Getting the opportunity to attend Showit United, a photography conference that takes place in Phoenix, Arizona was beyond what I had imagined. There were so many great moments, laughs, tears and it would take quite some time to do a full recap of the entire experience, so instead, I wanted to share 7 of my most favorite memories from my first-year experience at Showit United, as well as my biggest takeaway. I’m such a sentimental, nostalgic person who loves looking back and just remembering memories and how I felt in the moment. So I thought this would be a fun way to share some of my travels/professional development in a short, simple, easy-to-read way!
1) Arizona’s warmth, sunshine & breathtaking views!
I’ve always seen photos taken in the desert, but man, it’s nothing like being there and be surrounded by that natural beauty. It’s definitely something else and even the prettiest pictures don’t do it justice. When we arrived in Arizona it was a warm 80-something degrees, way different from what we left behind in Indiana! Just feeling that warm sun beating down on you and seeing all the surrounding beauty instantly uplifts your soul and puts you in the best mood.
2) Desert Styled Shoots!
It has always been a photography bucket list item for me to shoot in the desert. It’s just so different from what we have here in Indiana and gives the photos a completely different feel. I was so excited to be able to take part in two styled shoots during my time here, one was a Citrus Inspired Details Bar and the other was a Minimalistic, Earthy Boho Bridal Styled Shoot! It’s was so fun getting creative and doing shoots for myself for once, not that I don’t enjoy every shoot/wedding I have the privilege to photograph, I absolutely do! But when a professional stylist goes all out on choosing the perfect pretty color pallets and pays close attention to every single detail involved in the shoot and when it also matches my brand/style, that is the best thing to photograph and is just so so much fun!
3) Traveling with a sweet friend who also has the same passions as you!
Do you have a friend in your life who is just oh so relatable, kind, open and genuine?! On top of that, shares a lot of the same passions as yourself? For me, that friend is Victoria of Victoria Rayburn Photography! I’ve known Victoria for a few years now, we met through photography and City of God and have shot weddings together a couple of times as well as do branding session trades often. We bond over our love for photography, married life and just the realness of life in general and it is always so refreshing hanging out with this girl! Not to mention both of us having extremely organized and resourceful personalities, which definitely made traveling and navigating through any travel stressors pretty easy to solve together. “Only a 15 minute layover and we need coffee, food & bathroom breaks? You hit the bathroom, I’ll hit up Starbucks and then we’ll trade!” From getting attacked by cacti, fan girling over our favorite photographers, getting excited about each others images from the styled shoots and so much more, these memories will always be cherished!
4) Networking, meeting other creatives and make NEW friends!
There were hundreds of photographers and creatives at Showit United. We met so many people just like us and Victoria even networked with a couple of her favorite podcasters and exchanged information! Now we’re crossing our fingers she gets featured on atleast one podcast, because how cool would that be and this girl is so knowledgeable and talented…she should really be on everyone’s photography podcast!
Two friends that we spent the most time with were Rachel Stelter a photographer out of Los Angeles, California and Olivia Stouffer a photographer out of Detroit, Michigan. Each day of the conference there was some sort of social event in the evening and we just ran into these two every single time and just had so much fun talking about totally relatable things about being photographers, laughing and just getting to know each other. Not to mention getting a professional group photo together at the Gala dinner that should totally be featured in Vogue or Vanity Fair. 😉
Really hoping to see these two next year too!
5) The United Gala Night!
On Tuesday night of the conference there was a fancy dinner party called the Grand Oasis Gala. This was an opportunity to get dressed up in your fanciest clothes, take a limo bus to Legacy Golf Resort in Phoenix and attend a cocktail hour under the stars followed by an outdoor dinner party which included a dinner buffet, a donut bar, cheesecake dessert, a fun photo booth, an awards ceremony and getting to bust some moves on the dance floor! Everything was so beautifully decorated and since I’m not typically much of a gala-going girl, it was so fun to get dressed up and go out for the night!
