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Imaging, USA – San Antonio, Texas

Imaging USA was the first major photography convention that I’ve ever attended.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  I chose to go mainly so that I could take my CPP exam and attend the portfolio reviews that were offered.  I came away with so much more than I bargained for.

I had downloaded the list of speakers in advance and combed through the schedule outlining the programs that sounded most interesting or relevant to my business.  One I was particularly excited about was Jennifer Hudson‘s “The Handmade Life”.  It did not disappoint.  Seriously, I could say Jennifer may have changed everything for me.  Her talk was all about finding the inspiration in your life to apply it to your work.  I know art when I see it and I have a high appreciation for most of it, but I never really thought about breaking down the pieces I love and figuring out “why”.  Her presentation showed some of the artists work that she admires and then broke it down to show the elements she was gravitating toward and how she then applied those parts to her work.  You know, figure out what you love and then find your own style.  Seems pretty basic, really, but I hadn’t ever heard it quite in the way she said it.  Jennifer’s work is all about being more creative with less stuff – simple is powerful.

Those of you that know me are probably aware that I am a bit of a jack of all trades – master of none.  I’m also a gadget girl and tend to covet the latest and greatest even if I don’t quite know what to do with it yet.  I’ve always struggled with mediocrity.  “Just do my assignment” became my mantra.  Not that I wanted it that way, just that it was easier and faster and I had the tools to do it.  It’s that “try to please everyone” gene I inherited.  Right before I went to the conference I said to my husband that things were going to change.  I was going to hone in on my style, claim my specialties and become more creative.  I was going to put myself out there and find out what I really can do and not shy away from the challenges that I may face.  Explore some of the artistic avenues that I’ve always been curious about but too afraid to try because of fear that I may mess it up. Just saying it out loud somehow made it more real.  So I went to the conference jazzed up and ready to explore.

Jennifer’s philosophy fell right in line with my new plan.  She has taken a step towards fine art with her photography.  A focus on art and antique processes from the golden days of photography has lead her back into feeling creative and keeping her work interesting and inspirational to her.  A way to set herself apart and keep from burning out.  “If it’s for everyone, it’s not art.”

It wasn’t all deep, soul searching topics.  It’s just that I got exactly what I wanted from the conference from just that one presentation.  Justification to explore and be and become.  The proof that it’s not impossible to put yourself out there, create for yourself as much as your clients and still run a successful business.

Whew!  That was just one day.  I spent three full days at the conference and attended so many more presentations.  Everything from branding, sales, album design, pricing, networking, business planning, lighting, editing, posing, etc. was covered.  Not to mention the fun parties and HUGE trade show offering all the new and exciting gear and products.

My portfolio reviews went well and I made it through the CPP exam.  I won’t find out if I passed for another couple of weeks, but I’m hopeful that I did okay.  If I didn’t pass, it will only be a question or two that I missed.  I felt pretty confident that I knew the majority of the questions.  Even if the results aren’t as expected, I learned so much – especially that the certification is just another part of the process.

I didn’t have much of a chance to explore San Antonio.  In fact, I never even made it to the Alamo which was only a couple of blocks away.  I did get to walk the pretty Riverwalk to and from the convention center every day and saw that it was always bustling with activity from the bars and restaurants to the tacky souvenir shops along the way.  A special highlight of the city was meeting up with a friend of mine from High School (whom I hadn’t seen in 20 years!).  It was a truly last minute discovery that we were going to be in the same city (gotta love Facebook!) and the perfect twist that we were able to get our timing to line up.  I had some free time just before my test, so Janelle came to pick me up and take me to lunch at one of her favorite Mexican restaurants.  It was so much fun to hear all about her family and life’s adventures so far.  We spent a couple of hours catching up and sharing laughs and the time just flew by.

Truly, the whole event just flew by.  I’m attending another big conference later this month and now that I know what to expect, I am even more excited to go.  I’m already bursting at the seams with information and haven’t had much time to digest it all, but I’m always ready for more.  I just have to remember to schedule a little time in my day to get this all out of my head and into a game plan.  Look out – there’s gonna be some changes around here!

admin - February 8, 2011 - 6:23 am

Christie, I just popped over and left a comment on your post. I loved reading about your experiences as well. It feels so good to be inspired again, doesn’t it?! Now, to just narrow down all of the ideas…:) Maybe I’ll get to meet you at one of Jennifer’s workshops sometime?!

admin - February 8, 2011 - 6:21 am

Thank you Greta! It was a great experience and fun to visit your home state! (I peeked at your blog and will definitely visit again:) I saw you passed your CPP – congratulations! I just found out I did too. On to the Image Submission!!

Christie Stockstill - February 7, 2011 - 8:57 pm

When I got home from Imaging, I wrote a blog post very similar in tone and content to this one! Jennifer Hudson and Joyce Wilson have definitely impacted big changes in my photography. Thanks for sharing.

Greta - February 2, 2011 - 12:09 pm

Thank you for sharing! Your experience mirrored mine in many ways. You expressed it beautifully!

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