At least once a year I set aside time in my calendar for in-person professional development opportunities but I’ve realized that I don’t blog about or share the experiences because when I come home I’m often overwhelmed by all the ideas and instead of sharing my experience I tend to dig right in and start planning for new sessions or working on improving my skills.

Earlier this year I sent out an extensive survey to current, previous, and prospective clients and one request that came up several times was that people wanted to hear more about the classes and workshops that I take to further my own growth as a photographer and business owner.  Thanks to those individuals who took to fill out the survey, I present you with my post-conference and workshop updates on my experiences in Montreal in May and the three days I spent in Niagara-on-the-Lake at the Uncommon Creative Conference!

This May I spent two days in Montreal with Erin Elizabeth Photography and Glow Portraits.  I have been following both of these talented women on social media for several years now and have taken online video workshops with both, which is why I was thrilled when they paired up to teach a newborn and maternity workshop together only 2 hours from where I live.  Because my best friends’ twins arrived just a week before the workshop, I didn’t share my experience or any of the images because, to be honest, I was too busy cuddling babies and spending time with her and her girl.  Thanks to Erin and Alli I was able to fine-tune my studio lighting set-ups as well as improve my newborn posing work flow in the studio.  I’m always looking for ways to get more variety for my clients during sessions and the hands on practice working with both maternity and newborn models really helped me to see where there were opportunities during my sessions to introduce new poses and different light, which drastically alters the look of the images without having to constantly re-pose babies or expectant moms.

This September I made the 6 hour trek to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the Uncommon Creative Conference.  As I made the windy drive through Toronto, Hamilton, and St. Catharines I had no idea about the tornado back in Ottawa and was shocked when I arrived at the hotel to see the devastation I had left behind.

One of the things I enjoy the most about conferences and workshops is being surrounded by photographers who are as excited about learning as I am.  Even though my business is nearly 8 years old I love that there is always opportunities for improving my skills and offering my clients an even better session experience.  I find that when I travel to these events I leave behind all the busy-ness of home, which allows me to focus 100% on my business and photography.  On Friday evening I had the chance to explore beautiful downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Enjoying your surroundings and exploring quaint shops is definitely a different experience when you’re not patrolling three boys!

The conference started with breakfast at 7 am on Saturday morning and we attended classes and keynotes for the following three days.  I took classes in Newborn prop posing, Newborn beanbag posing, Outdoor maternity posing and lighting, family photography, and whimsical child photography sessions.

I also attended keynotes on newborn physiology, redefining success for photographers, nurturing your creativity, redefining busy, and the highs and lows of working in the photography industry.

Because I dedicate several days throughout the year to professional development I’ve come up with a strategy for classes and workshops that works well for me.  As I take notes I also have a separate page where I write down “to do” items for my business.  I find that re-visiting my notes ensures that the learning “sticks” but having a separate list of action items ensures that when I return home I can put an action plan into place for all the improvements or changes I want to make.  My “to do” list for session workflows, model calls, session booking processes, and creative sessions now goes all the way into February of 2019!  I’m always looking for inspiration, ways to improve my lighting and posing, as well as how I can make my session experience an amazing one for all my clients.  I learned so much from the instructors and keynote speakers and am grateful that they shared their knowledge and experience so openly and honestly with all of us.

The highlight of the conference was getting the chance to learn from photographers that I admire and respect as well as feeling incredibly inspired, and humbled, by the work that I’ve chosen to do.  

At the conference gala on Sunday evening I was thrilled to find out that my image “Your Eyes Speak the Truth” won first place in one of five categories at the Uncommon Creative Conference image competition. I have spent many hours in the studio over the course of the past year experimenting with different studio lights and am excited not only by the results of that hard work but also the possibilities of what’s to come!