Conference season is right around the corner, and I’ve been inundated with numerous ads and social media posts about them. It got me thinking about how I decide which conferences or workshops I attend and why. When I first started investing in workshops and conferences, I was wondering if it would really be worth it. They can be so expensive, plus its time away from home and work. But I believed then and I believe now that investing in your business and your education is worth its weight in gold, especially if you choose the right one for you.
- There are so many workshops and conferences, how do I ever decide? I have always based my decisions on my business goals for that year. Do I need to improve a technique I’m struggling with? Do I need posing help? Do I need to meet more people in my industry? Many conferences have lots of classes and instructors to choose from, provide a great opportunity for networking and get you in front of photography vendors. I love attending conferences for all of these things. If you feel like you can use help and feedback on a variety of topics, or you need a get-away with like-minded professionals, then a conference may be the best choice for you. Out of the many to choose from, I suggest you look at the dates, location, and teacher line-up to determine if it’s the right fit for you. A wedding photographer may very well choose an entirely different conference than a family photographer. Alternatively, the workshops I have been to typically focus on one niche but for a longer period of time, providing for more in-depth learning and mastery of a subject. They are usually done in smaller groups with 1-5 instructors. Regardless of what choice is best for you, know that you will come home extremely inspired and motivated!
- Once you’ve decided which workshop or conference you will attend, what should you bring? The first couple workshops/conferences I attended, I packed way too much. I wanted to be ready for everything – ha! But then my camera bag was really heavy and digging into my shoulder the whole time. My back hurt. My feet hurt. I didn’t bring the right shoes for walking around all day. I pack light now. Another bonus: I can carry on my bag that may have a few camera essentials in there I wouldn’t want to check. My go-to list is the following:
- comfortable shoes
- clothes you can shoot in but that you also love
- outfit for a fun night out
- 1 camera body, 1-2 lenses (depending on what hands-on class you are taking), film or SanDisk card, light meter, flash, more film
- little notebook and pen for jotting down things
- business cards
3. Now that you’re all packed, you may be wondering what are some important do’s and don’ts for conference attendance? First and foremost, make sure you’re well-rested and ready to go. Both workshops and conferences typically involve full schedules, with lots of networking and running from activity to activity. There isn’t much downtime. You will be tired. Make sure you know your schedule and where to go. Have fun! Make friends! Do a headshot swap! Schedule some open time, too, to get off your feet, relax, and let your brain process everything you’ve taken in so far. Last but not least, when I get home (or even on the plane), I reflect on what I just experienced and learned. I prioritize what changes/goals I have for my business or personal work. Besides coming back with new friends and knowledge, with actionable steps, you will be able to turn your experience into something that will benefit you and your business moving forward.
I hope this post was helpful to you in figuring out what conferences or workshops best suit your business needs and goals! Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions by commenting below. And if you have valuable information to share with others, plan and host your own workshop! Eventbrite has a great tool to make the planning process easy for you.