I have been ‘chomping at the bit' to attend a photography conference for quite some time. Not only am I interested in the technical information I might add to my repertoire, but I also want to get to know some of my fellow photographers in the Skagit/Whatcom county areas. So, a month ago, I paid a very nominal fee to attend a photography conference in March called Photo Lush in Bellingham, Washington.
Two weeks before the conference: DUN-DUN-DUN!!! I was stricken with the most vile flu bug I've ever had. This bug had all the bells and whistles. I'll spare you the details (just imagine every horrible symptom a flu bug has been known to produce). To top it off: by the seventh day of illness, I still wasn't better!
I prayed to bear my sickness with patience, but that lasted until the eighth day when I rose up (well, okay, wobbled up) from my sick bed and declared with all the strength I could muster (to my husband, who was the only one there): “I've had it with this! I can't take it any longer! I'm not getting any better! I want you to take me to the doctor tomorrow!" My husband asked if I wanted to go to the emergency room, which I declined. The stunned look on his face let me know that he took me seriously.
You thought this post was about a photography conference, right? Well, hang tight, I'm getting there. At the beginning of the second week of The Great Influenza Virus, I visited my doctor and learned that I most likely had a very bad sinus infection on top of the flu bug. First time ever! Meds were dispensed and I went home expecting to get well very soon.
Not quite. Three days later, I was marginally better. I was able to drive to town (just to get out of the house, basically), and bought lunch at the Panera Bread drive-through window. I ate my goodies in the car and felt an immediate need to put my head down and go to sleep. Somehow, I managed to drive home, where I collapsed on my bed and snoozed away the afternoon.
So, you can imagine my disappointment when I realized that the photography conference I'd been looking forward to for weeks was coming up the very next day and here I was, a pale imitation of my former self. I prayed for my strength to return so I wouldn't have to miss the big event.
The upshot? The next day, feeling about 80% of my full power, I drove 45 minutes to the Photo Lush conference. Come hell or high water, I was going! And man, am I glad I did!
I found the conference to be extremely valuable, covering topics ranging from in-person sales to color management and business taxes and many other intriguing topics for photographers. I may have been unique in that I did not know anyone else at the conference (other than a few photographers that I have stalked--er, I mean followed--on Facebook).
So, getting to meet these people in person and putting faces with names was very nice. All of the presenters had very valuable information to share. I was actually kind of surprised—I thought the information might be either too basic or way over my head. What was especially gratifying was to see these people are just like me: perhaps many had more experience, but they were all very generous in sharing their stories and resources. One message that came through loud and clear: no one has all of the answers, but we were all encouraged to experiment, step out, take risks, and have fun.
The atmosphere was one of camaraderie, fun, and learning. Where else can photographers find other creatives who get excited about lens flare and making a difference in the world with their photography? (We heard from a photographer with Compassion International and another who went to Ethiopia with a group that helps villagers obtain wells for drinking water).
I honestly wondered if I qualified to be in this group or whether I would feel way out of my league. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that, no matter our levels of experience or personalities, we all had something in common: a love of photography and the desire to be better photographers and business owners.
There were so many things I enjoyed about the conference, but I think the vintage-styled photo shoots brought it over the top. The stylized shoots were done at the Heritage Flight Museum at the Bellingham Airport, using vintage airplanes and beautiful models dressed in vintage clothing.
I do not know very much about off-camera lighting and was thrilled to be able to not only use a variety of lighting set-ups, but to return home with some outstanding photos for my portfolio. I enjoyed editing the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them!
I was also very pleased that the presenters who provided the lighting were very open and helpful with tips on how to use the lights. After the conference, I emailed each one and received some wonderful resources to learn about lighting and lighting gear.
For the amount of information that was shared, the price was unbelievably modest. I left the conference on a bit of a high and it took me a few days to process it all.
The bottom line? I feel more empowered as a photographer with the additional knowledge and relationships that I acquired at Photo Lush. Thank you to the organizers and everyone who contributed their time and talent. I'm looking forward to another conference next year!
Here are a few links to some of the vendors who contributed to the event:
Group photo taken by Photographer Lyle Jansma, who was hovering above us in a helicopter. (I helpfully circled myself in yellow on the left.)