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A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to attend a conference that in many ways felt like something new: a one day event made by photographers, dedicated to anyone who is passionate about the human side of photography, and not only the technological side.

It took place on the 13th of September, in a conference room located in Shoreditch, London. The venue was nice and there was plenty of places around to eat and have a drink afterwards.

Dan Rubin, a designer, singer, photographer, barbershop harmony aficionado, philosopher, and polymath, as described in one of the many places you can find him online, was the host of BIRDIE and the subject of an interview conducted by Tom Seymour, where he talked about the present and future of photography, like how high quality cameras with instant sharing capabilities are in everyone’s hand nowadays, and how this has affected the way the world is documented.

You could tell by his words that he created this event out of love for photography, and as a way to bring other people like him together.

Here are some of my takeaways from the speakers.

Kevin Meredith - Making the change from amateur to professional

Kevin described how his journey through the world of photography became a successful business, he pointed out that the only difference between a professional and an amateur photographer is whether you get paid or not, and gave us all some advise about how to keep your passion for the craft always up. Insightful and entertaining first talk.

Katja Ogrin - First three, no flash

Katja is a live music photographer, she showed a collection of some of her favourite concert shots along with a story. Each story was also packed with great advise on shooting live gigs and some fun anecdotes.

Naomi Korn - Copyright, photography and the Digital Age

Copyright is something we face pretty much every day of our lives. Even more if we work in a digital and creative environment, but we don’t really know much about it.

Naomi gave us a short (but very concentrated) summary of the things we should be aware regarding copyright. As she explained, we are all copyright holders, users, sharers and publishers and we need to know how it all works, how to protect ourselves and how to deal with other people’s creative work.

Conor MacNeill - Chasing the night sky

Shooting the sky is getting more and more difficult as the world lights up its cities. Finding the dark places to get the most possible stars, the Milky Way and even the Aurora Borealis, require a lot of research, travel, patience, and sometimes discomfort. Conor shared his own experience and work, and helped us understand how to look for the night sky and what to expect when we find it.

Steven Colgan - An alternative history of photography

Steven compiled a collection of interesting stills from the history of photography paired together with a whole set of fun, interesting facts that are probably not very known about these images. Very funny, and very interesting talk.

Agatha A. Nitecka - Film on Film

Agatha takes photos of the sets during film making. This alone makes for a very interesting job, but she also shoots only film. I didn’t get this at first, but as she explained her reasons and workflow, I conclude that it was only logical, and I could see in her eyes, and hear in her words how she wanted to transfer that great passion into the audience, which I think she did. It was truly a beautiful talk.

It was also quite interesting to see how she has to understand and capture the story with all its emotional dose as it was created and visualised by the film makers, and do so by trying to be invisible to the rest of the set.

Chris Wild - Holding a smile ‘til the sun goes down

Chris, like Steven, had a collection of historical photos to show, but instead of fun facts, he talked the things these pictures show that have stayed the same,the things that time has not changed about our world and about ourselves. It was a very interesting journey through our own history.

The most refreshing thing about BIRDIE is that it was all about the photos, their stories and the people behind them, not about the kit used to take them.

Photography has taking most of my interest and free time in the last few years, and I didn’t want to let pass the opportunity to be part of this conference, which all in all was a great experience, inspiring and very helpful. I can’t wait to come back next year for a new round of speakers and stories to learn from. Great job!

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