This week I had the pleasure of spending several days seeing old friends, meeting new friends, and learning more than my brain can handle at Shutterfest 2016. For those who don’t know, Shutterfest is unlike any other photography conference out there! They combine education from some of the best photographers in the industry with an incredible opportunity to photograph the several hundred models they bring in.
As a photographer and photography instructor, it goes without saying that I strongly value education. This field is moving so quickly and people are innovating in such creative ways that I either have to keep up with it or get lost in the crowd. Charlie Jones said “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” I go to these conferences to build relationships with the top leaders in the photography industry and to learn whatever little nugget of wisdom they have to share.
For some people, going to Shutterfest is all about photographing insanely talented models in gorgeous settings. For others, it’s all about getting that classroom learning to help them through whatever hurdle they are facing. For me, Shutterfest is all about the networking. The great thing about this conference in particular is that the speakers are all so approachable and available. I ended up having breakfast one morning with one of the leading commercial photographers in the world simply because we were both heading to the same place and happened to strike up a conversation. I met one of the leading pinup and boudoir photographers in the bar simply because he was talking about his dogs and I joined the conversation (I didn’t even realize who he was until I googled his name later). These aren’t random and fleeting encounters, either. These are relationships that I have begin to grow and nourish. We all need someone we can ask questions of and bounce ideas around with, and these have become my people.
So, why am I writing this rambling blog post anyway? First, to thank Salvatore Cincotta for having the insight and dedication to create such an incredible conference. Second, to reinforce on everyone, no matter what your profession, the value of building relationships and networking. Remember: we are all colleagues, not competitors!