In this day and age, anyone with a smartphone is deemed a photographer, but to illustrate the creative opportunities its cameras offer, Canon is delivering a hands-on photography experience to help consumers take their shooting skills to the next level. The pop-up, dubbed Canon Portals, takes attendees through six vignettes, or “portals,” designed to educate them on various techniques, from shooting through reflections to distorting perspective. Supplementary workshops and photo walks with Canon instructors are also available for more in-depth lessons. The pop-up hit New York City’s SoHo neighborhood from Nov. 8-18, then on Nov. 29 made its way to Santa Monica, CA, where it will be open through Dec. 16.
Upon arriving at the pop-up, attendees register to use one of Canon’s automatic camera models, including its new mirrorless EOS R, before embarking on their photo-taking journey. They then snap their way through a series of scenes built to sharpen specific shooting skills, with brand ambassadors on hand to answer questions and offer tips. A city scene featuring a puddle, for instance, offers attendees a chance to creatively shoot through reflections while touting Canon’s flip screen-equipped cameras. Over in the pitch-dark Portal of Light, geometric shapes comprised of neon light bars showed attendees how to shoot in low light.
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Moving on to the Portal of Perspective, faux city buildings and a ceiling designed to look like the sky let attendees play around with angles. The setup allows participants to either shoot from down low, or leverage Canon’s Camera Connect app to remotely capture the shot. The app lets users trigger the camera from their phone, making it possible to lay the camera on the floor and shoot directly up into the “sky,” creating a reality-distorting perspective.
In another vignette, attendees experiment with focus, using a fast lens to take portraits featuring props like twinkle lights or flowers in the foreground, and the portrait subject in the background. The resulting image shows the subject in sharp focus, while props in the foreground are blurred. Over in the magic carpet ride-themed portal, participants learn how to make fake scenic backdrops look realistic. And finally, in the Portal of Motion, a pit filled with 30,000 balls gives attendees a chance to learn how to capture moving subjects without motion blur (and, let’s be honest, play in a ball pit).
But the activation doesn’t end there. Canon believes in delivering the full “input to output experience,” so the pop-up includes a station featuring the brand’s photo printers where participants can snag physical copies of their work to take home before returning their loaned camera. Those using the Camera Connect app have access to all of their photos from the experience, which are compiled and saved within the application. As for sharing their work, participants who post photos using #CanonPortals have a chance to win branded swag.
For shutterbugs looking for more in-depth education and hands-on experience, the program additionally features a variety of photo walks and workshops with brand instructors. In Santa Monica, for instance, attendees can register for a Santa Monica Pier Night Walk, or a Street Photography Portraits workshop.
“More people than ever are taking pictures and posting pictures on social media,” says Rob Altman, senior marketing manager at Canon. “Our challenge as a camera company is to get them to realize that when they want to take that next step up and get more attention, more likes, more shares for their photos, to think about different types of real cameras to use… What we see all the time is once they start playing around with different settings and looks, they get inspired and they go out and it adds another dimension to their work.” Agency: Grey, New York City.