Photography Conference Tips
Ahhh, Fall – it’s “busy season” for portrait photographers and also time to start planning which photography conferences or workshops to attend when the slow time rolls around. Many major conferences happen in the first months of the new year and offer “early bird” discounts for signing up and getting everything in place now. But which conference to choose? There are so many great speakers and trade shows it can be hard to pick one. Here are a few photography conference tips and advice from this photo mama with over twenty years experience:
To Thine own Self be True
So, here is the great thing about being 40 something – you really know yourself. One thing I know is that I love being around people and can be fairly extroverted in small groups but put me in a room with a thousand other photographers and I suddenly become an introvert. I’m also a small town girl so big cities tend overwhelm me. Even though I know all that I’ve been a pretty regular WPPI attendee. That means putting myself out there in big workshops in a huge hotel in Las Vegas. For days on end. Ugh. I’m not saying I don’t get a lot out of attending WPPI, I always do. It’s an amazing conference, but I always come back exhausted from it all. The last few years I’ve been searching for smaller workshops or local conferences to attend. A place where I can connect with other photographers and learn without being ridiculously out of my comfort zone. Lately, I’m drawn to conferences that operate on a much smaller scale than the big guys, knowing that is going to be a better fit for me all around. I might have a little FOMO (fear of missing out) if I don’t go to WPPI or Imaging USA but potentially enjoying the whole conference experience rather than just enduring it for educational purposes is a huge factor in my decision making process. So my advice? Give some thought to the best fit for your own personality and learning style before signing up.
This is different for me every year. One year I will be all about learning new lighting techniques and the next year I find myself taking mostly marketing classes. Sometimes my main goal is simply to hang out at the trade show seeing the latest gear and products. I do try to create a well rounded schedule for myself but with a focus. If I don’t think about what I want to take away from the conference I can come home feeling like I have all these great new ideas but not a clue what to do with it all! I recommend that you land on at least one goal. It helps to have that in mind when divvying up your time at the conference.
Don’t try to do it all, my dear. The temptation is strong to hit every meetup, every early morning photo walk and every late night party. Again, FOMO – but take my advice and pace yourself. You really can’t do it all well, remember to take some time to enjoy yourself and relax. I remember flying to a conference one year with a group of local photographers and everyone was excited and eager to go – fresh faces all around. I saw some of those photographers a few days into the conference and they all looked incredibly exhausted. I knew from social media posts that they were going to EVERYTHING. It takes time to learn that you will still get plenty from the conference even if you spend one night in your room resting and binge watching “Friends” episodes.
I hope these Photography Conference Tips help you as you think about the next event you want to attend! I have always come away with at least one valuable nugget from every conference and I’ve never regretted investing in myself and my business in that way. Check out the Eventbrite website to attend or plan an event near you.
What things work really well for Denver Seniors? I have a”Top 5 Looks for Senior Pictures” list that can help you decide on a look and location – the first step in every successful senior session.
Top 5 Looks for Senior Pictures
1. NEAR A RIVER OR LAKE
Get yourself down to one of Colorado’s rivers or lakes! Water has all kinds of amazing photographic qualities. Depending on the body of water,time of day and lighting water can be reflective or shimmery, smooth or in motion, subtle or dynamic. As an added bonus, being near water relaxes most people so if you are a bit nervous in front of the camera this can only help!
2. IN OPEN FIELDS OF FLOWERS OR TALL GRASSES
Wide open natural fields give an easygoing feel to your portraits. Lots of ways to rock this out!
3. URBAN AREAS
Nature not really your thing? No problem. Heading into the city for your senior portraits is great, too! We practically have a graffiti MUSEUM in Denver’s RiNo district that makes for very cool, distinct senior picture backgrounds. I know a little spot in Arvada, too! There are also clean, modern looks to be found near Union Station, the Millennium Bridge and other downtown Denver areas.
4. PROFESSIONAL PORTRAIT STUDIO
Here the look is clean and stylized! The wind isn’t going to blow your hair out of place and there is no tromping though fields. At my studio we can customize our backgrounds with the use of colored gels to compliment your outfit or stick to neutrals for a more traditional look!
5. ANYWHERE WITH YOUR FAVORITE THING
I’m not a huge prop person but if there is something you do with passion that helps define you I am ALL for making an artistic senior portrait with it! Bring your sports gear, animals, musical instruments, even your best friend – these things add interest and literally provide something to hold onto, because we all know being in front of the camera can be intimidating!