You know that feeling you have when it feels like everything just sort of fell into place and that you were MEANT to be where you were at that exact time? Yeah, me too. THAT was exactly how I felt at this year's Push Conference, Senior Style Guide's annual conference for senior portrait photographers.
This was the third annual conference, and coincidentally my third year on board as a speaker. I joined the ranks of some of the top senior portrait photographers from across the nation including Amanda Holloway, Dan Brouillette, Latasha Haynes, Craig Stidham, Tara Rochelle, Christina Ramirez, Brooke Daniels, Claire Anderson, Jeff and Christine Tonkin (DigiSmiles), Thomas Nguyen, Teri Fode, Jackie Palmer, and even SSG's founder, Vickie Black! So, it goes without saying that it was an absolutely honor to teach again, but of course I'll just say it anyway. It was an HONOR!
Attendees, vendors, and speakers in our middle-of-the-street us-ies!
If you've never been to Push, the thing to know is that it's THREE DAYS of non-stop learning, connecting with other photographers, shooting, and even getting to know the speakers. That's really the part that I feel sets The Push Conference apart from other conferences - there's no main stage where the speaker is looming over the crowd, completely awash in bright lights (not that there's anything bad about that sort of conference). At Push, the speakers are constantly on the floor mingling with the attendees and available to answer any and all questions, whether that's during their class or anytime during the conference. We eat meals with the attendees, watch the other speakers teach, and even show the attendees how we shoot during the shooting sessions. OH! And there's a strict NO SHOOTING OVER SOMEONE'S SHOULDER rule during the shoot outs. Every attendee gets the chance to pose the model, shoot their own unique images, and walk away with killer portfolio pieces from a session styled by the speakers. And as if it couldn't get any better, it's limited to only 50 attendees, which means an amazing 5:1 attendee to speaker ratio. It's truly unlike any other senior photography conference.
This year, I was asked to teach one of the three Push Society classes, which were reserved for conference alumni who have attended all three years in a row. How cool is that?! Given the class size, I was able to tailor the curriculum to the attendees who were interested in learning editorial lighting. So, I dug in full force and went BIG thanks to some help from Vickie doing some amazing location scouting and John Scott at Roberts Camera hooking me up with the Profoto B1 500 AIRTTL Location Kit, Profoto modifiers, AND a Savage Universal Pure White seamless backdrop. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't spoiled by those Profotos - the light quality is unreal and I'm in LOVE! (OH HAI, Profoto! I didn't see you there! wink wink)
The class focused on creating an editorial-style senior session, meaning there was a story that was to be told. In this case, I came up with the theme "Sports Chic" to tell the story of the cool, tomboyish (but still effortlessly stylish) high school basketball girl. I pulled together my inspiration in a mood board (a part of the process that I LOVE) so I could get our model, Hannah, and our hair and makeup artist, Courtney Hampton, all on the same page.
***DISCLAIMER: These images are NOT mine and were compiled from Pinterest to create a moodboard simply for inspiration.
The goal was to not only show the attendees how to create this story from the ground up, but how to use studio lighting WITHOUT a studio. We shot in three different locations - indoor, outdoor on a backdrop, and on location at the Depauw University track. Shooting outdoors from 11am-12pm gave us a challenge, but it's one I took head-on. The thing is, finding good light is one thing. BUT, knowing how to CREATE amazing light in harsh conditions is what makes you stand out from your competition. And THAT'S, what I wanted to teach. I'm all about learning how to be as versatile as possible to create truly unique images for my clients, and it's what I focus on in all of my teaching.
A little behind the scenes of our location shoot at the track using Profoto B1s. MAD SHOUT OUT to Jeff and Christine Tonkin for the assist!
Here are some of the final images I captured during the Push Society class, as well as a few more I HAD to grab of Hannah after the shoot. Tara Rochelle (who is an INCREDIBLE photographer AND assistant, btw) and I just couldn't resist taking the time to shoot Hannah in a few more set-ups at the track....with Profotos. HA! You DON'T pass that kind of opportunity up!
(Indoor against an available wall in the ballroom at The Inn at Depauw)
(Outdoor makeshift studio with the Savage backdrop and Profotos)
(On location at the track)
What's crazy is that this was just the day BEFORE the entire conference started! There were still three days left, and they were nothing short of amazing. Stay tuned as I track through the rest of my time at this year's Push Conference in Part II of this blog!
AND NOW, A WORD ABOUT OUR SPONSORS! ;)
A VERY special thanks to AlienSkin for providing our attendees with a killer discount AND giving away a copy of their newest version of Exposure, X2! I use ASX2 in ALL of my portrait editing, and I could NOT live without it!
A MAJOR shoutout to all of our vendors at Push! Check them out, because each and every one of them is AMAZING!
Roberts Camera is My GO-TO for all of my camera gear! Their customer service is UNMATCHED, and I highly recommend them to all photographers, pro and amateur. Roberts graciously provided all of our studio gear (Profoto B1s AND D1s, modifiers, backdrop stands, Savage Universal seamless backdrop, etc.) for my Push Society class AND our late night shooting pods. THANK YOU!!!
WHCC is one of my favorite labs. They've got an incredible selection of products for professional photographers, and their printing is on point! The quick turnaround time is a lifesaver, too!! Their giveaways at Push were INSANE!
ProDPI is another favorite lab of mine, and I've also been using them for years and years. Their press product line is where I go when I need amazing cards, announcements, and promotional materials for my business and workshops.
When you need modern templates for your business, The Modern Collective is HQ! I remember buying one of my very first graduation announcement templates from them, and I STILL use them! That's how great they are!
Iris Works is a powerful studio management tool wrapped in a simple, easy-to-navigate layout. If you're in need of a system to help you with invoicing, emails, scheduling shoots, and even logging scouted shooting locations, you've GOT to check out Iris Works. Meredith Gradle, owner of IW, personally responds to inquiries and helps you every step of the way! Another customer service focused company that is worth every penny!
After tons of rave reviews of ShootProof from colleagues, including Ike & Tash, I knew I had to check out ShootProof. Their gallery + mobile app system is LEGIT, and it makes online ordering and image viewing for clients a breeze! It took me virtually no time at all to set it up and customize my gallery for my clients, and their Archival feature is something I haven't seen a lot of other companies do. I'm excited to add this to my client experience!