Amy Demos calls it “Photographyland.” The place where everyone wears runway fashion, hair is braided into a meticulous masterpiece, and elephants grace the background wearing flower crowns. Photographers have the most exquisite highlight reels. The late nights editing in clean-enough pajamas are hidden behind a thick veil while we post carefully curated artwork on the internet for all the world to envy. I want to start by saying, I underestimated this industry.
The irony is while we know what goes into producing these larger-than-life highlight reels, we also tend to believe the magnificence. For years, I scrolled through Instagram feeds wondering how all photographers seemed to be life long besties. Thinking their lives were spent shooting weddings designed by Martha Stewart herself. And believing I didn’t belong there.
This year, I decided I was going to venture out into photographyland and stop being an industry wall flower. I started going to the Phoenix Pug, I attended the AJ workshop, and two weeks ago, I went to my first photography conference, Showit United. If I had to sum up my feeling when I drove home on the last day, I would instantly say that above all, I was grateful. I am so grateful for the people who befriended me, who shared their knowledge with me, who made room for me under the trees when it rained, and who showed me that photographyland is totally weird, and I totally belong there.
I’m grateful for Abby Grace who led our styled shoot like a boss despite it being rained out. She gave us her best and was so sweet and was truly graceful.
I’m thankful for Drew and Veronica who were the first people to say hi to me. These two have a genuine interest in helping other photographers and it’s beautiful. Before the conference started, Drew emailed the photographers in his Styled Shoot group to see what we wanted to take away from the class. Drew and Veronica have teachers hearts and became such valued friends.
I’m indebted to Graham and Ashley who I met while standing in line for the food truck. After ten seconds of hearing them talk, I decided “Yes, I like them.” I don’t quite know how to describe these two. It’s that thing you can’t put your finger on. They’re silly and sweet, supportive and encouraging, amiable and unassuming. And they feel like family.
I’m still coming down from the high of the week. This is the week I finally met Justin and Mary and while I almost fainted, I’m pretty sure they thought I was cool. This is the week I learned 100 new poses just from watching other photographers work their magic. Where I went to a formal event that I didn’t photograph. Where I braved saying hello first, shared dreams, cultivated friendships and finally got off the wall and danced.
Hey. Do you mind if I tell you a story? One you might not have heard. All the elements in your body were forged many many millions of years ago in the heart of a faraway star that exploded and died. That explosion scattered those elements across the desolations of deep space. After so, so many millions of years, these elements came together to form new stars and new planets. And on and on it went. The elements came together and burst apart, forming shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings. Until, eventually, they came together to make you. You are unique in the universe. There is only one of you. And there will never be another.