OK - so I'm going to be pretty honest in this post. Don't hate me. I haven't felt like myself for nearly a week and feel like I haven't slept well in the same amount of time. Please be gracious with me!
Mike and I headed off to Santa Barbara, California for a conference last week. We tried to build in a little extra time for us to enjoy the scenery and get some R&R in. UNITED is a conference put on by a community of photographers that have a similar business model to ours. We believe in offering high customer service and making the digital files available for you all to share. We had not really been a part of something like this and knew that when we found them, it was EXACTLY what we needed - for business and our sanity. My lovely friend introduced me to them and I haven't looked back since.
As Rebecca and I talked more, she introduced me to two other awesome photographer teams: Justin & Mary and Katelyn James. I was excited about this conference as soon as it was announced. BUT, when I heard both of these teams were speaking, it became a NO BRAINER for us and we started packing. Not only that, but then we were able to set up a one-on-one mentoring session with Justin & Mary while we were out there!!!
OK - so, we LOVED UNITED!! I was really drawn to the idea of having a mix of new and veteran photographers. There are several opportunities for you to have hands on experience and photograph different sessions throughout the week. It was a great way to meet people in the same stage as us, a few more steps ahead of us, some WAY farther along, and some just starting out. We made some great friendships and learned a ton from a variety of people. WPPI is going on now with 16,000 people so I loved the idea of only having 400 and being much more intimate. All that to say, here are a few things that stand out to me from our week.
Santa Barbara - I mean it is BEAUTIFUL there so who can complain.
Meeting some great people and having conversations with Frank, Stephanie, Carrie, Kristy, Jenelle, Randy, Chris, and a several others! These were random conversations that happened and we feel like we have a ton to take away from them alone - plus some awesome new friends.
Justin & Mary's talks - WOW! They fit a TON of info in to a few minutes, but it was super helpful and no doubt it will change us and our business.
Jeremy Kester being real with us and making photos come to life.
And of course our one-on-one mentoring session with Justin & Mary. They truly have hearts of gold. It was a fabulous time with them and we are grateful they set aside time for us. They not only had THREE talks at UNITED, but are also speaking at WPPI this week.
Our time being photographed with Justin & Mary! Oh man - you have NO idea how great this was. You may have seen a photo pn Facebook, and I will be sharing more about that photo tomorrow. They will also be sending more our way sometime and I am soooooo excited!
Photographing a girl in a bathtub. Yep! She was clothed - but it was out of my comfort zone and turned out to be my favorite shoot, You'll see some photos of the beautiful Macy later too.
And...the stomach bug! Not a highlight, but a recap. I got super sick right after meeting with Justin & Mary. I was down hard for 24 hours and then trying to build up courage to fly home. We made it - and a few hours later, Mike was down for the count. I think we are both almost back up to speed. Just trying to build up our energy slowly. If you think about it, please continue to keep us in your prayers.
Flying home. I am a bad traveler. And I am a bad patient. Putting those together was not fun. Then we drove STRAIGHT through that nasty storm that hit California. Those first 20 minutes we're awful!!! I had made peace with God and was pretty sure that was going to be the end of my life. So, when my two feet hit the ground in Orlando, I was beyond thrilled.