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 :).
Boho bridal shoot on the beach at sunset.
Liz & Ryan, two of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet!
The beautiful miss Jen Jar of Jen & Ashley Photography.
Katelyn’s flo-po class! (“Flow Posing” > flo-po).
Lukas & Suzy are adorable. I met them at UNITED and I LOVE THEM.
Justin Marantz, I’m envious of that Rolleiflex.
Night time cigar shoot by Trevor Dayley– I learned so much!
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.
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.