Imaging USA 2014 | St. Augustine Photographer
This year I was blessed to be able to attend the Imaging USA conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Three words. It. Was. Awesome. It was another, "It just so happened" story. I joined the Professional Photographers of America in the October. I was paying way too much for my camera insurance and decided to change providers. I found PPA and immediately fell in love. With their membership fee you get camera insurance, and hundreds of free online classes you can take. That was enough to sell me on joining. Then I found out they hold an annual conference, IUSA. It was in Phoenix and I didn't think I would be able to fly out there, but it just so happened it was the day after Dayna's wedding in Los Angeles. When I told Rich, he mentioned that Southwest was running a deal and I could fly from LA to Phoenix for $49. Sold. So Rich and I parted ways in LA. He flew home and I continued on to Phoenix.
When I go there the conference was already going on. So I was able to get on the skyrail which took me to their metro system and I was able to get off right across from my hotel room. I stayed at the Westin and it was baller! I had such a great stay there. I cannot wait to stay at another Westin with Rich.
I headed straight to the Expo after dropping off all my stuff. I was able to hook up with Paul Skipworth. He was paired up with me as part of IUSAs Alumni Program. He was able to walk around with me at the expo and give me some pointers. Paul gave me some great advice. He found out that I was struggling to have confidence in myself and my work and he asked me why I wasn't confident. And I said because I've seen what everyone else is doing and they're better than me. He said they're not better, they just have more experience. What a freeing thought. One day, I too can be that experienced. I have seen growth in my work over the years, and that's progress. One day I will be that experienced, and you can be too!
The expo center was HUGE! I overheard someone say they thought it was smaller than last year, but I don't see how that was possible. There were literally HUNDREDS of vendors!
They had tons of lenses. To say I was a kid in a candy shop would be an understatement. I had to wipe the drool as I admired this glass. In case you were wondering, the camera above is a 5D Mark III.
At the conference, several of the sponsor booths had guest speakers that would talk during the expo. I was able to attend a few good ones on posing, AND I got to meet Laura Winslow! She is a super cool chica who photographs families in Phoenix and she was speaking at the Miller's booth! I've been following her work for about 3ish years. It took me a while to work up the courage to say hello, but I'm glad I did because we totally took selfies together. She spoke about ways to market yourself and your brand. It was such a joy to watch her speak. She was so engaging and encouraging. Laura, you rock! You literally MADE my Imaging USA trip!
I look a little rough in our selfie, but give me credit, I was up at 5 to catch my plane to Phoenix and had no makeup on. ;) Also, yes, those are real succulents at the Millers booth. It was an entire WALL of them. Such great design.
After the first day they had the Welcome party sponsored by Canon! Free food and they had a catwalk that had models walking up and down on it! There were a bunch of photographers taking photos of the models. And, yes, that is a martini glass with mashed potatoes in it. And, yes, I did eat the whole thing. :)
The next day I took an awesome class by Gary Hughes on SEO. Such great info and such an engaging speaker. He was definitely my favorite of all the ones I took. But before I went to his class at 8am, I needed to refuel. So I found this coffee shop called Cartel. They have the BEST mochas! SOOO good! Although I was wired after I had one. I called Rich all buzzed from the massive dose of caffeine.
My last day in Phoenix, I left the expo early to hit The Arrogant Butcher. A local favorite in the area, and it DID NOT DISAPPOINT! They had a charcuterie menu you could order off of with cheeses and meats from all over the world! It was such fun to sit there with my book and just enjoy the scenery around me. I'm such an adult sometimes.
That evening was the Closing Party. It was a little more upscale than the Welcome Party, but it was still fun! Instead of a runway they had these glowing boxes the models stood on for others to take pictures of. If I bought any new gear, it would be the perfect place to try it out.
All-in-all, I had a great time at Imaging USA and cant wait to go next year when it will be in Nashville! I'm so stoked! Rich and I just love Nashville. I'm so glad I went to IUSA. I learned so much and met a bunch of cool new friends. I hope to see and meet some of YOU next year in Nashville!
Were any of you at Imaging USA? What is the #1 photo conference on your list to attend?