Intro by Skip Cohen
This is a prime example of the fun of social media - making the world a smaller place. Just a few months ago French photographer, Pierre Lambert contacted me on an IM and we talked about ShutterFest. I asked him if he wanted to do a guest post. I love what he wrote.
I've been involved in Shutter Magazine and ShutterFest from the very beginning and what Sal and Taylor Cincotta and their team built is far more than just a great magazine and convention. They built a community! They even created a troll-less Facebook group where photographers help each other and aren't afraid to share ideas on marketing, technique and ways to grow their business.
ShutterFest 2016 is going to be pretty remarkable. As the team adds more great programs and components, it's becoming one of the most attendee-centric conventions in photography!
See you in St. Louis in 2016...along with Pierre...and check out Pierre's site for more images and information about his photography in Europe.
by Pierre T. Lambert
Traveling has always been exciting to me and even more when it is for photography.
About a year ago I fell into Sal Cincotta’s vortex after watching one of his Creative Live classes. Whether you like what he does or not, it is difficult to stay indifferent to him. In my case I really appreciated his very direct way of speaking. From there I discovered Shutter Magazine, attended one of his workshops in London and starting hearing about “ShutterFest”.
All the way to Paris that event sounded really intriguing. They advertised that it was going to be like no other conference. The fact that there would be a lot of shooting involved & classes to attend made it really appealing to me, eager to learn more. So there I was getting a ticket months in advance, (which was really cheap at the time for Europeans with the exchange rate).but not totally sure I would actually be going.
Since I had my ticket, I joined the ShutterFest Facebook group and then my mind was blown away… the community of people in this group was incredible! So many people were asking sound questions about every aspect of photography (business, technique…) and people were helping each other. In this little world of photographers there were actually people not trying to keep their success a secret recipe!
The event has become THE event for photography. So much so, that I ended up extending my trip to shoot, visit friends in LA & Chicago and even discover Vegas. I was also one of the first two photographers to come from Europe, one from Germany & me from France.
The event started blowing my mind as soon as I arrived. Photographers were already shooting with models everywhere and the event hadn’t officially started. People were coming from everywhere in the US, which surprised me, being European. I know how big the US really is. I mean if you were coming from California all the way to Saint Louis it was further than going from Paris to the other end of Europe in Istanbul.
It was incredible being able to actually meet in person, photographers who I had only known through social media in the Facebook group. Apparently people could tell from my accent that I was from France and it ended up creating a lot of fun situations.
To improve your skills and propose different things to your clients you have to step out of your comfort zone, learn more and be open to new experiences. ShutterFest was amazing in making that happen. Seeing what happens on the other side of the Atlantic was great. I've taken some ideas and brought them home to my own market.
Education at the event was remarkable and what was even better was seeing the instructors having as much fun as the “students," often shooting outside of their classes with other photographers. I keep thinking how amazing that would be to have the event held in Paris and all the crazy shots that would come out of it.
What really impressed me was seeing all those models at the event, allowing the photographers to be super creative. It was like a giant amusement park for photographers: renting lenses for free, shooting taking place everywhere, instructors and experienced photographers helping out others and quality vendors to make your life better.
What Sal’s small team (8 people) pulled together is incredible. I've never experienced this sense of community and support to one another on this scale before. And, from some of the veterans I met, they confirmed my feelings.
It was a long trip from Paris, but without regret I can say this was worth every cent. I came out of it with new photographer friends, killer shots, new techniques and more knowledge. I'll be there next year!
By the way, just a side bar on the differences in our markets: One big thing I noticed is the huge discrepancy between the US market for weddings and the market in France - the average in the US is $24,000 spent overall on the wedding compared to the 12K euros ($13,000) here.
I can't wait for the 2016 convention - See you at ShutterFest next April!
All images copyright Pierre T. Lambert and taken during ShutterFest. All rights reserved.