Special Report: photokina
The 2004 Exhibitions

Photokina is one of the photographic industry's largest and most exciting trade shows and features the very latest developments in photographic and imaging technologies from around the globe. During the course of the show, which lasts about a week, the halls of the convention center become a beehive of activity with business people buzzing around the corporate booths for a "sneak-peak," or a "look-see," at the newest and jazziest products and equipment on display. While the primary goal is to promote new products, photokina has always been more than just a "pumped-up" trade show. We like to call it "the trade show with a soul," because of the extensive and varied photographic exhibitions presented here during this time.

The regard and reverence for the photographic image could be seen everywhere, both in the creative displays presented in the corporate booths to help sell their wares, as well as in the expansive gallery spaces throughout the convention center. This year, several very powerful and important photographic exhibitions were on view.

"Visual Gallery at photokina 2004" was perhaps the largest gallery on site, with an exhibition space measuring 4000 square meters. The show included an extensive series of impressive photographs by emerging photographers as well as work from more seasoned and well-known professionals from around the world.

This exhibition was a stunning representation of the scope of work being done today, and included photographs by Anton Corbijn, Gunter Derleth, Elliott Erwitt, Alexandra Boulat, Lauren Greenfield, James Nachtwey, Walter Schels, Kris Scholz, Jonathan Torgovnik, and Alberto Venzago, among others.

There were many other significant exhibitions on view throughout the halls of photokina, including: "The Seventh Prize for Young Photojournalists" exhibition sponsored by "Das Bild Forum," a German organization; "Images Against War," a stirring collection of images by over 250 photographers from around the world, presented by Galerie Lichtblick, an active photography gallery in Cologne; and the "UNICEF Photos of the Year: 2002 and 2003 at photokina Exhibition," an extraordinarily moving exhibition of photographs showing the lives, times, hardships, and tragedies endured by children from various cultures around the world.

Among the exhibited group of international photographers honored at the UNICEF exhibit over the last two years were Jan Grarup of Denmark, who received first prize in 2002, for an image from his photo series entitled, "Forgotten Victims of an Unknown War, Sierra Leone," a photo project about children of Liberia, fleeing from the civil war; and Don Bartletti of the US, who received first prize in 2003, for an image from his photo series entitled, "The Abandoned Children," portraying the longing of children from Latin America, and their desperate search for their parents. This is the second "UNICEF Photos of the Year" presented during photokina, and will continue to be an important part of the photography exhibitions here for years to come, which is presented by UNICEF-Germany and GEO magazine, and supported by Citibank.

In all, the displays of photographs at photokina are what rightly make it the "world's fair of imaging," where photographs, and the photographers who make them, are given ample space and due honor.