6) Meeting some of my biggest photography influencers/teachers!
One of the most exciting things that happened at United was seeing some of the photographers that I admire most just casually walking around and enjoying the same conference I’m at! When you follow someone on social media and see their posts/stories daily, listen to their podcasts and watch their webcasts/online courses, getting to see that same person live right in front of you that you see & hear so much online and really admire, it kind of makes you scream a little on the inside! Needless to say, I was star struck, and so thankful to meet and get photos with atleast 5 photographers that have both inspired me and helped to make a difference in my life and photography career!
7) The Variety of Breakout Sessions & Keynotes (My biggest takeaway)
I was so impressed with how many keynote speakers and breakout sessions were offered, topics from posing flows, getting published, website creating to standing out in a saturated market, finances, lessons learned and so much more. There was definitely no lack of finding breakout sessions that fit the best for you and your business!
I’m still a little information overloaded, but I took many notes and plan to rewatch some of the speakers and breakouts I missed as well as review my notebook more this winter. I learned so much and have so much inspiration and ideas to incorporate as I go into my 5th year of business as a photographer, but I think what I took away the most is listening to the rawness of photographers speak about how they’re feeling after “making it” in the industry. There were several photographers that spoke about this topic but in specific a session that really spoke to me was Julie Paisley’s breakout session called “10 years, 10 lessons”.
Julie is a luxury Wedding & Anniversary photographer based in Nashville, TN. She has been in business for 10 years and has been published in big name magazines such as People and Martha Stewart Magazine. She travels internationally all over the world for weddings and photographs wedding days at rates anywhere from $10,000 up to $20,000. Can you imagine paying your photographer $20,000 to photograph your wedding day?! This woman kills it and has won major awards for her hard work and talent in the biz.
Julie acknowledged all of this in her talk only to say that yes she’s great and has won all these awards and makes good money shooting international weddings, but what’s the big deal. These “accomplishments” should not be “Goals”. We are in the industry to serve people, with our camera as a tool to do so. Getting the million dollar high-end weddings, thousands of followers and likes on social media and getting to a six-figure income being a full-time photographer is an awesome accomplishment, yes, but it shouldn’t be goals. Those things should be looked at as “bonuses” and nothing more.
Being a full-time photographer in a very saturated market it’s easy to fall into thinking there’s pressure to be all these things and also stand out, to think that if we aim for luxury weddings and getting published/winning awards maybe we’ll be fulfilled. On top of that constantly falling into the comparison game and beating yourself down when you don’t feel like you measure up. This industry is hard and it gets harder the longer you stay in it. Julie reminds us we shouldn’t be solely aiming for these accomplishments in our businesses, if we do that we will get burnt out quickly and in the end not be fulfilled. Because awards, likes, followers and even getting to photograph the most beautiful million dollar weddings isn’t going to fulfill you and your career goals. All that really matters, is that we serve, enjoy our work and the people we get the opportunity to serve and giving them the best images we can while also being the best person we can. I love what Julie shared on her social media recently in regards to this talk she shared at United:
“I’m grateful for my ‘bonuses’ but as I draw near to the end of my wedding career and pivot into coaching, those achievements will not be what keeps me successful through my next 10 years. Because guess what, after I’m no longer a wedding photographer, nobody cares. It’s the relationships built that matters.” -Julie Paisley
Are you a photographer/creative interested in attending Showit United?!
Overall, I believe I felt so connected to this conference because it made me feel so “in my element”. My passion for photography is so strong and I just love anything and everything I can learn and incorporate into my business. I just LOVE what I do and getting to spend 4 days working on photography and meeting others who have the same passion is just so fun and refreshing.
Victoria & I had such a good time and benefited from this conference so much that we have decided to attend the conference again next year together! If you’re interested in joining us, head over to the Showit website! Registration for Showit United 2020 opens in March and they offer discounted tickets for early birds! I promise you won’t regret this experience, we hope to see you there! 🙂