Lessons from a Portrait Conference!

Inspiration, Update, Fun Info

It felt like a photographer's playground

September found me fulfilling one of my business goals: attending a photography conference! Not just any conference, but one designed with portrait photographers in focus. The world of photography is so vast, it's hard to pick just one genre to explore and build a business around. Portrait photography is the foundation of my business, and so this conference was perfect for me. It's called The Portrait Masters Conference. It was hosted over 4 days in Phoenix, Arizona.

I went not really sure what I'd experience, but I was open to explore and play! It felt a lot like a playground in a way. You see, like most conferences there was a set agenda and speakers and vendors. But what made it really stand out was that between the vendors in the main event space, there were photo booths designed by other expert photographers. These included backdrops, lighting equipment and even professional models. It gave us photographers a chance to play with different styles in an orderly fashion. You see, we had 3 minutes for our turn in each booth. I was skeptical this would be enough time to work.

And, I was wrong. With everything set up for us, including a sign with camera settings so we could be ready to go, it was possible to play with different options in just a few minutes. All of these photo booth images below were taken in 3 minutes; exception being the rain photo-booth. That was most unique in that it was hosted indoors and took up a large footprint of space to created. It was mesmerizing to see each artist move their bodies in the rain. And, it was impressive to see this brand of lighting tolerate all the water! These examples below are not all that I enjoyed photographing, but all that are ready to share with you here. I photographed more portraits in those few days than I usually do in an entire month. So much yet still to process.

Lessons learned

While at times I felt somewhat overwhelmed by all of the information and interactions of this conference, I learned some important lessons at this stage of my business. The main one being to build in more time for myself to play and explore different styles. To be able to witness the beautiful photo sets made me want to experiment with darker portraits that have a more artful or painterly feel.

The other lessons were more about practicing some of the things I've learned this year: 1. It's okay to rest, 2. Listen to your body. With all of the speakers and talks and photo booths to try out, I struggled a bit to balance the fear of missing out with the need to take care of myself. You see, each day was so full and the weather so out of my comfort zone (90+ heat), that I found myself exhausted at the end of each day! One day that meant going back to my room to eat a modest lunch I packed and brought from home so I could get a quiet break. Other days, it was taking a water and breathing break in the middle of the day. I wore a mask indoors, so taking a step outside, finding shade to rest in, and drink water was super helpful!

All in all, I'm incredibly grateful to have been able to attend this conference and am truly inspired.