So last month I went to the showit UNITED conference in Arizona. When I signed up, I thought it would a convenient conference to attend because I could also see family and friends, and shoot some clients as well. Plus, I had never been to any conferences and this one seemed like a good value based on price and who was speaking. I signed up for practical reasons. Little did I know, what was going to happen.
Guys, I don’t know if you know this but I introvert hard. I am pretty shy, I just have learned that I can/need to put up a facade of being much more outgoing if I want to make friends. It actually is a lot of work for me, and I’m usually feeling drained and anxious. I didn’t really know anyone too well that was going to be at the conference and I was SO worried about ending up as the girl sitting by herself for 3 days. But that isn’t what happened.
My conference experience started by picking up my photog friend Alicia (who I had actually only met once in person) from the airport. While I was doing that, I found out someone I didn’t know needed a ride as well so I told her she could ride with us. I was nervous! Not in a what if she’s a serial murderer and carjacks me way, but a what if it’s an incredibly awkward car ride way. Long story short, it wasn’t. She was awesome, love her and we are friends now. Also, I discovered Alicia and I basically have the same brain so the conference hasn’t even started yet and I have TWO new friends. This is how this conference is. By the end of the first night at the resort – haven’t even stepped foot in a class or talk mind you – I had FIVE new friends. Jackpot guys. Everyone was warm, and welcoming and like a less intense version of Ari Gold on Entourage, actually nothing like Ari, except for when he is saying let’s hug it out bitch. I made friends every day, which if nothing else would have made the conference worth it.
But let me tell you, the speakers? Oh goodness. #allthefeels #allthetears #getittogetherwoman is basically how that went. You come to conferences like this to listen to speakers who are competent and successful photographers. Every speaker I listened to was awesome. It was amazing to listen to and be in a room full of people who felt like I felt. Who understand the creative struggle, the creative process, and everything in between. You learn that even the rockstars and celebrities of the industry (yep we have those for my non photographer friends reading) are in fact just awesome people who once walked in your same shoes. I left the conference feeling sad that it was over because it was such a good experience. I felt empowered as a business owner, enlightened as a creative, and good enough as an artist. I feel like I gained new relationships and insight, and that I have more new ideas and can refine what I’m already doing. Basically, I’m pretty sure I’ll be attending next year.
THEN, I got to go to a styled shoot with one of my favorite photographers. Cherry on top of the gallon size ice cream treat that had been the past 2 and a half days. Okay maybe sprinkles or nuts because I don’t like those maraschino cherries. If you don’t know who Montana Dennis is you need to go to his website now. Go now! His work is so creative, and unique and that’s something I love in anyone’s style and something I strive for my own brand to be. I didn’t care if I got one great image from the session, the learning experience was what was most important to me. I can tell you that it was totally worth it too, to get a glimpse of how someone I look up to, how they see the world was fantastic. Not so I can copy everything he does, but so I can use some of the techniques and apply them to my own style. Plus he was so cool, and nice. I didn’t exactly play it cool, haha of course I was awkward and had to tell him how much I love him (in a strictly platonic way 😉 )
Here are some of the images from the styled shoot. I didn’t shoot at all during the conference because I wanted to be somewhat unplugged and just soak everything up. Mission accomplished, and maybe I will see some of you guys next year there and we can be friends!
And one of me taken by my new pal Moriah right before our gala when we all got fancied up:
Here are some links to some other great photographers and friends of mine from the conference:
Katy Davis – based in Indiana | Alicia Sturdy – based in Wisconsin
Moriah Riona – based in Colorado | Tina Elizabeth – based in New Jersey
Shanna Rene – based in California | Ali Hormann – based in Washington
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