“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” This quote from Ronald E. Osborn explains why we photographers should never stop learning, and one of the quickest ways to sharpen our skills and rediscover our passion is by attending photography conferences.
We are so fortunate to live in a country that has many photography conferences to go to. There are major annual conventions for portrait and wedding photographers such as WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International) and Imaging USA; PhotoPlus International Expo to discover the latest in photography, video and digital imaging; PMA International Convention and Trade Show to get a first-hand experience in the newest model of cameras, photo equipment, and digital imaging software. There are also many local conferences and workshops held by various organizations and renowned photographers by roadshows across the states to educate amateur and professional photographers.
Any photographer would agree that photography is beyond owning a nice camera and an ultra-sharp lens. It's about seeing the world through our eyes. We capture whatever that catches our attention or moves us, whether it's an extreme close-up of the blossom flower petals, the satisfying look of a child eating an ice cream bar, a majestic landscape painted in dramatic light, or intriguing patterns we encounter on the street. Photography is about our vision and passion captured on film or digitally.
There are many benefits to attend photography conferences. Below is a list of top seven reasons and tricks:
1. Attend workshops.
For those who just want to spend a day exploring the exhibits in major photo conventions, they can easily spend a day or two wandering from booth to booth to see the latest products. For the serious learners, attending the workshops is the best way to learn in short amount of time. I remember there was a time that I spent a whole semester at school to learn what I learned in two hours at a workshop.
Established professionals can learn from photography experts on the latest trends in shooting style, gain marketing insights, and tools for running a business. Amateurs can learn from renowned photographers on various topics such as choosing the right equipment, how to setup lighting by using flash and continuous light, effective ways in choosing your subject and background, etc. in short amount of time.
2. Touch and feel new toys.
Camera enthusiast can get a hand on experience with the latest photo equipment and technology, and ask representatives questions about products and features. While reading about the products online can be useful, there's nothing compared to the excitement in actually touching and playing with the new toys.
3. Get inspired (again).
Every time I attend a photography conference, I got so inspired that I wanted to try something new immediately. It could be a new marketing idea, developing a new style to shoot, or trying out a new trick to generate more income.
4. Meet new fellow photographers.
Almost all conference attendees are photographers and share the same enthusiasm. Don't be shy to introduce yourself and ask questions. Chances are the person you meet is already familiar with the camera on your bucket list and can give you honest opinions.
5. Win products from by listening to mini seminars.
Many companies reward those attendees who sat through the end of the presentation by raffle ticket drawings. I've personally won an Adobe software that worth $700 while learning some new tricks from the speaker.
6. Bring your camera and lenses to major photo conventions.
Camera makers showcase their latest products at major conventions such as Imaging USA and WPPI. They usually have onsite technicians who can fine tune your camera and lenses at no charge.
7. Do a quick walkthrough to find the best free seminars.
Many big brand companies such as Nikon, Canon, Adobe, etc. invite renowned photography leaders to speak on their specialty. The complimentary mini seminars are usually 30 minutes to an hour long throughout the entire convention. Take a quick walk through the expo hall and write down the seminars that interest you and go back when the time starts.
8. Buy stuff and save money
This is actually my biggest reason to go to a photo convention. You can always expect show specials and discounts when you buy from the exhibitors during the conventions. The savings alone usually paid for my travel expenses and considerably more.