I would say that the biggest downside to attending conferences like WPPI and UNITED is something I refer to as “Post-Conference Withdrawals.” You spend a few days of making memories with people of the same tribe who understand the joys and challenges of the photography profession. I'm not sure if it is because I keep the company of hug-loving Showiteers; but I feel like the photography field is full of so much camaraderie and it is a thing of beauty. Everyone that I have met at conferences are the most fun, family-oriented people you will meet. They are relentless in their support for one another. I always step back and wonder how I got so lucky to have happened upon this group that has come to feel like family to me.
Year after year we meet for these conferences for a few days of learning, creativity and kinship. At WPPI you would walk through a crowd of thousands of people and still have people running to hug you left and right. At one of the largest and most busy hotels the elevator door would open to friendly faces you usually only get to see on Facebook and Skype. Jeff Shipley of Tonic Sites designed my website that is too pretty for words. Instead of Jeff being some random person behind a computer that lives across the world I was able to share a cab with him to the Showiteer Dinner at the Cosmopolitan. I loved the opportunity to get to know the man behind my site design a little better. I have reaped so much benefit from Jeff's creative contribution to my business so it was so nice to be able to get a glimpse into his world that has helped mine to be such a success.
I live for these conferences when we all pile in a rental car and set out to be inspired. No where else would so much amusement come from backlighting mouth freshening spray and have grown men spitting water on each other for the sake of hilarious action shots. I have a special place in my heart for huddling together playing cards against humanity and editing wars until the wee hours in the morning… then getting up early the next day to do it all over again. We are our own breed of weird and it is incredible. The few days a year we leave our normal routines and come together it is something I find invaluable. So when the dreaded day arrives when you pack up and head for home it can hit pretty hard.
To think that this all stems from web design software does not suffice. It comes from a few people with a much more grand idea of success than selling software. Todd and the Showit team are hyper focused on investing in you as in individual with your very unique and specific hopes and interests. They put the tools in their hands to set you apart from the cookie cutter photog sites. They give us the freedom to fully be ourselves in our online presence. The return investment on my monthly subscription so greatly surpasses having an attractive website. What I really love is that they take it beyond that to go the extra step to give back and extend love towards others. A current project of this nature is The School Sessions– a project that a few of our own started to use our gifts as photographers to help raise money for a school to be built in Haiti. If you walked past the Showit booth at WPPI you know that it was unlike every other 10×12 block of marketing in the room. Instead of “buy this… try that” there was much more “Hi! Tell me about you…” with high fives mixed in.
So when you are feeling your hug meter running low and you're surrounded by people who don't see the value in the eccentricities that come with being a photographer this is what you can do: Keep doing life together. Sure we have great information sharing about equipment, legalities, client interactions, etc but what is really beautiful about this community is when we rally around one another. Continue encouraging and celebrating one another's successes. Sign up for UNITED. We want to get to know you and invite you in on the fun. Hop in on a Showit Live session every Tuesday at 10am PT/1pm ET. Let's keep on becoming better at life and business, together year after year.
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