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KBB Birmingham

KBB Birmingham is the the UK’s biennial trade show focussed solely on Kitchens, Bedrooms and Bathrooms. Many other design shows are available, but in the corner of the home building/improvement industry that I usually inhabit, this is the biggie.

Being biennial, and occurring in March, KBB is one of the few regular events which has not been interrupted by Covid. Last time was March 2020, with just days to go before the first lockdown. The industry has been through a crazy time since, with difficulties actually doing our work, and then both glut (of orders) and famine (of material/products). Many companies have taken a big hit, with fewer new products coming to market and many being discontinued. As a result, a proportion of regulars chose not to exhibit this year. That didn’t seem to dampen spirits, though. Actual turnout for the show was good, with a  great buzz in the (wider) aisles and (larger) stands.

My work at KBB Birmingham 2022 was two-pronged. With my Affordable Granite hat on I was a general visitor to the show – looking at innovations and trends in kitchen design, and getting photographs along the way for my AG work. But I was also working for the Worktop Fabricators Federation – taking photos of their new line-up of directors and marking the celebration of two years of the Federation’s existence.

KBB Birmingham: How to photograph a trade show

I needed to take photos of genuine quality, for web use but also some, potentially, for printing. Given the relative low light of any indoor event, and the range of photo styles I might need to deliver, the system to take was a no-brainer. It was a day for the Nikons. As with any “one-off” event, I always take two bodies so as to be covered in case of any breakdown or issue.

Because I was working for the WFF, who were active partners in the show, I was in a privileged position – I had somewhere secure to lock stuff away. This makes an enormous difference for a photographer. I knew that I needed to take some portraits of the Directors, so needed a longish lens for that. I wasn’t sure where was going to be suitable for their shots either, so wanted some flexibility. Normally, that means taking the 70-200mm f2.8, but I wouldn’t want to lug that all around the show.

So, I got the portraits done with the 70-200 and then locked it and other gear away. The portraits were shot using available light, and against a dark quartz slab display as a backdrop. I delivered various different sizes/framings.

Nikon D5 70-200 @ 200mm f3.2 1/200 ISO900

Nikon D5 70-200mm @155mm f2.8 1/160 ISO2500

So what did I take with me round the show? The Nikon D5 with 24-70mm f2.8 is just about the perfect all-rounder. It’s not a small or unobtrusive combination, but the big aperture with high ISO possibility allows you to take photos in just about any light. The focal length range runs from wide- (or group-) portrait through to a fairly wide angle. Close focus point isn’t bad – it’s not a macro lens, but at just under 40cm it can get close enough.

I also popped a flash on the beast in case I needed any fill-in around the show.

Where do you carry a second lens on this kind of walkabout? On a second body, of course! I put the Samyang 10mm f3.5 on the D800 and I was ready.

I’ll come back to the lens – but a word about the D800. I have two of them. This is now a relatively old design, no longer serviced by Nikon, and people may wonder why I haven’t upgraded. The answer is simply that I haven’t seen the need. The bodies work well, and with four working full-frame bodies I am covered for all eventualities. I just keep cash ready to buy a D850 or another D5/6 at short notice, and I don’t worry. I am no camera snob, and simply changing bodies for the sake of it is pointless.

Why put the lenses on the bodies that way round?

  1. Because high ISO performance is better on the D5, and longer focal lengths will need higher shutter speeds.
  2. Because the Samyang 10mm is incredibly sharp, but for geometrical perfection with such a wide-angle lens and no tripod I will need to manipulate the images a bit. The 36 megapixels of the D800 give me maximum flexibility for pulling and squeezing the perspective.

Why the extreme wide angle? Because busy trade shows have crowded stands. Even though the smaller-than-usual KBB 2022 had big stands, a lot of people were about. How do you step back when there is no room to step back, or when that will only put half a dozen people between you and your subject? You use a wide angle lens. The Samyang 10mm f3.5 Full Frame Rectilinear has been a favourite lens ever since it was launched – bought mine as soon as I could, and no regrets.

I chose the 10mm rectilinear over my much-loved 12mm fisheye because kitchens really and truly are square. If I’d gone for the even wider fisheye, I could have given myself a few hours work straightening out all the curves (de-fishing), but why do that when you have this 10mm marvel?

In this shot, on the Rotpunkt stand, a long island was quite tight up to the units. I had to shoot over it and crop, but the lens (and all those pixels!) did a great job of giving me a pretty good elevation shot of the kitchen installation. The green object in the foreground is a plastic leek on the island – I didn’t have the cheek to move it!

D800 Samyang  10mm f4 1/50 ISO100

Peter Brook, of S-Box, the creators of the excellent pop-up electrical sockets for solid worktops and islands. The light on Peter’s face was really dull compared to the wall behind, so my flash came in handy on the D5 to just lift the foreground a bit.

Nikon D5 24-70 @55mm f6.3 1/60 ISO560

Same lens and a close-up on one of Peter’s products – I understand that this is the first USB socket available that will accept your plug either way up! The S-Box USB’s also boast higher power ratings – anyone who has waited for a recent phone to trickle charge over many hours will value the extra amps.  I used the flash again, bouncing off its own reflector, to boost the available light a bit.

Nikon D5 24-70 @70mm f6.3 1/80 ISO360

Of course, the 24-70 really is at home with impromptu group shots. No flash here, and possibly the depth of field is a bit too shallow at f5.6, but it does the job. From left, Andy Phillips, my boss at Affordable Granite, with Dennis Cook (South East Cimstone rep), Levent Akgerman (CEO) and Ziya Ozdemir (Cimstone UK Manager).

Nikon D5 24-70 @ 60mm f5.6 1/60 ISO560

I always feel that it is the people who make the coffee who are the unsung heroes of trade shows! The Caesarstone stand was alive and busy the whole time I was at the show, and one reason for that was the flow of really good coffee, served with a smile by Mark and Tilly from Cafe Allez! of Belvoir Castle, Grantham. Jon and his team at Caesarstone knew what they were doing when they called them in.

Nikon D5 24-70 @ 70mm f5 1/80 ISO900

The Samyang comes into its own with architectural images. Some stands lend themselves especially to the wide view. The Elica stand, with its blocky style and displays of hobs and hoods looked great once it had cleared a bit at the end of the day.

Nikon D800 Samyang 10mm f5.6 1/40 ISO400

Now you see it…

A quartz island on the QuartzForms stand has a sliding sink cover in matching stone. This kind of shot is only possible with a really wide angle lens – I got on a stool and shot a good few, then corrected the shape in post.

This kind of shot is only possible with an extreme wide-angle lens, and the Samyang makes it relatively easy.

Now you don’t…

Holding the camera dead level and vertical is not easy, especially at the end of one extended arm. Glad of post-processing, and it gives me the chance to cut out my own feet, too.

Both shots D800 Samyang 10mm f4 1/40 ISO160

This approach to editing wouldn’t suit every shot, but I like it for geometrical or architectural wide angles. Big on mid-range contrast.


Nikon D800 Samyang 10mm f5.6 1/40 ISO400

For more about KBB Birmingham 2022 from a kitchen, rather than a camera, perspective, please see my blogs about the show for Affordable Granite –  the first published last Friday and the second still to come.


If you need images of a trade show, or of your own stand, exhibit and possibly visitors at a trade show, then contact me. I offer good quality pictures at a reasonable rate, and am polite and well-behaved on your stand too! 😉

To contact me to enquire about my photography use my Contact Form or just text (07983 787889) or email me at

Photos © copyright Andrew King Photography

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