I had a great time at Escalate Live 2010 this week in Newport Beach, California. Escalate was a 2 day conference for wedding photographers organized by Dane Sanders. I love the Regency Lido Theatre's retro design, the venue Dane chose for the event in sunny Newport Beach, California. If you look at my images, you'd think it was sunny for the whole event, but actually it was quite overcast and rainy most of the time.
There was only one stage at Escalate. And that was a good thing because it ensured every attendee would experience each and every great speaker on the schedule; and a wonderful group of speakers there was!
Dane Sanders got things started by welcoming the attendees, both at the Lido Theatre and online via webcast. Dane organized this great event. His book, Fast Track Photographer was released during the conference. Dane encourages fellow wedding photographers to open up communication and dialogue with colleagues. Collaboration leads to a synergistic result which is more powerful than if we work alone.
Chris Becker, AKA Becker or [B]ecker, a native Orange County wedding photographer and namesake for the [b] school spoke next. Becker stressed how he focuses on giving his clients the best experience humanly possible. He concentrates on pleasing the customer, giving great customer service, making the day enjoyable and making the bride feel beautiful. Like Zappo's, great customer service will thrill your customers and bring you genuine referrals.
Jasmine Star, in her bubbly manner, encouraged fellow wedding photographers to blog to connect with clients. She tries to be herself, not a clone of someone else. She said it's important to be true to oneself and share who you are to your readers. If clients connect with you, they will want to employ your services. Look for what you can do for others, not solely what's in it for you.
Julianne Kost, digital imaging evangelist for Adobe Systems presented an overview of new features in Adobe Photoshop CS5. I beta tested and currently use Adobe Creative Suite 5 Photoshop Extended and am loving it. I love the new content aware features. I can't wait until all my plugins are updated to 64-bit, but I can run all of them in 32-bit mode for now. I use Nik Software products extensively and look forward to 64-bit versions in the future. Julianne was oh so informative about Photoshop. She knows Photoshop CS5 inside and out. She's a self-professed geek, but I was happy to find her humorous and witty. One would expect a lecture on Photoshop to be dry and boring, but one would be wrong in Julianne's case. She was truly a joy to watch. I would love to talk Photoshop over lunch someday. She was genuinely likable.
I truly love Jerry Ghionis, his photography and his album design. I would be ecstatic if I become half the wedding photographer he is someday. I first became aware of Jerry at WPPI this year in Las Vegas, Nevada. I had the good fortune to speak with Jerry at the [b] school party. He is truly a gentleman. I was amazed by his gorgeous and glamorous mutliple award winning albums. Not only is his photography amazing, he is a joy to see in person. I'd love to attend one of his workshops. I'm a member of his Ice Society and purchased his set of Picpockets at the show. I like to watch his instructional videos before I shoot weddings to get motivated and improve with every shoot. Jerry has a way with relaxing his subjects. He casually guides his subjects resulting in poignant, glamorous portraits which don't look posed at all. Please check out the Soul Society, Jerry's non-profit organization dedicated to helping underprivileged children around the world.
Jessica Claire shoots her weddings with intent. She shoots with a purpose and encourages us to do so as well. When you shoot with intent, you increase your effectiveness because it forces one to think and plan to get the images you want to show your bride and future clients. It's important to shoot for yourself, but be sure to get the shots your clients can't live without. Please the client by meeting their desires and show what represents you and your style. My friend Catie purchased a Shootsac at the conference, a lens changing bag very popular with wedding photographers.
David Jay is a wedding photographer currently known for his Showit Sites product which helps photographers create compellng websites without technical web programming experience. David's father told him that as long as you make your business about helping others, it will work. I love that attitude. I personally aim to help others through my photography business. I connect and look out for my clients' welfare when they trust me to photograph their weddings.
Jeremy Cowart photographs his subjects employing his signature style. I was not familiar with Jeremy's work prior to Escalate. He has only shot professionally for 5 years, but has enjoyed great success in that short time. He has shot for most of the major television networks and has worked extensively with celebrities the likes of Sting, Kerrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Britney Spears and Imogen Heap. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Jeremy recently relocated to Los Angeles, California. Jeremy has a heart for people. He puts it into action through his Voices of Haiti and Help-Portrait projects. It brought tears to my eyes seeing how joyful people in need can be through something as simple as photography. I would love to participate in Help-Portrait in my community.
I had a great time with my colleages and friends Katie Trujillo, Catie Stephens and Michael Boardman. After the conference, Katie, Catie and I ventured out on a photo walk of Newport Beach. I took the above photograph under the Balboa Pier, a location suggested by [b] school photographer, Paul Edwards. It was a perfect ending to a great event.