Continuing Education Matters: The Highlights of Photo Native

If you have followed me for any amount of time then you have probably mentioned on occasion that I fully believe in the importance of continued education.

It doesn’t matter what field of business you are in, almost everyone is required to take a certain amount of continuing education credits every year. This is the same for doctors, lawyers, marketing managers, teachers, accountants and almost everyone.

So, why do photographers think they are exempt from this?

I have been in this industry for almost 10 years (what!?) and I STILL make a point to do multiple kinds of learning every single year. Sometimes this looks like hiring a mentor, or attending a workshop or a conference or taking an online class. There are lots and lots of ways to achieve this, the point is, I still prioritize doing it after all these years.

I love watching other people work.

I love learning new tricks.

I love being inspired.

I love making new friends in the industry.

I love seeing the Masters at work.

Earlier this year I attended my first ever Photo Native conference in sunny Santa Barbara. Photo Native is a smaller photography community and I had never been before. And I went ALONE.

Was I terrified? Yep, 100%.

Did I do it anyway? You bet!

Okay, I did need a pep talk from my bestie the morning that the conference started, but after that, I was golden.

It is scary walking into a crowded hotel lobby where everyone is immersed in conversation and you don’t KNOW A SINGLE SOUL.

But then it happened. I recognized a face from the glorious internet. One connection was made and I immediately felt so much better.

This is what happens with workshops and conferences. You are a bundle of nerves until that first small connection is made. Maybe it is a new friend sitting next to you in a break out. Or maybe it is an internet friend you finally get to hug in real life. Or maybe someone recognizes YOU and sparks the conversation. Whatever it is, connections WILL be made. You won’t be alone or feel scared the entire time. If you can be brave for the first morning and just show up with a smile and open mind, you will be golden!

Anyways, there were a lot of highlights from Photo Native. I made new friends. I finally met a long time instagram friend. I was inspired by many- Brooke Schultz, Yan Palmer, John Dolan, Caroline Tran and Jessie Evans. I slept in a room all alone and totally enjoyed the down time.

If I had to pick the biggest highlight from the entire conference, it was taking a shooting session with one of my photography crushes, Clare Barker Wells. AND I won the lottery because I was in her afternoon session which was significantly smaller than the morning session (read: more time with Clare!)

PLUS, I connected and became friends with one of the Moms that we photographed!

Another highlight for me was being brave enough to chat with workshop leaders about wanting to apply to teach myself! Y’all, it definitely took a couple glasses of wine, but I did it. And I was, and still am, so dang proud of myself!

All this to say, just do it. Whether it is a workshop, conference or mentor, buy the ticket. Push past your fear and invest in your education. If you want to be in this industry for the long haul, then you need to make it a priority, show up, be inspired and do the work.

PS: If you want to see what education opportunities I have to offer, I would love for you to take a look around my education shop here.


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