When one of the ShowIt gurus approached me about UNITED 2013, I figured it’d be pretty similar to any other workshop I’ve attended, just with a lot more people. I assumed it’d be informative and educational, and that I’d probably meet a couple new friends. I figured I’d probably walk away with a few new ideas for my business, and that after 4 days in sunny Santa Barbara, I’d still be the same as I was going into it.

Isn’t it wonderful how wrong we can be sometimes?

Boarding the plane at Dulles International Airport, I had no idea what I was about to walk into. I had no idea I was heading into four days of photographers who love each other selflessly, love their clients with abandon, and give generously for the sake of blessing other people. I didn’t know that walking into the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara was going to result in my heart being completely changed, that despite being completely overwhelmed, I’d leave California more excited than ever.

I’ve experienced that flash of inspiration before as a result of watching an especially riveting workshop on CreativeLive, but it’s always short lived. Sort of like a piece of paper doused in lighter fluid- it’ll burn hot and bright for a couple of minutes, but then the flame goes out and the warmth evaporates. UNITED was different- it felt like, instead of using lighter fluid to create immediate, synthetic results, the very embers of my fire were being stoked. That instead of a flash of heat, life was breathed into the coals of a long burning fire.

Instead of just being equipped with new tricks for posing brides or new marketing ploys, I feel like my heart’s been made anew.

Each and every speaker I had the opportunity to hear was authentic, genuine, and incredibly in love with what they do. There was no venom spewed about “the state of the industry,” no time wasted on tearing anyone or anything down- instead, they shared their philosophies, their governing principles, their WHY behind what they do. It was uplifting, encouraging, life-giving. And even though this wasn’t a “Christian” conference, I could feel the Gospel emanating from nearly everyone that took the stage. I felt overwhelmed at the end of each day, overwhelmed from the sheer amount of HEART that had been shared with me throughout every session, every conversation, and every new friend I made.

I went to UNITED thinking I’d be sharing with others on the panel I was asked to be a part of, and thinking I’d have the chance to be part of a couple of AWESOME shoots on the beach. I had no idea my heart would be wrung out like a sponge, and then re-saturated with only the best lessons and advice from some of the best in the industry. I am so very, very thankful for last week, for the ShowIt staff who made the entire event a possibility, for the speakers that bared their flaws for us to learn from, and for the new friends I was blessed with along the way. Last week was a game changer for me, and I’m already getting excited for UNITED 2014.

And because I would be remiss to write such a heartfelt blog post without including images, here are a few shots from the various styled shoots, speakers, and random photo frolicking last week. More to come once I receive my film scans :).

California wedding photographer- Abby Grace Photography

Kenny Kim, Josh Newton & Jeremy Kester on the “Serving Your Way To Success” panel.

California wedding photographer- Abby Grace Photography

Boho bridal shoot on the beach at sunset.

California wedding photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyCalifornia wedding photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyCalifornia wedding photographer- Abby Grace Photography

Liz & Ryan, two of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet!

California wedding photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyCalifornia wedding photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyCalifornia wedding photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyThe beautiful miss Jen Jar of Jen & Ashley Photography.
California wedding photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyCalifornia wedding photographer- Abby Grace Photography

Katelyn’s flo-po class! (“Flow Posing” > flo-po).

California wedding photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyCalifornia wedding photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyCalifornia wedding photographer- Abby Grace Photography

Lukas & Suzy are adorable. I met them at UNITED and I LOVE THEM.

California wedding photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyCalifornia wedding photographer- Abby Grace Photography

Justin Marantz, I’m envious of that Rolleiflex.

California wedding photographer- Abby Grace Photography

Night time cigar shoot by Trevor Dayley– I learned so much!

California wedding photographer- Abby Grace Photography

The beautiful miss Mary Marantz ROCKED IT OUT as the final keynote speaker. I’ve heard Mary speak several times, but last week was easily the best.

California wedding photographer- Abby Grace Photography

I was SO excited about this shoot- Mike Larson is an incredible California photographer, specializing in private estate and vineyard soirees. He hosted a couple of shoots throughout the week and I knew I had to be at one of them, and it just so happened to be the one that Lukas & Suzy were modeling for! This particular estate, Villa Sevillano, mande me feel like I’d died and gone to California heaven.

