Industry News

How COVID-19 Has Affected Some Major Photo Expos

March 18, 2020

By Jacqueline Tobin

Illustration by Sharon Ber for Rangefinder/WPPI

The COVID-19 coronavirus has had a major effect on the trade show and exhibition space in addition to having the supply chains for photo and video equipment. Since growing in global seriousness over the past month and a half, COVID-19 has caused the cancellation or postponement of nearly every major and minor photo and video shows around the world, including the following: 


NAB Show 2020

On March 11, the President and CEO of the NAB Show Gordon Smith announced that the extremely popular and highly-anticipated video-focused trade show would be canceled. Originally scheduled to take place April 18-22, the NAB show typically draws around 100,000 people to Las Vegas in what is the premier broadcasting and video production show in the world. 

Said Smith on NAB’s website (excerpted): “We are still weighing the best potential path forward, and we ask you for your patience as we do so. We are committed to exploring all possible alternatives so that we can provide a productive setting where the industry can engage with the latest technology, hear from industry thought leaders and make the game-changing connections that drive our industry forward.”

Though canceled thus far, Smith does make mention of the possibility of attempting to bring the show back later this year, though his language is vague around the topic. It is likely that attempting to move the show to another time this year has considerable complications—from the show floor space to convincing exhibitors to try again in 2020 despite their supply chains being significantly disrupted—to promise anything at the time of the announcement. Still, it’s clear the NAB organization is hopeful. 

MARCH 20 UPDATE: NAB has officially confirmed that the 2020 event will not be rescheduled to later this year, but instead laid out a two-pronged approach that includes a digital plan as well as an enhanced New York show scheduled for later this year. Read more about their decision here.


The Photography Show and The Video Show

The Photography Show is the United Kingdom’s largest trade show, typically set to take place in Birmingham in March. This year, the show canceled on March 10, just four days before they were set to begin. Clearly the situation escalated quickly, as the Photography Show team was still posting hype content on social media a week prior to the event. 

But as quickly as they had to cancel the original dates of the show, the Photography Show team just moved the popular exposition to September, with firm dates already in place—September 19-22, 2020, at the NEC in Birmingham, UK. According to a statement on their website, all existing tickets will be transferred to the new dates.

Shutterfest 2020

Shutterfest is a Midwest photography-enthusiast gathering created by wedding and portrait photographer Sal Cincotta. Set to be held on April 14-16 this year in St. Louis, as late as March 12 Cincotta insisted that the show would go on. 

Then the WHO, the foremost reliable source on infection diseases, classified the COVID-19 situation as a global pandemic

On March 14, Shutterfest was forced to postpone, as the city of St. Louis was banning all gatherings of 1,000 people or more.

In just the last few days, Shutterfest organizers have now secured new dates and have posted that the show will take place June 30-July 1, 2020, with Shutterfest Extreme taking place for one full day on July 2.

Photokina 2020

Photokina 2020 is the first in the show’s new annual format, and the first time the show would be hosted in the spring. For decades Photokina had been a biannual affair, taking place in the fall and playing host to the largest gathering of professionals in the imaging space. In recent years, however, the show had shrunk considerably. In an effort to stay relevant, Photokina expanded its coverage beyond photography and changed its format to an annual event. This spring would be the first show under that new format. 

At the time of this writing, Photokina had been transitioning responsibility over whether or not to cancel their show to Koelnmesse, the international trade fair and exhibition center in Cologne, Germany, where Photokina is held. 

But an email has been distributed to exhibitors on March 18, Photokina finally decided that they would not be able to continue in 2020.

“This decision is supported by the crisis management team of the City of Cologne, which also recommended in its meeting on [March 18, 2020] to cancel the trade fairs during this period of time,” reads the email. “This also happens against the background of the agreement reached on [March 16, 2020] between the German federal government and the governments of the German states […] explicitly including the general closure of trade fairs and exhibitions.”

It is expected that this news will be visible on the Photokina website shortly.

What’s more, the email stated that the next Photokina would not take place until May 2022: “The 2022 orientation gives us enough time to design the next photokina according to the needs of the market, our exhibitors and visitors. All paid tickets will be refunded […] in the coming weeks.”

As mentioned, the 2020 spring Photokina was to be the first in their annual format, but this pandemic has clearly had a major impact on how the event will be run going forward.



PHOTOPLUS is still scheduled to take place this year from October 22-24 at the Javits Center in New York City. Given that the show is so late in the year, it is likely that no news regarding any effect of the COVID-19 virus on it will become clear until we make it through the summer. 

For now, expect the largest annual photography event in the United States to go ahead as planned. You can learn more about the show here.