It’s taken me almost a week to figure out even what I wanted to say. Last week I headed to Santa Barbara California for a photographers conference called United.
Last year I had to miss the conference, because I was MASSIVELY pregnant with my daughter. I heard many things about United….the endless hugs, how uplifted they felt after, how motivational it was and how encouraged they felt. But a small part of me questioned if they actually learned anything they could apply to their business. Oh boy do you ever.
I learned a huge mix of things about myself, how to best serve my clients, how I can be a change towards a more positive industry, lighting techniques, posing techniques, marketing – in person and on social media, lightroom editing tips that will make my workflow SO MUCH BETTER, and so much more.
But I think why most people, including myself, who have attended United spend so much time focusing on the community part is how mindblowing it is. To walk into a room of almost entirely strangers and by the end of the day to feel like you’re all part of a family. It sounds cheesy, and I have seen many roll their eyes when they hear this, but how quickly they are able to bring together 400 photographers to build each other up is incredible. I love that the focus is on learning from each other not from “celebrity” photographers who don’t even have your best interests at heart. I love how I learned more from talking to other photographers and listening to their stories and what they had to share than I have ever learned from any Creative Live or workshop I have attended. I love that I now have a HUGE network of photographers I call family, that I can now bounce ideas off of, turn to for help and advice, or simply just skype to make this job a little less lonely.
So for anyone questioning if they will “learn” anything at United, anything tangible you can take home with you. The answer is an overwhelming YES. You will learn more about photography, your business and yourself than you ever thought possible.
Part of that learning process for me was having the GREAT honor to speak at United. Twice. I almost threw up. haha seriously.
The first one was on a Mom’s Panel called “Serving around the clock” with two other incredible Mom’s! Sarah Perkins and Carissa Kennedy. We each are at different places in our lives and businesss. Carissa is the wife of Matt Kennedy and has a second shooter and admin role in their business. Sarah is a full time photographer and also a single Mom. Together we talked about how we balance. How we make this chaotic life of a stay at home Mom/entrepreneur and business owner work. The overwhelming response was how amazing it was to connect with other Mom’s and not feel alone. I was moved to tears when a fellow Mom confided in me at the gala that our panel was the highlight of her experience at United. THANK YOU to everyone who came! :)
The second opportunity for me to speak was at the 5 minute fuel. It’s simple. 20 photographers each get 5 minutes to talk on any topic they want. There’s a timer. At 5 minutes your time is up. I literally wanted to throw up. I was shaking and I barely tasted my dinner. (okay that’s partially a lie….the chocolate pyramid for dessert was TO DIE FOR.)
But I did it. I overcame my fears and spoke for just over 5 minutes (oops!) on the negativity that comes from comparing yourself to other photographers. My dear friend Taliah got it on video on her phone so I will do another post on that talk next week with the video! :)
I am so thankful for everyone who put the time into making the conference possible. To the new friends I met. To the people who went out of their way to give me a hug and say hi. To the people who got up to share what they had. To EVERY single person who attended….I am so upset I didn’t get to meet every single last one of you….and I did try!
To those who weren’t able to make it, and are questioning going. GO. GO GO GO! Seriously. I can’t stress enough how much I adored every single minute of it. It felt like Band Camp. But stuffed full of photography. I have fallen in love with this business all over again and I can’t WAIT to get started on this season.
And here’s a small sneak peek of the people I got to photograph. So blessed to have every single last one of them in my life. I feel very humbled to have them in front of my camera!