Last month I attended a conference geared toward portrait and wedding photography. Why in the world would someone that shoots neither of those want to attend such an event? Yeah, that's a question I was asking myself too at the time. I was a lucky winner of an event pass (thanks Sarah Jane from Box Drops), had friends that I've known for years attending so I had a room to crash in (but had never met in person...long story), and it was within driving distance. Why not go? What did I have to lose by traveling to St. Louis for a few days?
Shutterfest put on by the charismatic Sal Cincotta of Salcincotta.com and his helpers really exceeded my expectations. I assumed I would feel like a fish out of water (like how that ties in to the title?), having nothing to shoot, nothing really to learn, and nothing to do but socialize as best I could. Well, it exceeded my expectations...and then some. First off Sal brought in teachers of all things photography, not just portraiture, so there was plenty for me to learn about photography and about photo processing. I took an off camera flash lighting class from Michael Corsentino of Corsentino Photography that has applications to way more than portraiture, and I absorbed those lessons for future use. He really opened up my mind to the principles of using OCF amongst other lighting. I will be using these principles in the future as I take my photography journey. I also took two photoshop classes from the awesome Aaron Nace of Phlearn.com whose relaxed teaching style was just perfect for me. You'd think sitting for hours watching to someone edit photos and talk about what they're doing could be boring...nope, not in the least. A real pleasure to meet Aaron and learn from him.
Aside from the classes, there was the opportunity to shoot with models. Now, most of the photographers were all over this as evidenced by the various shoots going on all around Union Station hotel. With such a great venue, why not? But not being a portrait person, this really wasn't a high priority for me. The exception for me was getting the opportunity to shoot my friend Marisol's daughter. A highlight of the conference for me for sure! I couldn't resist snapping a few photos.
My main impetus for attending was getting to meet (in person) and hang out with some of my dearest friends that I met through a scrapbooking site on the photography boards. They are a group of really talented photographers, many running businesses. It wasn't like hanging out with people I've never met before...it was like hanging out with old friends. We've been interacting for years first on Two Peas in a Bucket and then in our own Facebook group. We've been through a lot together and it was amazing to get to meet them in person and share this time.
So what does a non-portrait photographer shoot at Shutterfest? Well, pretty much anything but people of course. I tried my hand at some macro and scenic shots of the beautiful Union Station and a few snaps here and there. I definitely didn't fit the norm of the Shutterfest attendee and probably shot things that nobody else was shooting (at least not without a person as the focus), but that's OK. It really was a way for me to fall back in love with my camera and with photography. I've been a bit burnt out and uninspired lately, and this was the perfect atmosphere for that shove back into finding my photographic voice again. I can't wait for next year. Who knows...I may even shoot people next time. ;-)