Primitive cabins stacked to the brim with bunks outfitted with paper thin vinyl covered mattresses. Daring someone to take a drink from a pitcher practically overflowing with a mystery concoction while on KP duty. Ridiculously contrived relays on the quest for arbitrarily assigned team points. Broom ball rivalries. Foosball tournaments. If any of that sounds familiar then you, like me, have probably been to church camp (shout out to Hume Lake, Silver Spur and Camp Hammer!) In addition to all the high jinks and shenanigans, the other thing church camp had going was the unique ability to fuel a passion. Somewhere between the mass quantities of scrambled egg substitute and a midnight round of capture the flag, they were always able to sneak in speakers who inevitably left you inspired to return to real life with an unrivaled passion and drive.

Arizona cactus

I just returned from Phoenix where I attended Imaging USA, a national convention for professional photographers from all over the world. While we didn’t play strange games where I had to hold an empty two liter bottle on top of my head while fellow campers spit jello into it trying to be the first to fill the bottle (True story – I didn’t eat Jello for quite some time after that!) what the photo convention did have was that unique ability to leave me motivated to conquer the world – photographically speaking that is. So, after three long days of inspirational speakers, instructional classes and innovative vendors here is what I took away from the event (other than a mild case of carpal tunnel from scribbling page after page of notes).

imaging usa 2014 expoThere were gadgets and gizmos a plenty. An entire convention center floor full of vendors showcasing all manner of photographic products. I got answers to a lot of old questions and some new questions I didn’t know I had. In addition to a fresh supply of free swag including a handful of reusable shopping bags and a lifetime supply of lens cloths, I also picked up some neat new toys to help speed up my work flow. This is perhaps the first time I’ve been this excited to sit down and edit a bunch of photos.

When I wasn’t busy drooling over expensive toys that I can’t afford I was in classes learning how to improve my product, with or without the high priced gear. With multiple sessions each day they covered just about every subject one could think of to maintain a successful photography business. With multiple offerings for each time slot the hardest part was deciding which classes to attend. I ended up choosing sort of a mixed bag of topics ranging from working with children to Photoshop fixes to boosting SEO (or search engine optimization, in other words how to make Google work to your advantage). In addition to a whole notebook full of very useful information I also came away with a little sense of pride at how much was presented that I already knew (and not just in the classes about working with kids).

imaging usa 2014

Imaging USA was no doubt a great few days of total immersion in all things photographic. Perhaps it’s that complete concentration on one focus (photography pun intended) that delivers the feeling of unbridled enthusiasm. Then there is the inevitable unwelcome return to reality where one is tasked with the mundane responsibilities of everyday life. Much like coming home from church camp, the passion for a cause quickly begins to fade. So I now must do my best to continue on in the same spirit all the while looking forward with great anticipation to when I get to do it all over again next year at camp….errrr, the convention.

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