Sometimes I have to stop, give myself a shake, and just reflect on how absolute blessed/lucky/fortunate I am to have this life that I do. My work has taken me all over the world, and though sometimes I do get a bit tired and wish for the peace of a week spent at home, I wouldn’t trade this season of life for anything. From the lessons I’ve learned to the people I’ve been befriended by, to the late night talks and the hundreds of laughs, it’s been absolutely worth the resulting exhaustion.
Two weeks ago, I was in Santa Barbara, California for UNITED 2014. I attended UNITED last year and had an absolute bang-up of a time, but with the size of the conference almost doubling this year, I wasn’t quite sure how that would change things. Good news: turns out it just made everything twice as fun. Because I felt like I was a returning veteran instead of a complete n00b who knew no one, I was SO much more comfortable at the outset. For anyone contemplating going next year, my best advice is to go with someone you know! Or plan to room with someone you know, so you don’t feel like you’re going at it alone :).
A few highlights of my time in Santa Barbara:
- Spending some time in front of the camera as well as behind it. I got to don the tulle skirt my Granny & I made for three different shoots!
- Getting to spend some quality time with Ali, Tori, Anna, Natalie, Anna K, Lauren, Katie, Jen, and Katelyn. Late night soul-to-souls are so good!
- Having the opportunity to photograph an anniversary session with THIS gorgeous couple!
- The incredible Mexican food. No seriously- it’s so much better in California!
- Meeting approximately 374 new friends.
- Throwing down an Eminem rap during the Tuesday night concert in front of at least 100 other photographers. In my tulle skirt, no less. And seeing people’s faces as I began to spit it, and then the resulting collection of iPhones that were then pointed toward the stage. (thanks to Terri Baskin for the iPhone photo!)
And then 56 hours after arriving home from Santa Barbara, I got back on a plane to head out to Las Vegas for WPPI! I decided to attend about a week and a half beforehand, so I didn’t have a chance to sign up for any classes or map out what I wanted to do throughout the week, but you know, I kind of loved that approach. It left a ton of freedom to do whatever I currently felt like doing, and if I go again next year I think I’ll do the same thing. I’m usually such a planner that having a bit of forced spontaneity was incredibly refreshing.
And now, a few highlights from Vegas!
- Helping out at the Shoot & Share booth on the tradeshow floor. I had so much fun walking people through how I use PASS to simplify my business! One of the best interactions I had was with two French gentleman who spoke limited English, and as I speak limited French, the ensuing conversation was hilarious to watch.
- Having dinner with J&M, Kelly Lemon, and Vivienne of Make A Stand Lemon-Aid + the Harr family. Go check out both Kelly & Vivienne’s website- both of these ladies will make you take a step back.
- Walking the tradeshow floor- WPPI was worth the trip just for that. There were dozens of album vendors, tons of print companies, gear, photobooths, knick knacks, everything photo-related that you could ever want. I got to meet the faces behind Indie Film Lab, too, and I’m excited to send them my film from my upcoming Europe trip!
- Karaoke with 20+ other photographers. I’d never been before, and we chose an outdoor karaoke place that blasted passers-by with our dulcet tones. Seriously one of the most entertaining nights of my life, and the next morning my voice was totally gone.
- Heading out to Red Rock Canyon to photograph THIS pair of sweethearts.
- Going out dancing! Another thing I’d never done before but had always wanted to experience, so on my last night in Vegas when I declared I wanted to go dancing, Meg & Jeremy answered the call. We first stopped into Francesca’s and I picked out a new dress, and then we hit the Las Vegas strip for a night of hilarity. If you’ve never met Meg or Jeremy, they’re two of the most FUN people I know! I haven’t laughed that much in one night in a looooong time.
Whew. Two whirlwinds of weeks, and I’m about to jetset again this afternoon, but this time there’s no business involved. It’s my cousin Meg’s bachelorette weekend and we’re headed to Disney! Happy weekend-ing, friends!