Wanted to post some photography convention tips for you!
While every season seems to be impossibly busy for those of us in the photography business, never forget to take some time to learn something new. Before wedding season is upon us and in full swing, sit down and consider what new skills you’d like to learn this year. From conferences to one-on-one workshops, there are opportunities to further your photography education around every corner! It’s always beneficial to learn new ways of doing things and remind yourself how beautiful the basics of our craft are. Whether you have new techniques to offer others, or see that one of your favorite photographers is hosting a session near you, collaborating with fellow photographers is a great way to enhance your skills.
These collaborations and workshops are great ways to spark inspiration that you would miss out on by pigeonholing yourself into the monotony of routine. Not to mention the mutual benefits that come along with being a part of an active network of artists, creatives and entrepreneurs. Get involved in both local and national communities online and in person to keep things fresh and never stop learning. One of the greatest gifts these communities provide is sharing knowledge and collaborating organically!
We do know that first getting involved can be overwhelming, so we’ve compiled some tips to help navigate your way through the workshop world.
Choosing the right event to attend
The first question to ask yourself before planning or attending a conference is “what do I want to learn?” Different events serve different purposes, from education to testing out new products. Determining exactly what you want to achieve helps you narrow down selections. The most common reasons for attending a conference include learning new techniques, professional networking and checking out new products. No matter your goals, a workshop serves as a useful and fun place for professional development.
After your main goal for attending a workshop is established, choose between small or large, local or destination, themed or general and hands-on or more informative. Big scale conventions tend to be too large to offer an intimate, hands-on approach, so opt to leave your hardware at home for these. If your goal is to learn a new technique, smaller-scale workshops are just the place to bring your camera along and practice new techniques. On the other hand, if you want to do a lot of networking and listen to the leaders of your industry, consider choosing a larger event such as Imaging USA, WPPI or Photo Plus Expo. Keep in mind, however, that these events tend to be in big cities and attract a huge audience so navigation can be challenging, but the presenters tend to be the best of the best in the industry!
When you’ve made your decision and the day arrives, remember to pack comfortable shoes, a small backpack and everyday essentials – water, a portable snack, notebook and pen (or ipad with portable keyboard for taking notes!), phone charger and business cards. Chances are you’ll make a lot of connections so business cards will keep you time and convenience! As the event goes on, keep an open mind and allow your plan to change if a spot in a previously full class opens up, or you find yourself with some extra time to mingle with peers. I’d recommend pushing yourself to take a class you weren’t originally interested in, as you might just find yourself with a new perspective you never imagined you’d learn! Some of the best speakers might primarily shoot landscape, while you shoot weddings, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have nothing to learn from them. Sit in on a new speaker from a different specialty and leave your bias at the door!
Plan a workshop in your area
If you’ve mastered a skill or got your hands on a new product early and want to help others get up to speed, consider planning and hosting a workshop yourself! It doesn’t have to be the most lavish event of all time, and you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money to attract a crowd. Opt to register and promote your event online to reduce advertising costs and quickly spread awareness. Be sure to utilize social media channels to spread the word in the right groups and demographic. Create a public Facebook event to reach people you may not know directly, and encourage them to invite friends. Also consider formalizing an agreement with vendors and talent involved in planning the event to cross-promote on their social channels and with their networks as well.
When the day of the event arrives, be sure to line up plenty of help. Planning and hosting an event doesn’t always come easy, and having a reliable assistant and staff can make all the difference. Ensure you have a schedule planned out to keep things running smoothly, and always leave some wiggle room just in case things don’t go exactly as planned!
Whether you want to host or simply attend, there is no time to stop educating yourself. And what better way to improve your skills than to get involved with fellow photographers? Let’s show everyone that you CAN teach an old dog a new trick. Happy learning!