This is my first “convention” attendance as a photographer so I picked the organization that’s most representative of my interest of outdoor photography. This group holds a Summit each year in a different location, holding workshops, seminars, product demonstrations and a product expo, all geared toward photographers creating images of the outside world.
Today’s session started with a keynote address by Phil Borges – Documenting Issues and Solutions. He’s a dentist who practiced for a decade or so and then turned to photography. He said his work was commercial for about three years but then he wanted to do more, use his images to advocate for causes both natural and human. His presentation discussed books he’s published about cultures and their place in the environment, stories he’s telling of how civilizations change as they collide and the impact it has on individuals. He said his goal is to personalize to the individual level. His images are beautiful portraits of people, tinted to focus the viewer’s attention on the person and detailed to connect the viewer intimately.
My next session was Katherine Feng describing her path from amateur to professional, and the way her journey has brought her to new places. She’s building her niche with photographs of China – culture, people, environment, wildlife. She admits that China is a pretty big niche so she focuses her work on those specific areas, showing how they interact for good or bad. As a veterinarian her interest goes to animals so she has amazing photographs and videos of panda’s at a research institute in northwestern China.
Next was more business focused – what is this stock photography thing and how can it work for me? Three agency representatives showed examples of outdoor photography currently selling from their shops, discussed how they look for photographers and clients, and went over some details on how to present to them so the work gets noticed. With thousands of people submitting to stock on the web and professional photographers having personal relationships with agency decision-makers, this feels like both a good and difficult opportunity to grasp. It is another way to get images out for consideration, and possibly income.
Finally, a brief discussion and slideshow about photographing in the Galapagos. The gist of the presenter’s message is animals there generally aren’t afraid of people, so leave the long lenses at home and prepare to get up-close and personal with a wide range of tropical wildlife. They recommended going with a small photography tour in order to have more time to shoot and not be crowded or pressed for time. Got me excited and interested in a place I’d never considered going to, especially when they showed photographs of birds sitting on their hands and sea lions coming up to nose around their ankles.
Many side opportunities to just look at people’s images and get involved. Several photos were displayed and attendees were asked to submit captions for them – funny captions. A door prize was offered to encourage participation but I think most photographers would rise to the challenge regardless of incentive. At the end of the day 12 or so photographers gave 3 minute presentations of their work around a common theme provided by the Summit. It was great to see the range of people exploring distant, exotic locales as well as their back yards and local parks.