by Skip Cohen
"Thrive" and WPPI are right around the corner. A lot of you will be there as well as at other conventions and trade shows in the weeks ahead. Conventions are an amazing way for you to build your skill set, but you need to get the very most out of every trip. Time is the one thing you don't have enough of and can't waste.
Let’s just talk about why you need to get yourself to the next convention.
New Products: Being a great photographer is an ongoing process. You need to understand all the changes in technology, while developing your own style and technique. Since this past September was Photokina, (the largest photographic event in the world every two years) most of the major manufacturers have new products to show. That means you’ve got a chance to catch up on everything that’s new, especially in terms of hardware and software.
Diversity In Your Skill Set: Every convention offers a variety of workshops to help you fine-tune your craft. Here’s your chance to add a few new techniques to your bag of tricks. Try and get to the various programs you choose a little early and then make it a point to meet the speaker as well.
Marketing and Business: Most conventions offer at least a program or two on the business and marketing side. What good is creating the finest images of your life if nobody knows who you are? Here’s your opportunity to pick up ideas on how to promote your work and your business.
Print Competition: If the trade show you’re attending offers print competition make it a point to walk through the gallery of winners. Looking at all of this outstanding work will help you stay on top of what’s hot in composition, lighting, printing and presentation. And, if judging is open to the public, find some time to sit in and listen to the judge’s comments. You’ll find the process a remarkable addition to your ongoing education.
Network, Network, Network: This may well be the most important reason to attend any event where there are a lot of photographers! You need to build your network and meet other photographers who are dealing with the same challenges you have in your own community. At every program you attend make it a point to talk to the people around you. You’ll be amazed at how much you have in common!
Working the Trade Show: I’ve actually done complete posts about just this topic alone, but essentially hit the trade show with a plan. Start out be thinking through what you need the most in your own business. Do you need new gear? Are you in need of better backdrops, lighting, props? Maybe you need help with your workflow. The list could go on and on, but the point here is to follow through online before going to the trade show, so you know who the exhibitors are and where their booths are located.
Start in one aisle and literally do your best to walk the entire show. If you make a list in advance of the companies you want to make sure you don’t miss, they’ll come up in your travels regardless.
Take a Camera! All you need is a decent point and shoot or these days a phone with a good camera. You never know when you’re going to want to grab a few shots of you interacting with one of the vendors for your own press releases when you get back.
And one last BIG reason...join us at Thrive, a day and a half workshop March 8-9 and the first program of the launch of the full SCU series. Next program coming up is our summer session, August 11-14 in Chicago. More announcements coming in the next few weeks.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.