When I signed up for Seniorologie’s Conference 12 I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew that I had several photographer friends that had attended various conferences and they had encouraged me to find one that I felt vibed with me, so I searched and saw so many options. When I found Co12 I could tell that it would be right up my alley and I was obsessed with the speaker line-up, so I decided to make the investment, which is not something I do for myself regularly.
Going in, I was incredibly nervous. I’ve always been a bit “stranger danger” when it comes to new social situations – although my close friends would call me a social butterfly, I do a really great job at faking through the anxiety. The first night, I went up to a group of women and introduced myself – “Are y’all part of the conference? Can I sit with you? [insert major nervous ramblings here]” I was met with warm smiles and “Absolutely! Join us!” As I introduced myself and started learning names I realized that out of the entire place I had somehow landed myself at the table with all of the speakers for the conference. Super typical of me, y’all. It was really great though – I felt welcome and was glad to start putting faces with the names I had seen a thousand times in my Instagram feed.
Day one was super overwhelming for me. Like I said, I didn’t really know what to expect, so when I started crying real tears within the first few minutes of Brittni Schroeder’s “Finding Joy in Your Art” presentation I was surprised, but I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
For the last two years, I’ve focused so much on building a business, paying the bills, making the numbers work, and really learning how to operate as a small business in a small town. I’ve had my head down so much that I forgot how I started – as a mom with a camera who just really wanted to take “good pictures” of her kids. As I sat there, listening to Brittni talk about her journey I started doing the math on the last time I actually had my big-girl camera in front of my kids. When was the last time I took my camera out to do something for fun or to have a session with my own family? Two years. Two years had gone by without a single shutter click. Sure, I’ve worked hard and have been incredibly busy and have built a wonderful business in that time, but at the end of the day I wasn’t doing what I set out to do in the first place. I wasn’t capturing the moments of the people I love most. I wasn’t shooting for FUN anymore. Absolutely – I love my job, and I wouldn’t’ trade it for anything. It is SO much fun and I have a great time with all of my seniors and their families, but it had been so long since I had really just done a photo shoot for the fun of it that I couldn’t even remember what that felt like.
The next two days were full of information and new friendship. Learning new ways to streamline processes, learning about posing techniques and getting to shoot with gorgeous models in amazingly styled wardrobes, having great conversation, learning about what I was doing right and what could use some work… My brain was absolutely full of information by the time the conference wrapped and I was thankful for the 7-hour drive back to Nashville to decompress.
This conference opened my eyes to a lot of things, and I will forever be grateful. When I say that it was life-changing I don’t say it lightly. I learned so much about myself during that weekend that I will take away and use in my business and in my personal life as well. I saw speakers who weren’t afraid to just be themselves, who weren’t afraid to get outside the box, who made no apologies for their art and who regularly took their camera out to shoot for fun – for the love of the art itself. For the first time in a long time I felt inspired and I ready to get out of my box and to call myself an artist and cultivate that inside myself.
Oh – And the day after I got home, I put my kids in front of my camera and created some of my most favorite images I’ve ever taken of them.
Thanks Co12 for the inspiration, and for the kick in the right direction.