I just came back from Imaging USA – the big conference that Professional Photographers of America puts on every year. It was awesome to meet some of my heroes – Jose Villa, Becker, the McLellans, the Bebbs. . .and to hang out with friends Kevant and Lori.
It’s fun going to these events now because I’m fairly happy with my identity and style as a photographer. I no longer feel overwhelmed or unworthy like I did when I was just starting out in the business. I did learn a few things, pick up some ideas, but most of all I got to talk with amazing people face to face and say thank you to the photographers who taught me so much through their websites and blogs. . .and to say thanks to the awesome vendors who make it possible for me to be in business!!
My advice for anyone attending these shows. . .hang around after class! Basically we’re sitting in a two-hour lecture with 2,000 people. Then the lecture ends, 1990 of the people leave, and I’m able to talk with the photographer in a small group of ten-fifteen people. That’s when the actual learning and connections happen.
My favorite take-away moment from the conference. I stayed after class to speak with Jose Villa. This is his first conference, and apparently he didn’t get the memo that he is supposed to sell DVD’s and other “junk” to profit from his lecture. Instead, we’re standing around and a newly-engaged couple asks him to photograph their wedding! That’s way more impressive to me than a great photographer selling a DVD on how to be a great photographer.