It’s time to introduce the fourth in our series of Community Interviews and open the doors for your contributed questions.
The subject of interview number four should be familiar to some if not all of you out there; it’s Billingham, producer of fine, handmade camera bags since 1978 – more on that a bit further below.
We’re really excited to have Billingham on board with this, as well as a couple of other upcoming bits and pieces. Whilst we can’t speak about those in any more detail for the moment, you’ll see news trickling out over the coming week or so. In fact, the first tid-bit will be out tomorrow morning EDT.
Billingham have been hand making bags since 1973. The business is family owned and is currently run by Harry Billingham, son of founder Martin (whose signature can be found stitched to the inside of every Billingham bag).
Funnily enough, Billingham started off making fishing bags, not camera bags. It wasn’t until it was noticed that the bags were becoming popular for use by American photographers that the company switched tack and the Billingham bag we know today was born.
Billingham are probably most famous for their shoulder bags, although they also make photographer vests and racksacks. It should also be noted that their service is known to be legendary. Their bags, whilst not everlasting are incredibly rugged and as an owner of a small piece myself, I can say that they take a beating and look better with age. Something that’ can;t be said about yours truly, or the objects carried within them!
This is one of Billingham’s first forays into connecting with the film photography community, so play nice, give them a warm welcome and start firing away with your questions in the comments below.
If you’d like to do a little bit of research into the company before putting together your questions, head on over to billingham.co.uk.
As per our introductory article, this interview will be presented in three parts:
Part one: Call for submissions (this article)
The submission window is open for two weeks from today until midnight on Friday 16th December 2016.
This is your chance to have a think about what kind of questions you want to ask to Billingham and submit them in the comments section below.
The comments section of this article is the only place we will be accepting questions.
Please keep your questions concise and limit yourself to a single question per comment. You may post a maximum of two comments.
Only new, parent comments will be considered for entry, so please don’t add yours as a reply if you want a chance to have yours featured.
When doors close at midnight on Friday 16th December 2016, we’ll be locking the thread and our panel will be tasked with whittling down your submissions to roughly ten questions (more on the panel in a bit).
Part two: Handover
The submission window will close on midnight on Friday 16th December 2016, at which point the panel will come together to deliberate. A shortlist of questions and commentary will then be passed over to Billingham for review.
We’ll be working with Billingham to put together a finished article as soon as possible after the submission window closes.
Part three: Release
We’re aiming for a pre-Christmas 2016 release, so time is short. If for any reason we can’t make this deadline, we’ll be aiming for a release in mid-January 2017! There may be other things to announce here but we’ll leave that until closer to the time.
Interview structure and panel
The panel shortlist will consist of ~10 questions submitted by you, the film photography community, two questions from yours truly and one each from the panel. It’s the job of the panel to help make the final decision as to which of the questions submitted will make the cut for the final piece, as well as to discuss, review and revise the final interview before it’s released.
Why go to the trouble of selecting a panel?
We want to alleviate any concerns regarding impartiality and bias and make the process transparent. Anyone can be a panel member for future Community Interviews, all you need do is ask.
Speaking of the panel, here they are:
Cody Priebe @codypriebe
Martin W Smith @westen30
The questions below form only the beginning of this Community Interview and can be added to, or expanded upon with your own. Please be careful not to repeat, or post similar questions to the ones below, as you entry will likely be discarded. Here’s what we have to start things off:
Cody: The list of family run businesses that maintain excellence through the years is a short one. Billingham seems to take great care in maintaining high quality bags, maintaining the family legacy and the greater Billingham family – which includes the craftsman that make the bags.
Can you speak on the decision to expand your manufacturing in England rather than overseas, in a presumably less costly operation?
Martin: With the rise in popularity of smart phone cameras and smaller more pocketable system cameras, how has this affected your business?
Do you think this trend will continue and do you have plans to capitalise on it?
EMULSIVE: Your core products seem to have changed very little over the years, and it appears that the company is more interested in making small refinements, as opposed to huge changes to the products it creates. How do you see the entry of newer, smaller players into your market?
Really, the question I’m asking is what makes a Billingham bag, a Billingham bag?
EMULSIVE: Do you still see yourselves as a manufacturer of camera bags exclusively, or can we expect to see other products with the Billingham name?
Many “single product” vendors eventually diversify their product lines almost to the point of excess. Can you see Billingham doing the same in the future (without the excess bit!)?
Next steps and guidelines
Doors for your submissions are open until midnight on Friday 16th December 2016 and the only way to submit your question is in the comments section below.
1) Questions are not subject to moderation at this stage but you are asked to keep them civil and in the spirit of the community.
2) Any question deemed to be hostile or not encouraging reasonable discussion will be removed and the poster will be banned from future participation. In short, we’re all here for the same thing, so don’t be a troll.
3) Please prepend your submission with, “Question:”.
4) Submitted questions may be edited down into smaller chunks or merged with others if we feel there’s a need to do so. This being said, all questions will be submitted in their form for Billingham to answer.
5) If two or more very similar questions are posted, we will endeavour to credit the first person who posted it.
6) If we feel that two or more questions can be combined without losing their original value, we’ll credit each submitter as required.
These guidelines are by no means exhaustive but you can be assured that we’ll keep everything as transparent as possible during the process — see the EMULSIVE x Lomography and EMULSIVE x ILFORD interviews for an example of how this finished interview might appear.
Over to you, let’s see what you’ve got.