The United Conference in Santa Barbara has just come to a close, and I am filled with inspiration, excitement and joy from the speakers and attendees. Everyone at the conference was so passionate about helping and serving each other, and our own communities and clients, it was contagious. I’ve come out of this week with a few things on my mind, and I want you to benefit from them as well, so here they are!
1 - From the Organizers
You can tell from the buzz around the room that this conference is different from all the other ones. At United, you are a part of a family, a group of people with a similar mindset and business goals. Competition is not a part of the vocabulary, instead, it is replaced with community. People going about business and life together, supporting each other and hoping the best for one another. This is a message that comes from the organizers of the United Conference, Shoot and Share.
The main thing that I’ve come out of this conference with from the organizers, is that we are all given gifts that are to be shared and enjoyed with everyone. In this profession we get to use our gifts for the benefit of our clients, and in community with each other we get to use our gifts to encourage and lift up those around us. This is not a new concept, but every once in a while you need a kick in the pants to remind yourself of the importance of sharing your gifts and talents, and being a blessing to the overall community. It’s the difference between being a “Giver” and a “Taker”.
Even if you weren’t at the conference, I believe you can take this little nudge toward community and sharing and you can be the change that needs to happen in your area. Take the time to make your business not about you, and give back to your clients, your community, and those who have helped you get to where you are now. When we make this not about ourselves, but about everyone else, we’re more happy and more able to succeed in business.
2 - From the Speakers
I was so encouraged by the teachers and their topics at United, they were perfectly suited for everyone in attendance, and there was always something amazing going on. One of the main things I’m taking out of this from the speakers is the challenge to be authentic. Mary Marantz talked about Authentic posing by “Cultivating Gesture” instead of instructing a pose. Trevor Dayley inspired us all to be the change in the industry and in our clients lives by being authentic and caring for each other. Almost every session had something to do with getting back to who we are and why we’re doing this, and that is so motivating to hear right before jumping into the busyness of the 2014 wedding season.
There were so many great speakers at United, many of whom are going to be also speaking at WPPI this coming week. If you have the chance, come to these classes at WPPI:
Jeff Jochum - Sunday March 2nd - 3:00PM
Justin & Mary Marantz - Monday March 3rd - 8:30AM
Matt Kennedy - Tuesday March 4th - 8:30AM
Sara France - Tuesday March 4th - 4:00PM
Katelyn James - Tuesday March 4th - 6:30PM
Trevor Dayley - Wednesday March 5th - 8:30AM
Shoot and Share Panel Discussion with Mike Larson, Meg Courtney, Matt Kennedy, Katelyn James - Wednesday March 5th - 3:00PM
3 - From the Attendees
Something that most people don’t expect, until they’ve been to United, is that some of the most beneficial parts of the conference are the relationships that you’ve gained from attending. This is not an anonymous conference where you can hide in a sea of people. You spend lunch and dinner together with small groups of people and you really get to know each other. Even today, two days after the conference has officially ended, I went out for lunch with a couple that I met at the conference. They told me about their favorite parts of the conference, and they also commented that the most valuable part of the whole trip was the relationships they’ve built over their short time here. United is all about community, and this is community in action.
So, the main thing that I’m taking out of this conference from the attendees, and I think you can go with this as well, is that we are stronger together! Competition is not as healthy as community in this business, and we can see that by the success rates of many photographers and photography communities around. I’m inspired to continue to build up our local community, and invest in each other because it will make us all better.
If you have the chance to make it out to United 2015, you’d better take it, hop on a plane and get over here! It will change your business, and more importantly your life.
Photos by Lukas VanDyke