Over the last couple days, I’ve had the pleasure of attending a couple seminars. Usually the day before a seminar, I sit at home and try to talk myself out of going. It’ll be boring. I won’t know anyone. How many more classes can I possibly take? I mean, come on. I know all there is to know, right?
WRONG. And these last two seminars proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
PART ONE: The first seminar was an all day expo at Cypress College. The speakers included Jasmine Star, [B]ecker, Dane Sanders, and a few others. FOR FREE. So besides the long drive, I had no other excuse not to attend. I arrived a little late, just in time to catch the last 1/2 of Jasmine Star’s segment. And unfortunately, she was speaking at the same time as Becker, so I missed him all together. But then I wrapped up my day with Dane Sanders. These people weren’t so much talking about photography as they were talking about business. And how to stand out. And how to market. There were no NEW concepts, really. But they all have a way of explaining things that literally make people burst into tears and leave the seminar feeling super motivated. I guess I’m a little jaded toward things like that, but I did take something away from the seminar.
The LOVE that I have for photography.
Dane Sanders asked in the very beginning “Why did you start taking photos?” And I thought about that through the entire seminar. And its a good question! Because we’ve all been there – when after a long day of shooting, you come home with a batch of mediocre photos and can’t think anything but I SUCK. And it makes you question whether you are really cut out to do this. I know I’ve been in that place more than once. So why did I start doing this? And why do I continue to do it?
Dane had a sweet story about why he wanted to be a photographer (you should watch the video on his website) and I kept feeling like my story wasn’t very spectacular or inspiring. But it’s still my story, I suppose. Photography is just part of who I am…
I don’t know if my parents knew something that I didn’t yet, but we seemed to have access to a camera as far back as I can remember. Whether it was a video camera or a cheap little 35mm or a disposable. We just always had them around. And it wasn’t so much the camera that I loved, but the images that were produced. I looked at photos constantly. When I was 10, I started making photo albums and I would fill them rather quickly, only to want to make more and preserve the memories of my family and friends. And I think those memories is what it comes down to for me. I’m a super nostalgic person with a terrible memory. Its a good thing I kept taking pictures, shooting videos and writing in journals because if I didn’t, I feel like so many of the moments would’ve been lost.
So I always kept that going. And I got my first SLR when I was 21. That’s when I started loving the cameras as much as the images they produced. I would drive all around Southern Utah just looking for photo opportunities. And I’d get that little rush of excitement picking up the prints from the Wal-Mart One Hour Photo lab. My friends called me the paparazzi. People always told me, “You should start a photography business!” But I mean, how do you even do that?? So all of this was just for fun. Never in a million years did I think I could ever do photography as a job.
But 3 years ago, I quit my corporate career. I started working from home. When things were slow, I would think “What am I going to do now?” And I really had to analyze and think about what made me happy. Since I was too old to be a rock star, it always came back to photography. So I started taking classes and just really absorbing as much information as I could. And it was all downhill from there. I’m not where I want to be yet, by any means. There is always something new to learn. But I think I’m on my way.
And when looking at their photos, I want my clients to feel like I do. Nostalgic. Remembering those happy times. Or maybe not-so-happy times. Where we all came from. Where we are all going. Photos open up a piece of your mind that sometimes causes pain. And sometimes reflects pure joy. But it is all a part of who we are today. So we need to cherish that and let it be a part of us.
PART TWO: While at the Cypress College expo, someone stood up with a flyer to tell us about a popular wedding photographer from Australia who was going to be speaking in LA. At the very least, I knew he would have an Australian accent and that was good enough for me. It was an all-day seminar for $100 (a steal around here!) so I registered, not really knowing what I was getting into. And I was beyond pleasantly surprised.
Jerry Ghionis. My new photography crush. He has been in the wedding photography business for a long time, has won loads of awards, and is just very knowledgeable and talented. Did I mention he has an Australian accent? He shared so much of his talent with us in one day. I honestly feel like with all the classes I’ve taken and all the photography speeches I’ve listened to – what he said just finally brought it all together for me. It was like I had all these pieces floating around and he made sense of it! He made it all sound so easy. Like a huge A-HA moment for me. I knew all this stuff, so why haven’t I used it??
I left the seminar feeling very excited. I texted my sister immediately and told her she’d be modeling for me this weekend so I could try out all the new things I learned. She has no choice.
So maybe what he shared will improve my photos. Or maybe not. But I have all the tools. I just need to slow down make sense of it all. I need to stop worrying about the little things that don’t matter. I just need to be better than I was yesterday.