What I learned in Nashville at ImagingUSA | Professional Photography & Stellar Education

I am throwing it back this Thursday to exactly one month ago, when I attended ImagingUSA, our industry’s premier & education-centric conference.  ImagingUSA2023 was held in Nashville, TN and is the place to learn more about photography

Here are three things that struck a chord with me at this year’s conference.

1. If you want to do a certain type of work, find the community that supports that.

This is something we all need in our lives. For me, I like having a creative community and creative friendships. I learned this when I first moved to Savannah, Georgia to teach first grade. I loved teaching children to read and write. I still needed something creative, though. I’d often take my camera and go to explore the salt marshes or along the pier at Tybee Beach.  I have found that following your curiosity helps to cultivate the work you want to do, as well as build the community of people you want to be a part of.  These people give us the space to grow, to bloom, and to flourish. They help us to add our own vision of beauty to the world.

Last week, I returned from one of these creative immersions. Our national industry conference – Imaging USA – was held in Nashville, TN at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. Not a hotel…a resort…a wildly lush & tropical, waterfall-filled resort. Have you been? If so, what was your favorite part? I loved walking around with all this lush beauty hugging each pathway.

Brick wall in the foreground and waterfall in the background.

I had been to Nashville for one night with my friend Holly when we drove cross-country from California to North Carolina. Broadway was alive with country music and neon lights, and it was a fun experience. This resort was a different Nashville experience.

2. If you can name it, you can have it.

Now, before you tell me you want a million dollars, let’s pump the brakes. I use this line “If you can name it, you can have it” with the students that I work with all the time. It’s about knowing what you want and what you need and being able to articulate that. It’s more than asking for what you need, although that is a good starting place.

I knew I wanted to attend this year’s ImagingUSA for several reasons. For me, it goes back to the core values of my company:

Craft, Clients, & Community

I want to be the very best at my craft so I can offer the very best to my clients. From there, we build this community together, and we are able to support so many other people, ideas, and initiatives. The ripple effect is something I am proud to have built over the years.

I went to ImagingUSA knowing I wanted to see new and interesting ways to light, to pose, to capture, to retouch, and to continue to tell my clients’ stories through beautiful images. The conversations that arose organically around these areas help me to elevate my craft, and I am grateful to be a part of that exchange. We talked about what helps clients to feel more comfortable in front of the camera and how we all collaborate to capture the moments that matter.

3. If you want to challenge yourself to do your best work, you must fill your own well.

This is something I learn and re-learn all the time. ‘Filling the well’ is a term Julia Cameron uses in her book, The Artist’s Way. The well is your pool of creativity, your ideas, your inspirations, your inklings, and so much more.  As we work our creative muscles with ideas, tasks, and projects, we dip into that well. We flex and use what we have. Like a physical workout, those muscles need rest, or we are just depleted.  Filling our well allows us to re-stock what we need to continue to grow, learn, and yes – follow our curiosity.

ImagingUSA did this for me – it filled my well. What a treat it was to attend this convention, to see old friends and to make new ones. What a gift it was to learn new techniques and to be inspired. Finally, what a pleasure it was to applaud the friends who received awards and to capture their excitement.