Later this week I will be attending the Outdoor Photo Expo in Salt Lake City. I try to attend one or two photography events each year and I always find it interest when other photographers ask me that age old question: Why? Isn’t it expensive? That’s too far to travel for a two day expo. Do you learn anything? It’s true, attending the expo is expensive. The ticket is only a small part of the fee. I also have to purchase plane tickets and the hotel costs are crazy. Yet I am going. Lets take a closer look at why I think attending photo events is worthwhile.
1. The biggest reason to attend a photo event is to learn. For two days, I will listen to presentations on different aspects of photography, ranging from creativity to expedition videography. I will also have the opportunity to hear two nature photography masters: Art Wolfe and Frans Lanting. There is something for everyone at these events from the beginner to the seasoned pro and I am always amazed by the new ideas that I walk away with.
2. If education is the first reason to attend, inspiration comes in as a close second. We all approach photography in our own way and it is a good idea to occasionally step back and see what others are doing. Sure, I’m going to roll your eyes at some of it, but I will also see something that I really want to try. Also, don’t be afraid to see what non-wildlife photographers are doing. Each branch of photography has its own conventions and looking outside of your own speciality can often get the ideas flowing. We never know where inspiration will come from and one of the best ways to find something different is to look at areas outside your normal comfort zone.
3. Nature photography is socially isolating. We spend a lot of time chasing critters in the field, only to return home and spend additional time in front of the computer. My wife loves me very much, but when I start taking about my latest photographic adventures, her eyes start to glaze over. Photo events provide an opportunity to interact with other photographers who appreciate the time and effort I put into my images.
4. I believe in supporting the photography community. While photographers love to claim that they are self taught, it is almost never true. Through the generosity of their time and knowledge, many photographers have contributed to make me the photographer I am today. I strongly believe in providing that same support to the community by attending events and sharing my time and knowledge with others.
5. Finally, these events are fun. I lived in Salt Lake City for three years and I look forward to revisiting the area, discussing photography, and even capturing a few pictures.
The pronghorn image above was captured in Custer State Park, South Dakota using a Canon 1D mark 2, 500mm IS lens, at 125 ISO.