My heart is still a-flutter after this weekend. On Saturday, I attended the I Heart Faces Photography Conference at Southfork Ranch. I attended a small photography workshop three years ago and really benefited from it and felt the ache for new knowledge again this year.
I almost talked myself out of going. I didn't personally know anyone who was going. And then there is the fact that I haven't really been giving 100% (or even 50%) to growing my business. Obviously, I made the decision to cut back but I never defined what I was cutting back to and where I was going from there. I have been stagnant. Without vision of what I was even doing with my photography, it felt a little odd to attend an event with so many women who had the hunger and drive to make things happen for their business. Even so, the conference was broad enough to encompass enthusiasts, so I figured I would give it a whirl.
And it was fantastic. Even more than I had ever hoped. I'll group the awesomeness below...
I don't know how, but I managed to sit with some amazing women at my table. Each came from different cities/states and each came with their own unique purpose. They were beautiful, talented, and kind to boot. A warm thanks to Mandy, Ana, Jill, Sandra, Shelly, Muriel, and all the other sweeties I encountered! Their generosity and good nature made for an enjoyable experience. I walked away with new friends and am excited to keep in touch with them. As Sandra recently wrote to me - thank goodness for Facebook - ha!
I wish there was a feature to make my text blink in and radiate like a Broadway sign, but black and white will have to do.
Are you ready for this?
The morning/evening keynotes were KELLE HAMPTON and SUE BRYCE (it should probably read as "Kelle-freakin'-Hampton" and "Sue-freakin'-Bryce"). Both are rock stars and I couldn't wait to hear what each had to share.
Kelle is incredible. Like thousands out there, I was in tears when I read Nella's birth story and have been following her blog since. Her words are vivid and crafted with purpose. Her photos are alive. Her book, Bloom, is full of wisdom and honesty. I've had an idea of what Kelle would be like in "real life" for a while now and after meeting her, I wasn't disappointed. Her poise and graciousness is first class. I'm convinced she floats, people. She spoke with anyone who approached her, smiled for tons of photos, and was full of reverent observation the entire day. In the morning, she shared her journey through photography with us and walked us through how she stopped focusing so much on how to make photos beautiful and instead focused on taking photos of beautiful things.
The evening closed out with Sue Bryce. She is a kick-butt portrait photographer that has a raw passion for capturing the beauty in every single one of her subjects. Sue wants every woman to feel like she's on the cover of Vogue and has done a phenomenal job of doing just that (check this out). She is witty, blunt, and wildly entertaining. She shared her tips and tricks of posing and blew. my. mind. Sue's genuine perspective on the industry and what she is called to do was moving and I'm so grateful to have heard her speak.
The workshops were a complete blast. Amy Karp and Stacy Reeves gave a thorough run down on how to make money with photography and their insight and strategies were beneficial to all in the room. I'm bummed to hear Stacy is moving to Paris - the DFW area is certainly losing a star talent (but I'm happy for her... she seemed super excited when talking about it - yay, Stacy!). I really enjoyed Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman's workshop on how to work with children and get natural smiles/reactions from them. She showed us how to manage different age groups. Jennifer's enthusiasm and energy is infectious and it is no wonder that she excels at her work. I got another chance to experience Stacy Reeves' genius during her bridal workshop and learned how to get more poses out of a single spot than what I've been used to. I have long admired her style and appreciated her demonstrating such an excellent skill.
Location, location, location, right? Southfork Ranch was an awesome place and had plenty of photo ops for us to take advantage of. A special thanks to Ana for catching a nice photo of me. (PS - the dream house in my head will now have yellow striped awnings on it thankyouverymuch.)
I admit it. I'm a sucker for swag. Our bags included this precious necklace from The Vintage Pearl... it is the I Heart Faces logo. I'm in love! (Note my "Sue Bryce" chin in full action here.)
The True Takeaway
Kelle Hampton. A cool necklace. New friends. Learning how to drop 20 pounds in a photo. Kelle Hampton. ... These were all really cool things to experience on Saturday. But the real magic is what happened after. I felt so happy and light upon my return home. My mind raced with ideas and things I wanted to do.
I was inspired.
I don't know what this ultimately means for me and my photography, but whether for personal documentation or for my business, this conference changed me. You know how your parents harped on you about your friends and the company you keep? There is truth in that, if even for a day. Surround yourself by brilliance for a Saturday and you'll walk away changed for the better. Reinvigorated.
I re-learned why it's good to get out of comfort zones every now and then and go to a conference where I don't know a soul. Why it's good to do something just for myself. I remembered why photography speaks to me so and the power in images. The stories that are formed and the feelings that are recorded. I'm grateful that God put me in the path of sweet women at my table and know that it wasn't a coincidence. I'm so happy and I look forward to the changes ahead in my own journey with photography.