I came into this experience not really knowing what to expect. I’ve never been to a conference and I’m not going to lie when I say that I had my doubts. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make friends or learn anything. Or if I’d be able to handle the amount of people and different personalities all in a tiny space. It’s definitely a bit overwhelming at first, but this experience has FAR surpassed my expectations.
I’m walking away with REAL and honest friendships. I’ve been able to put real faces to the names of all of these “friends” I interact with online. I’ve been able to humanize the photographers I’ve looked up to and followed since first buying a camera. I’ve been able to calm my anxiety about being around a large group of photographers and just realize we’re all just trying to figure out the same exact shit in our lives and business. And I’ve been able to slow down and really look at my business and what I need to do to change to make it even better.
I’m not going to go to in-depth about what the speakers talked about, because it really isn’t my place or my information to give. I do want to tell you all what I personally learned from each speaker. I want people to know that Conferences and Workshops are worth it, and that you really do learn so much if you just shutup and listen. You should definitely consider heading down to attend the next Forest & Falls. I highly recommend it.
I also want you to check out all of these amazing people that I’ve met and bonded with over the past couple of days. Give their work a look through and hopefully you’re able to connect with them, and just know how truly exceptional they all are.
Lindsey Paradiso / Marica Walters / Tara Nelson / Amy Barber / Brittany Bailey / Ashley Johnson / Alex Korhley-Day / Aaron & Whitney Durall / Cody Harris / Kyle Wilson / Seth Sanker / Halie & Alex Stanley / Keely & Aaron Montoya
These definitely aren’t the only names that should be on this list, but I’m still reeling from everything and will edit in more later.
Roberts talk opened my eyes to everything I was doing wrong. I had gotten lazy with communicating with my clients and he’s showed me that it is one of the most important parts of this whole process. I knew that we needed to be communicating with our clients about things we wanted them to know, but I never realized that we should be more in depth. I walked away knowing that our process is all about catering to our clients and that without them we’d be stuck in a job that we hate.
I learned that being vulnerable with clients isn’t a terrible thing. We should be sharing honesty with one another and if I’m willing to open up with my clients then they’ll be more willing as well. I know I need to foster my relationships and build them from the very beginning if I want to build trust and have my clients be confident in my work.
Backup is key to running a successful business. Chad’s willingness to share his horror stories with us all really opened my eyes that I need a better backup system. Also, hearing everyone else’s horror stories made me realize that I need a fire/water/robber proof safe.
I need to start putting more humanity into my work. I need to do more for people because everyone deserves to be documented and to have those memories. We’re all human and we should treat each other as such. We should be all inclusive in everything we do and not shy away from people that may be different than ourselves.
Aaron’s talk really hit home for me. I’ve let my ego get in my way multiple times and it really does affect the work I put out into the world. Social Media is essentially a drug for us and it’s hard to break away from that. We need to be confident with what we’re creating so that we can get shit done and stop worrying about what other photographers think. Fake internet points mean nothing.
I’ve looked up to Benj and his work for A LONG time, so hearing him speak was a dream. He really pressed that there are no shit weddings, and we need to stop thinking that. Not every wedding is going to be our ideal aesthetic, and that’s ok. It’s the most important day to someone and we need to work at capturing that for ALL clients. We need to encourage them even when they have terrible ideas, and we need to remember that photos are what our clients are left with when their memories fade.
Like a couple of the others Sara is one of the photographers I’ve been following since I first started. I’ve looked up to her vision for years. Her talk touched on the fact that we are our brand and everything we do reflects that. We should be putting our personalities on social media instead of just using stock quotes and emojis.
I attended one of Sam’s workshops back in 2015 and it really helped my business grow. His presentation had some of the same things we learned in the workshop but it was a nice little refresher. We should try and do more creatively, and if our ideas fail we should learn to be ok with that.
I’ve been dealing with anxiety for awhile and it’s only gotten worst since starting my own business. This industry is stressful and it’s hard to separate ourselves from our business. If we can start to recognize our own flaws and just be ourselves we can ease our stress levels and mellow out enough to stop the panic, and to be OK.
I’ve been saying it for years, and I’m glad Cody had the balls to stand up in a room full of people and say it as well; We are never too good to practice and shoot for free. Free shoots allow us to stretch out creative wings and do things we would normally be to scared to try. We aren’t going to have our definition of success just handed to us and we have to be patient when we’re growing and starting a business. We have to invest the time and effort into it, and give our clients the best possible experience when working with us.
If you haven’t heard Ryan speak I highly suggest you do. He left me an emotional wreck and when I left the conference hall I ended up having a panic attack because it was just SO REAL. I can’t really put into words the way he’s touched me and imprinted on me, but it’s big. Just listen to him, and realize that the things we’re all worried about are pointless and make zero damn sense in the big picture.
I ended up missing Ben’s talk because staying up until 4AM will make you want to sleep through a 9AM slot. I’m sure it was amazing.
Gabe is just an amazing creative soul who put himself out there for all of us. He shared with us his beginning and how he transformed himself into the artist he is today and it’s incredible what he’s accomplished. The gist of what I learned from him is that creating art for ourselves will begin the journey to where we actually want to be with our work. If we’re chasing our own hearts then the images are more likely to be good years from now, instead of following what other photographers want to see.
Light. Light is such an important component in what we do. I’ve been dying to know even 10% of how she uses light. Nessa is really a genius and I’ve never even thought to do some of the things that she does. She also had the best quote of the whole conference, “What we do is so fucking important”.
Kristen explained how we can use our personalities to influence our clients and adjust to theirs. We need to pay attention to their love language and their body language if we want to be able to photograph them as they are as a couple. We have to start really paying attention to everything they say and do so that we’re ready to catch anything that may happen. She’s also hilarious and I hear that her Instagram stories are on point.