In my last blog post, I said that I thought I would be 'the bad-ass one of the group'....I was very mistaken. EVERYONE in that room is a bad ass! I wasn't sure how I would 'fit in' with the luxury side of things. I mean, I come from the Midwest, yet I strive for the highest standards, which is sometimes a mindset that isn't received so well here. When I've talked about my goals in the past, some people in my local market chuckle a little bit. All I can say is that in Florida, I was surrounded by SO many people who have the EXACT mentality that I do about the wedding industry, the art of creating captivating and inspiring art, and the completely fabulous experience we give our clients. I was surrounded by people who dream just as big as I do and who don't think that is one bit of crazy. (Even though, we all are a bit on the crazy train!) I was surrounded by people who value their employees and realize the importance of taking care of them, working together, and hiring the BEST people. I wasn't really sure how the crowd would be at Engage10. Up until this point, I've only attended photographers-only workshops, events, conventions, etc. and many of times there is this fierce sense of big egos and competition. All I have to say is that at one point during the weekend, I looked around, and thought, "I am completely at home."
Engage10 brought all sorts of wedding professionals together! There were Photographers, Event Designers and Planners, Invitation Designers, Cake Makers, Musicians, Magazine Editors, Catering Directors, Entrepreneurs and all over leaders in our industry. The kicker was that absolutely every single person attending and speaking at this event was THE BEST at what they do.
One of the key things that stuck with me was the word ELEVATE. When I talk about taking things to the next level, I mean...I seriously want to rock-it-out like none other. I feel like we have SUCH an amazing crew right now with AMAZING talent, we have multiple brands that are now established...everything is in place. It's now time to elevate ourselves to photograph weddings that are nothing short of incredible. With this comes giving our clients an even MORE unbelievable experience with us, besides the actually day-of-shooting. This means working with event designers and coordinators who bring BIG visions to life. This means photographing events across the world. This means collaborating with the BEST and sharing it with the world. This means, taking the business and art of being a wedding photographer and giving luxury a whole new meaning...We have absolutely everything in place, it's now time to elevate ourselves!!!
I was also incredibly humbled to be amongst greatness.
Sylvia Weinstock is officially my hero. Amy Atlas taught me the importance of doing simple things WELL. Donna Newman reminded me to thing about my priorities. Carly Roney put culture into perspective for me. Harmony Walton taught me how to be innovative. Simon Bailey told me how to SHIFT. Mindy Weiss is expanding upon what she does best and sharing that with the world. Todd Fiscus, Tara Guerard, David Beahm and Bryan Rafanelli opened my eyes to a world of amazing desgin...I now have ALL of the respect in the world for these people. Ceci Johnson confirmed that putting my face on everything is totally smart and not vain. Liz Banfield reminded me why I love to be in Minneapolis. Amy Zaroff, Lindsay Piram, Amy Rubins and Stephanie Johnson made me proud to be from Minneapolis and excited for what the future holds for our market with this amazing talent! Bernadette Smith taught me all about gay weddings and the passion behind them. Susan, Lara, Marilyn, Carol, Brooke, Shira and Darcy all gave me a new appreciation for magazine print and the process of getting published. Randy Fenoli helped me get my priorities straight...no longer do I want to buy Jay-Z a drink...Jay-Z will buy ME a drink someday...
...and last but not least, a HUGE thank you goes out to Kathryn Arce and Rebecca Grinnals who dreamed of this conference. This is their 5th time putting this event together and even though this is my first experience, I have a feeling they have out-done themselves! They brought together THE most amazing people in the most nurturing environment possible. These ladies are truly remarkable!!
Here's a video from Cloud 9 Creative...just a snippet of our experience...
I'm incredibly pumped up for all of the new friendships and relationships I made at Engage! It was an incredible weekend, but gave me absolutely everything I need for the future!