take place annually as of 2018. It will in future thus optimally reflect the fast-paced nature and the ever briefer innovation cycles of an increasingly digitalised industry. As of 2019 the trade fair will also have a new date in May. In addition to innovations from the core areas of the imaging workflow, the entire range of products, applications and services of relevance for imaging shall in future be presented in Cologne. With these changes, the transformation process begun in 2016 shall be consistently continued: under the umbrella of “Imaging Unlimited”, photokina last year inspired both exhibitors and visitors and accessed new target groups for the industry.

“The digital transformation of the imaging industry is advancing, and thus opening up new perspectives and value creation potential. The new date and the annual cycle should in future make photokina even more attractive to all providers of the imaging ecosystem. In this way, we show the specialised trade, the media and our users an even broader bandwidth of state-of-the-art products, applications and services in Cologne which especially suits the young imaging culture,” Rainer Führes, chairman of the board of the photography industry association (PIV) is pleased to state.

The imaging ecosystem today also includes, in addition to the core areas from the imaging workflow, trend areas like virtual and augmented reality, cloud computing, as well as image recognition and holography. The growing flood of images and videos must be processed and administered, so that archiving and content management, social media and communities are coming increasingly into focus. Apps and software solutions have become indispensable both for professional use and for the end consumer. Smart home applications and computer-generated imaging are once again increasing in importance. Photokina should in future serve as an important international innovation platform.

Katharina C. Hamma, Chief Operating Officer of Koelnmesse GmbH, has a positive perspective on the future of the trade fair: “photokina 2016 has shown us that this traditional brand in our portfolio has lost nothing of its attraction worldwide and in the region. The new concept has been a complete success. photokina has continued to develop further over time, as have the products, services and the market environment presented there. Now we are taking the next logical step by offering a digitally powered product environment an attractive annual platform for presenting the latest innovations and for entering into discussion with traders, specialist users and end customers.”

For the 2018 event, only the series of days is changing: it will take place from Wednesday, 26.09. to Saturday, 29.09, and thus enables a more compact, more intensive trade fair experience.