Soooo… last November I decided to invest in myself and went to an absolutely amazing photography conference. Yeah… I know… It’s May… and I’m just now blogging about it lol. After the conference though was Thanksgiving… then Christmas… then adjusting to being a part-time Stitch Fix stylist and working from home and spending time with the fam. So, here we are. Just now blogging my first photography conference experience lol. Greg and I were gone for less than a week but it was so jam packed with a ton of awesomeness and learning. I wanted to do a recap highlighting what I learned from the whole trip.
Then we went to Horseshoe Bend because duh, it’s breathtaking. In case you are wondering, it is like 15 minutes from Antelope Canyon! Amazing!
After an incredible start to our trip we headed to Scottsdale for the conference for four days of jam packed information and an inspiring community.
2. Community Over Competition. When we arrived at the conference the first thing our greeters did was give us a big hug! Talk about supportive! The United conference is very big on hugs. So much so that they have an award for best hugger at the gala dinner. Being a creative can be really tough on the soul. I am my own worst critic whenever I create anything. I’m known for starting a project, loving it, hating it, working harder on perfecting it, loving it again, and then telling myself all the ways I can improve my work for the next project. This is all before a single person sees anything lol. Being a business owner in the creative community is extra difficult to deal with when you feel isolated in your work. Add the feeling of competition with all the other creatives in your field and it takes a major toll on your mental health… and I’m completely speaking from experience. I danced competitively for years and I always enjoyed dancing with a team rather than having a solo. I have always loved being a part of a community that supports the idea ‘When you win, we all win’. There are so many wedding photographers out there trying to turn their passion into a living. It seems impossible sometimes to think you can stand out in the crowd. But, from this conference I have learned that no one is you and that is your super power. That is how you stand out in a market that seems super saturated. Also, you are only one person. You cannot take all the photos yourself. You cannot be in all the places at once. There are plenty of fish in the sea and there is room for everyone to grow. “A rising tide lifts all boats” – JFK. If we all support one another then we all win.
3. Always Be Learning. This was actually the deciding factor for me when choosing a conference to attend. I think my head is still spinning from the amount of information I learned about not only business but specifically photography. I love how there are hands on styled shoots that you get to practice everything you learned and leave with incredible photos for your portfolio. I loved the breakout sessions where you learned about specific parts of your business and photography, but the styled shoots were probably what sold me on going. I learned how to pull raw emotion from people during a shoot. I learned how to make the most of your time when you only have minutes to get the shot. I learned how to create images with your specific style and brand in natural light. Also, I learned to watch where you are stepping because in Arizona you will be stuck by a cactus if you aren’t watching where you are going lol. Here are just a few of my favorites from the styled shoots I attended:
4. Self Care. This was probably the main message from the entire conference and it was so important to hear. Again, being a creative is not for the light hearted. It can crush your soul if you aren’t careful. You may love creating, but burnout is super real. I had been feeling the effects of burnout from my design career for years. I kept ignoring the signs because the thought of not designing was terrifying to me. But, divine intervention definitely pushed me to make the decision to take a break. Most of the keynote speakers talked about taking care of yourself first. Remember your why. Get organized and understand your limits because it doesn’t matter how much you love what you do it will become a chore if there is all work and no play. There has to be balance and another reason I wanted to go last year was because my friend Allison was teaching yoga for the first time at the conference and emphasized the importance of self care. This was a major take-a-way for me. As a Mom, I naturally put my family first and put my daughter’s needs before mine. But, that isn’t healthy and it doesn’t make me a better Mother. Because, you can’t poor from an empty cup. So, once I got back from the conference I made it a priority to do what is right for me and my health first. I am still working on adding it in daily, but even if it is just a 5 minute meditation it helps clear my mind and tackle anything that comes my way. I have started doing short flows in the morning and my daughter actually does them with me which means no need for childcare! lol. Also, my same friend is going back to United this year and if you are going I highly recommend participating in her morning yoga session! You can follow her on Instagram at @allisonewingphotography or on Facebook at Allison Ewing Photography.
5. Invest in yourself. This was definitely not a vacation but it was an incredible experience. I’m still pretty new to the photography business world but I’m so so happy we went to this conference. It was literally life changing for me as it gave me strength to do what makes me happy. Whether you are eyeballing a conference to attend for your career or are trying to decide to spend the money to improve your life. It is worth it. I am 100% a believer that if you aren’t happy then you and you alone have the power to change it. Yes, I am a believer of God and yes I believe he has a plan for everyone but I also believe he cannot make our decisions for us. He can give us all kinds of signs and nudges (sometimes pushes) into the correct direction, but at the end of the day I have to be the one to decide what path I will take. If you know in your heart this will be good for you, this will be money worth spent. If this will put you on the path to happiness then do it. Everyone deserves to be happy. I still struggle daily with anxiety and emotions, but I have found a new community of friends and feel I have so much support that I can achieve all my goals. Figure out what makes you happy. Then, find your tribe for support. Then, put in the time and money and invest in yourself. You are so worth it. You won’t regret it.
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