Bischof&Broel photographic memory of NürnbergMesse
Experiencing fairs

The photographic memory of NürnbergMesse

Exhibition photography for five decades: The fifty-year history of NürnbergMesse has been accompanied by the Nuremberg photo studio Bischof & Broel from the very beginning to the present day. Owner and photographer Manfred Gillert and his team have built up a photographic memory of the exhibition company. 

The photo studio was founded by the eponymous photographers Carl Bischof and Theo Broel on Bayreuther Straße in Nuremberg back in 1910 - more than six decades before NürnbergMesse. The great spirit of optimism prevailed in the 1950s when, in addition to portraits, industrial, advertising and trade fair photography became important pillars of the studio. With the state licence for aerial photography, Broel's grandson Eugen Christmeier established a further speciality in 1956. To this day, Bischof & Broel documents the development of cities, villages, landscapes - and also NürnbergMesse - from above. An archive of 250,000 images of inestimable value.

Trade fair from all angles

Even on the ground, trade fair photography was conceived from the very beginning in different perspectives: reportages for organisers, trade fair events for exhibitors and stand architecture shots for stand builders. Bischof & Broel's involvement in trade fairs began in the early 1950s at Berliner Platz for the ‘Nürnberger Bund’, the toy fair and the AFAG consumer fair, which was still called ‘Einkaufstasche’ at the time (today ‘Consumenta’). There's no question that the tried-and-tested exhibition photographers were a natural choice when NürnbergMesse was founded in 1974, now as a service partner with its own office at the new exhibition centre in Nuremberg-Langwasser.

Manfred Gillert in a red jacket in action

Manfred Gillert, in a red jacket, on the road as a trade fair photographer at the Spielwarenmesse in 1994. 

Manfred Gillert, who started as a young apprentice at Bischof & Broel in 1969 and passed his master craftsman's examination in 1983, gives an insight into how trade fair photography worked back then: ‘For stand shots, power connections had to be found and cables laid, each camera team consisted of four people’.  Films were then developed in the laboratory, enlarged and delivered - all very time-consuming. In the age of digital photography, where images are uploaded and sent directly after being taken, this is almost unimaginable.

50 years in anecdotes

Even though the pace has quickened in trade fair photography, Bischof & Broel takes the time to capture the special moments at the fair: ‘We take photos before the fair starts and until after it closes, so we are often on the site for twelve to 16 hours. The photographers are often the last to leave the exhibition centre. Manfred Gillert remembers a shoot late in the evening. When the last shots were taken, the exhibition centre was already cordoned off. After a long search, the team still managed to get out via supply shafts.

Bischof & Broel in action on the lifting platform

The photographers at Bischof & Broel spare no effort to get the perfect overview. 

50 years of the trade fair offer plenty of room for one or two anecdotes. In 1984, the then Studio owner Eugen Christmeier made sure that the lights went out - just as the Bavarian Minister President Franz Josef Strauß was giving his opening speech at the IWA in the Brussels Hall. Christmeier had been leaning against the wall and had his back to the light switch. Luckily, at least the podium remained lit. At another event, all the fuses blew when three teams of photographers simultaneously overloaded the power grid in one hall with their lamps - suddenly all the exhibitor stands were without power. Another time, empty batteries on a lifting platform proved fatal for the photographers themselves. And so they had to hold out high up just under the hall roof for overview shots for longer than they would have liked.

Solution-orientated partnership

In addition to anecdotes from 50 years ago, Manfred Gillert still remembers the challenging changes. On the one hand, a trade fair that was constantly growing at the Langwasser site, but also worldwide. On the other hand, the technical demands of his industry: shortly after the turn of the millennium - when he took over the company after the death of Eugen Christmeier - came the great transition from analogue to digital photography and the associated major investments: in new camera equipment, computers and seminar attendance.

Bischof & Broel: Portrait of Manfred Gillert

Manfred Gillert has been photographing a wide variety of events for NürnbergMesse for several decades. In 50 years, a few anecdotes have stuck in his memory. 

Only one thing has not changed to this day and that is the good co-operation with NürnbergMesse. The recipe for success? For Gillert, it is ‘mutual respect and that solutions are always found when problems arise’.

Redaktionsmitglied Reinhold Gebhart
Reinhold Gebhart
Online Editorial // Editor for Vincentz Network
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