One of the best ways to quickly improve your photography skills and expand your circle of acquaintances is to attend a photography conference. If you’ve never been to events like this before, the idea of a trip can be a little scary, but you have to put up with it. There is nothing better than meeting many active photographers in one room to discuss the latest and best equipment and various shooting techniques with them. The energy and flow of knowledge at such events is simply unbelievable. Most conferences and other educational photo events gather the best speakers and teachers, so this is a great way to improve your skills and meet with mentors.
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Photographer Lara Joy offers some tips to help you choose the right photography conference to get the most out of it.
Tip # 1: Think About Your Goals
Rate your goals for attending a photography conference. First think over what you want to draw from it. Obviously, if you are a wildlife photographer, and the conference is devoted exclusively to street photography, it does not suit you. But, if the conference offers many different training options, it will be necessary to conduct some research before deciding whether or not to participate. Look on Twitter and other social networks for information about the conference by its hashtag. Participate in a discussion of a future conference in advance.
Start by exploring biographies and instructor websites. Do their work inspire you? Do they look like the ones you strive to do yourself? Watch a video about them and their blogs to see if your teaching style matches your learning style. If several instructors will be pleasant to you, take an interest specifically in their courses at this conference.
Learning new things
Learning new things is also important, so pay attention to courses that are completely non-standard for you. If you are a wildlife photographer and invest your time in a 90-minute course in street photography, you might be very surprised at how it will affect your work the next time you go on an African safari. It will definitely help you break free from your creative routine. And after the lesson, you can continue to study street photos .
Tip # 2: Networking
The main reason for going to the photoconference is to expand your own photo community. This is a unique feeling when you have the opportunity to communicate with people you met only on the Internet. A live meeting is an opportunity not only to make new friends or just personally meet experienced instructors, as well as meet people whose creativity you have been following.
It’s nice to have business cards with you. Take other people’s business cards as well. And also remember that you should not have lunch alone, otherwise miss a good chance to expand the circle of friends. The level of awkwardness is minimal.
Big conferences or small ones?
At a conference with 1000 people, it’s not so easy to enter the company and make new friends. But at a small conference this is not difficult at all. You will take the same courses with the same people again and again, and besides, you will probably be able to make friends and even plan to take photos together until the end of the weekend.
At a small conference, your instructors are likely to have lunch near you. Although it is worth adding that large conferences, in turn, attract famous names, therefore, although you will not be able to get so many personal contacts, this can still be justified if you intend to learn from someone you deeply respect.
Tip # 3: Take advantage of every opportunity
In addition to seminars and practical courses, most photography conferences offer opening and closing presentations. Typically, such speeches are read by well-known photographers or industry experts. You can think of it as completely ordinary things in the program of the event, and it is in vain!
Often such presentations are the best parts of a conference. The opening leitmotif establishes the basis for the entire event, it sets out all the possibilities for learning. The closing presentation concludes the week with an overview of what you have learned and a reminder of what requires practice.
Photo walks help combine learning and communication into one exciting activity. As you can imagine, they are more common in small conferences. A crowd of thousands of visitors with cameras in one neighborhood (or even a street) usually does not quite contribute to successful photography. If photo walks are your priority, attend small regional conferences.
Sales and Exhibitions
At each conference there are sellers or exhibition venues where you can test the latest equipment. Make sure you take this into account when setting up your schedule to save time. At small conferences, you will probably even be able to rent equipment for the whole day and try it out. Sometimes sellers offer discounts and even have a product on hand that you can immediately buy and take home. At a large conference, you probably can’t do more than just look at the equipment at the seller’s booth and speak with a representative. In such an environment, you often feel as if you are at a simple exhibition of all kinds of interactive creative and technological exhibitions.
Tip # 4: Bonuses
Almost always, a conference is held at the conference, which includes free food, drinks and entertainment, so it’s definitely worth going. This is a nice bonus. Remember that, again, if your goal is networking, then at the party an informal atmosphere for meeting and communicating with fellow photographers and instructors will be even more conducive.
Bring your camera
A significant part of the photoconference can become a real treasure for photography, so take a camera with you. Many people do not. Some will bring it, but they will not pull it out of the bag (but certainly not you!). Even if you are a wildlife photographer and the images are not included in your portfolio, shooting a conference will help you consolidate everything that you learned over the past days.
Tip # 5: Maximize Your Trip
Most conferences last only three or four days, but there is no rule that you cannot rest a bit at work. It’s best to choose a conference near some cool place and after its end stay in this area for a few more days to put everything you have learned into practice.
At the end of the conference, it is recommended that you review your notes and structure them in some kind of cloud storage. Write a blog post about your experience; share photos from the event. Your customers would like to know that you are investing in your professional education and are associated with the industry.
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