Conference Season Is Upon Us
It's photography conference season, if you haven't noticed. Imaging USA, produced by PPA is on right now. WPPI‘s annual meeting and expo has apparently moved to a new space and will run in early February.
As I have said before, those are conferences that you should go to … at least once.
But if you prefer something more intimate and intellectually stimulating, check out Inspire Photo Retreats. It is coming up quickly. This year, like last year, it will be held in Newport, Rhode Island, from February 27 through March 1. Please visit and register for it here.
Four things dictate a photography conference's level of success:
1) Personal experience
Does your personal experience motivate you to keep coming back?
I can't recall attending any other annual photography get together more times than Inspire Photo Retreats. There is a vibe that is both positive and uplifting to me. This conference couldn't come at a better time in the year when I am starting to plan out the year and consider how my business will be shaped. When I attend, I can be sure of meeting amazing people and having a memorable experience. The conference is topped off at 250 participants and continues to foster a sense of community and fellowship that the larger conferences simply cannot provide. If this is what you are looking for, you are in the right place.
So the answer is, yes, I would love to go back to Inspire again and again.
Is the conference organized and efficient? And are the organizers open to suggestions for change?
Eric Foley, Enna Grazier and Mark Higgins are all busy photographers. But every year, for the last several years, they have dedicated themselves to producing a phenomenal event that is rich in quality content. It's no easy matter to put this photography conference on, but they do so with the help of great volunteers and a hotel staff that is now well-tuned to their needs. I give Eric, Enna and Mark full credit for elevating their conference game each year. They provide a safe space for everyone to express themselves, in a format that truly feels like you are at a retreat. Year after year, they make it a point to send out a survey after the conference to see how they can improve the overall experience for everyone.
High marks for the trio on this one because I have seen this conference grow, not so much in size thankfully, but in quality.
3) Speaker Lineup
Are the speakers simply dumping information or are they teaching you a skill?
Sean D'Souza of Psychotactics has a great metric for workshops and conferences. If they are simply an information dump, he gives them a failing grade. What makes his own workshops stand out is the fact that you will never leave without learning a skill – a skill you can put to use right away.
The speakers at Inspire Photo Retreats do the same thing. There is information, for sure. But the skills that they teach are actionable. While there is some overlap, year to year, the organizers go to great lengths to find speakers who will add value to those who attend.
I spoke with six speakers (see below), but there are 19 speakers in all, over the course of three days. From my experience, every speaker prepares to wow with information that is actionable. I'm willing to bet I won't find a seat again when Spencer Lum speaks. Or, how about Sarah Dugan who will be teaching us to work with cyanotype and produce salt prints. Did you want to learn how to market using video? Kate McElwee is set to teach you just that. Wendell Fernandes, whom I haven't met, will help you hone in on creating and sustaining client relationships. Want to learn about the lucrative and colorful world of multicultural weddings? Petronella Lugemwa is the right person to do it. And there are others, each bringing their A game to a conference that they love.
4) Wonderful Vendors
How engaged are the vendors? Is the trade show only an opportunity for vendors to sell to us or for us to get to know them and their products?
What's a conference without a trade show, right? Well, again, the trade show at Inspire Photo Retreats feels different. Thanks to the limited number of participants, there is more time and more opportunities to sit down and talk with the vendors who will support you through the year. I recall having a wonderful time speaking with Kate Kauffman of Fundy Designer, Joel Wiebner of Perfect Image, Colin Breece of ShootProof and Kyu Don Kwak of Pictobooks.
I found pockets of time to steal away and speak with the vendors. ShootDotEdit, with Jared Bauman's leadership, really set the tone for what vendors can expect at Inspire Photo Retreats. As Bauman told me a few years ago, “We are in it for the long haul.” I believe every vendor understands and accepts this paradigm; you come year after year, not so much to sell but to see how to help photographers problem-solve.
Interviews With Speakers
You'll agree it's a diverse group of speakers. Do look at the full line up of speakers at Inspire Photo Retreats this year.
Community, The Common Theme
Whether it is on TiffinboxTV or here on the blog, I've talked about stepping away from your business to recharge your creative batteries. There is no better conference than Inspire Photo Retreats that will help you do just that.
Think of what you will learn, think of who you will speak with, think of the networking opportunities, think of just being away from home for a few days and think of the community you will begin building.
Whether you are a portrait or wedding photographer, there is a speaker who is meant just for you. So hop off of that fence and register now.
Join me at Inspire Photo Retreats this year!