The Photo Creators: A Boutique Conference for Hands-On Learning

Not all conferences are created equal. While I am a big fan of the large conferences, sharing a room with hundreds of people isn't always the best way to learn. So, if you still want to learn from big names such as Lindsey Adler and Joe McNally, but in a small hands-on environment, then The Photo Creators may be what you are looking for. 

The Photo Creators is a small boutique conference with a large emphasis on hands-on learning. The way I like to explain it is in school, you have a giant classroom where you quietly sit and listen to an instructor speak about a topic. While there may be some time at the end to ask questions, it is very rare for everyone to get a chance to be heard. 

Image by Jason Vinson showing 2021 instructor Jen Rozenbaum instructing students

From there, you have labs. In this type of setting, you are getting hands-on with the subject matter. The instructor is walking around and checking on you, seeing your progress, answering your individual questions, and guiding you to the results. 

Image by Roberto Valenzuela, taken at Photo Creators Conference 2021

While The Photo Creators Conference has a bit of that classroom learning, the majority of your time will be spent in more of a lab-type structure. The best part is that you won't be learning from teaching assistants or up-and-coming professionals. You will be learning, hands-on, from some of the industry's leading educators: people like Roberto Valenzuela, Lindsay Adler, Joe McNally, and more. 

Image by The Photo Creators Conference Instructor Joe McNally 

The way they can get you into smaller group sizes is by structuring everyone into rotations. So, over the two full days of learning, you will go through six total rotations. The rotations will consist of learning flash, natural light, strobe, retouching, posing, and printing from people leading the way in each respective field.  

Portfolio Building: Not Portfolio Handouts 

When I think of portfolio building, my mind instantly goes to the little bays you see on a showroom floor, when you walk up you see a model perfectly posed with the lights precisely set up for the most ideal final product. When you walk up, the instructor hands you a little card with the settings you should use on your camera, you take a few pictures, and then you're off to the next bay. For me, this is a portfolio handout. You didn't do any of the work to get the image. It’s essentially paint-by-numbers, but you don't even need to know how to use a paintbrush. When you get home and a client asks you to recreate the image you now have on your website, you won't even know the steps you need to take to get started. 

Image by Jason Vinson while attending The Photo Creators Conference 2021

That's not what you will find at The Photo Creators. Instead, you will find high-end agency models ready to work with you to create your vision. You will then have the industry's best instructors to help instruct you on how to get things set up and dialed in. But you will do the setups. You will do the work needed to create the images. That way, when you get home, you will know what to do for future clients because you have already done it. You learned what to do, how to troubleshoot the issues you ran into, and how to fine-tune things to your desired result.  

More Than Just Rotations

While the conference is based around these six hands-on learning rotations, there is so much more than that to be gathered. For me, the time outside the rotations was just as valuable, such as sitting around the campfire with other industry professionals, bouncing ideas and best practices off one another, or sharing a table with one of the instructors at dinner and getting to talk through battle stories, the things they wished they did, and how they got their first huge clients. 

All these little in-between moments were just as informative and life-changing as the rotations themselves. Getting candid time with people that have helped pave the way for where photography currently stands is very rare to get as an up-and-coming artist. 

Everything Else

I’ve touched on the fact this conference will have some of the best and well-known photographers as instructors. I’ve also talked about how there will be small and hands-on rotations for a much more in-depth learning experience as well as the opportunity to build up your portfolio instead of having one simply handed to you. But if you need more information and want to try and reserve a spot, make sure you check out The Photo Creators website for more details. 

Jason Vinson's picture

Jason Vinson is a wedding and portrait photographer for Vinson Images based out of Bentonville, Arkansas. Ranked one of the Top 100 Wedding photographers in the World, he has a passion for educating and sharing his craft.

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