The door is open for anyone prepared to set up an annual photography show in the UK after Europeu2019s largest such event, Focus on Imaging, was axed earlier today.

‘Mary Walker Exhibitions would like to announce that the 2013 Focus on Imaging exhibition was the last,’ read a statement about the show, which was open to the public and the trade and has pulled in more than half a million visitors over its 24-year history.

NEWS UPDATE 25 JUNE: Focus show replaced by new photo event

Walker said her time running the event has been ‘immensely rewarding’ and a ‘fantastic journey’.

‘I am certain that the time is right for the industry to perhaps find fresh opportunities and bring new ideas to photographers – maybe we’re due a new revolution of some kind?’

She added: ‘Focus on Imaging will not be sold – I’m simply bringing it to an end.’

‘Gap in calendar’

Among the first to react to the news was Jeremy Gilbert, group marketing manager at Nikon UK who said: ‘We are saddened to hear that Focus on Imaging will no longer be running after so many years – it was the UK’s premier imaging show.

‘Nikon has continually supported the show since its launch and its loss will leave a gap in our calendar of events next year. We wish Mary and her team all the best for the future.’

Giving his initial reaction, Michael Pritchard, director general of the Royal Photographic Society, described the news as a ‘big blow’, but he believes someone else may step in to fill the void.

A spokesperson for Olympus UK told Amateur Photographer (AP): ‘Olympus is naturally saddened to hear that Focus is no more but is already scoping a big event around the same time’.

Ideas are thought to include a ‘big prize, winner-takes-all, photographers’ challenge open to users of all brands’.

Writing on AP’s website forum, photographer Roger Hicks said: ‘A lot of people took Focus on Imaging for granted, without realising what an immense amount of work Mary put into it.

‘Its absence is going to leave a BIG hole in the UK market.

‘Where else could you get your hands on that much kit, and see what it feels like?

‘I was at the first Focus, and the last. I’ll miss it.’

AP Commentary

Despite today’s shock announcement, the decision is likely to have been under consideration by organisers for some time, even before this year’s show, which took place at the Birmingham NEC in early March.

This year, 34,397 people visited the event, around 8% down on 2012.

Amateur Photographer was not aware that Focus faced any financial difficulties.

Rather, it seems the event may have merely become harder and harder to organise.

It is possible organisers became frustrated with last-minute bookings by exhibitors, which had become a trend in recent times.

This may have taken its toll on organisers who were under pressure to fill the large exhibition space at the NEC.

What is clear is that, from today, the path is open for anyone with the ways and means to take up the reins of running a yearly event that proved popular with many AP readers and industry figures.

Chris Cheesman, AP news editor

Focus on Imaging press statement, released earlier today:

‘Following a successful and long-running contribution to the photography industry spanning 
24 years of the annual Focus On Imaging exhibition – and after more than half a million visitors have enjoyed photography through the Show – Mary Walker Exhibitions would like to announce that the 2013 Focus on Imaging exhibition was the last. 

Mary Walker said: “Focus On Imaging will not be sold – I’m simply bringing it to an end.” She continued: “It is with great pride that I look upon an amazing period of time in my life, where I continually worked hard to run Focus On Imaging to the absolute best of my ability. I myself, the Show and my committed team have witnessed the phenomenal growth and revolutionary changes that have come to the photographic industry, and I am proud to have offered photographers and manufacturers an opportunity to come together professionally and personally over the years.”

Mary said: “There are now so many elements of a photographer’s working life that we simply could not have imagined back at the inception of the original ‘Focus On Photography’ as it was 24 years ago. 
It’s been an immensely rewarding job that has brought experiences and friendships that will always remain. I am certain that the time is right for the industry to perhaps find fresh opportunities and bring new ideas to photographers – maybe we’re due a new revolution of some kind?” 

Mary is aware that she has a long list of people to thank, concluding: “I would like to offer my thanks to all of the exhibiting companies, large and small – both now and in the history of the Show – for their support; then of course my small team who have helped make everything happen each year; and certainly Focus would never have been the experience that it became without the visitors who walked through its doors. It’s been a fantastic journey.”‘

  • Adrian Jasper

    The closure of this is very sad as this was the only show dedicated to photographers to see what was new. I hope that at some stage a yearly event will take place in the UK. This show you got a lot of information there are many amateur and professional photographers out there that really enjoyed this event

  • Lisa Singh

    Really sad news, end of an era.

  • john shaw JSPhotography

    What a shame it was a flagship event and will be sorely missed.

    I do hope someone will come in and organise another event If so please USE THE NEC AROUND THE SAME TIME – we have enough event in london and the NEC attracted photographers from all over Uk being central…

  • Tullio Tramontina, CEO of Graphistudio

    This is a very sad day, Focus was a reference point, an important point of contact between photographers and industry, and nothing will be the same now. Graphistudio attended Focus for the first time in 2001 and in that occasion presented the Digital Wedding Book in advance, and this is one of the events that contributed to the diffusion of this product and in part to our success. I sincerely want to thank Mary Walker for her commitment to the photography world. The first feeling about this news is of dismay, but then we must face the reality and cast our minds into the future. I conclude with a celebration to photography, this big love involving everyone everywhere in the world, which will never die, but change thanks to technological revolutions, and which today is more than simply alive. Thanks again Mary Walker.

  • Des Gardner FRPS

    Its a shame really, but I do think that the show no matter how good had run its course! we have to thank Mary and her team of helpers……

  • Andy Leslie

    I’m not at all surprised. This year, as usual I could only make Wednesday. Many stands were devoid of customers and their denizens desperate. Very few vendors. Calumet had *sold out* of the EF 100mm f/2.8L IS – the only thing I was really interested in from them, had the price been right.

    No Adobe. OnOne seminars were justifiably popular.

    The cafe was once again UNBELIEVABLY expensive. I took my own food and drink, saved mucho dollar.

    Picked up some cheap-ish Epson Inks from Premier but really no great discounts, if any.

    Went looking for a Phottix Aion Wireless Timer Remote for my 7D and didn’t find it, so bought it on Amazon when I got home. There’s a lesson there, too.

    Chatted to some students at a University stand. Innovative and interesting, all their work is done on film!

    For the first time in many years I ran into no-one I knew.

    I went looking for reasonably priced lighting rigs and had to laugh in the faces of so many overpriced configs that I began to get a sore throat.

    The Canon stand was huge but contained nothing new. I did have a very interesting chat about large format printers.

    I asked about the 7D II / 70D and got studied blank looks. Started to have a detailed conversation about sensors but chap passed me to a chapess who passed me to a chap who was technically unable to converse on the subject. Gave up.

    Interesting chat about macro photography on one stand with a very nice man who thought that Liverpool was near to South West Wales.

    It’s doubtful I’d have gone back. No interesting announcements that I noticed. Distinct shortages of stuff of interest to me. Mary Walker Exhibitions would have had to work very hard indeed hard to get some more interest into 2014 before I planned on a 300 mile round trip again. After years of attending, this was the worst for many reasons and I know that I wasn’t alone.

  • Darron Hartas

    Congratulations Mary on your brilliant work over the years! We’ll all miss Focus.

  • Michael C.

    Odd decision. With the loss of high street shops an event where potential buyers can actually get a hand on kit they want to compare/test seems more important now than ever.