As most things seem to now have moved over to online platforms, I have most definitely wondered if we still need in-person photography conferences. Last week, I attended the Way Up North conference in Rome. When I get the chance to, I love to attend other wedding photography conferences. Yes, the talks can be super inspiring. Shout out to my girl Rebecca Carpenter who spoke at this one and utterly nailed it – I was the Kris to her Kim, cheering on from the audience. But more than getting an inspiration fix, it’s the experiences that you have with other people there that create bonds that simply cannot be forged in online spaces. So for me, yes we very much still need photography conferences.
By the end of the first day at this year’s conference, I started to get messages like this –
“I arrived feeling lost, tired, very lonely, and questioning if this was going to be the job for me. I left Thrive so happy, so refreshed, revived, and excited again”.
There is a magic that happens at our conference that cannot be replicated in a digital space, it can only happen in a room. Once people realise that they do fit in, that everyone is scared, they let down their guard and they participate.
They take what they need and that’s different for everyone. The conference is like a transmission but it is up to the individual what they choose to receive.
So I’ve opened up ticket sales for next year. At this stage, I have not announced any speakers, venues, or topics but another magical thing is happening and that is people are buying it. I woke up this morning to a lovely little flurry of tickets sales from photographers that attended this year and some that didn’t. It is extraordinary. It’s made me understand that it’s not a lineup that people buy into, it’s the shared experience.
Many of this year’s attendees made new friendships. They have group chats on the go and they are arranging to meet up. These bonds will go far beyond the two days they spent together at the conference and when times get tough like we all know that they can, these will be the people that support each other.
I’m already getting messages and Instagram stories from photographers out at weddings shooting with their newfound skills. It’s the shot of inspiration that we all need as we go into another uncertain season. It’s so heartwarming to see and I need to refer back to these when the planning gets tough. Which I know it will, I also know of some other conferences that haven’t survived this last couple of years.
I’m not surprised. It was extremely challenging to deliver Thrive 2022. But as I open up the spreadsheets again, I am thinking about the next set of attendees and how I can make Thrive 2023 just as wonderful as this year’s.
So, who would you like to see presenting at it?
Images : Jessica Bevan Photography