California wedding photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyCalifornia wedding photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyCalifornia wedding photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyCalifornia wedding photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyCalifornia wedding photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyCalifornia wedding photographer- Abby Grace PhotographyCalifornia wedding photographer- Abby Grace Photography

Happy Tuesday!

UNITED 2013- so much more than just a conference

March 5, 2013

  1. Anna Kerns says:

    So much GORGEOUSNESS! I am so excited for you that it was such a game changing experience! I’m sure it’ll make 2013 even stronger and your best year yet!

  2. Erica says:

    Looked like a fabulous time! Happy you got so much out of United. That sunset shoot is ah-mazing!

  3. Eeeeekkkkk! Love hearing about your experience & seeing it thru your eyes! I hope to go next year so this has gotten me even more excited 😉

  4. Mandy Naylor says:

    Awesome awesome awesome Abby! I should’ve gone to this hahaha

  5. Allie says:

    What a beautiful post, Abby!! I love, love, love the photos and now I’m really interested in United 2014:)

  6. Emilia Jane says:

    “the very embers of my fire were being stoked” YES and AMEN!

  7. Karen Field says:

    Wow! I had not idea this was such a terrific time for you! Congratulations on being asked to go there. I want to hear about the friends you made. You are always so willing to grow and grow. Proud of you my daughter!

  8. Rebekah Hoyt says:

    Amazing!! I’m so glad it was a wonderful experience for you!! These images are all SO good – I can’t wait to see your film scans!!

  9. Jen Jar says:

    YAYYY!!! So incredibly happy to have been your roomie for this amazing experience! 🙂

  10. Ah love this! United ended up being more than I think any of us thought it could be. Love hearing your view of those 4 days!!!

  11. Nadia says:

    Soooo jealous :))) Hope to be at UNITED next year 🙂
    but so excited to go to the WPPI this year for the first time!
    From the pictures this looks like such a wonderfully blessed time!
    xo
    Nadia

  12. Josh Newton says:

    Love this post!! You’re such a great writer, loved hanging out with you 🙂

  13. Uhhhh those pictures of Jen are AMAZING Abby- that is how I know my business partner and friend! Full of smiles – she’s gorgeous! 🙂

  14. oh my goodness your images from UNITED are stunning. just stunning.

  15. Meg Courtney says:

    This post made me smile… so great meeting you and getting to know you!! I feel the same way, it was an experience that is almost indescribable! <3 Way to rock it, girl ~ love the images too!

  16. Beautiful post, Abby!! So eloquent and just really painted the exact picture of how lovely and awe-inspiring UNITED was. It was so nice to meet you last week! You rock!

  17. Rhema Peterson says:

    ahh our hearts felt the same! I am so glad we connected! Thank you for being open, honest and genuine! I love the way you described the flame having life breathed into it. My heart resonates that for sure!

  18. Jean says:

    Beautiful pictures! What a great opportunity for you and the other photographers! So proud of my granddaughter!

  19. Loved living vicariously through this post! Beautiful! And some of my favorite people are in this post! 🙂

  20. Abby, I love hearing about your experience of United 2013 and the images that followed were beautiful. You have a sweet way of capturing beauty and love and it comes out in your work and quite frankly just who you are! I enjoyed meeting you at united and look forward to serving together as we pursue those things that bring us joy! Love to you sweet girl!!!

  21. Liz and Ryan says:

    Abby! This post is beautiful! Love everything about it! Thank you so much for being a part of our United experience and being there to support us! We appreciate it so much!!!! So grateful we all had this opportunity to grow and share in such a magical way!

  22. Suzy VanDyke says:

    Ohhhh I love this so much. I am SO thankful to have met you and Lukas and I loved hanging out with you Abby! Your joy and excitement is just contagious. Thank you for the gorgeous photos of us too!!! Cannot wait to hang with you again! <3 !

  23. priscilla says:

    so awesome this blog post and i love the images you captured!

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