As an alumni of Conference 12 from 2015 and 2016, I wish I would have known what to expect when I attended the first time. So here are a few tips on what to expect if you are lucky enough to be attending 2018 Conference 12 in CHICAGO!!!

Before you go:

  • Do some inner soul (or business) searching and figure out what you hope to gain from attending the conference. Do you want to learn more of the business and marketing side of senior photography, do you want to give your portfolio a fabulous addition, or do you want to get some great tips on shooting, posing and creativity from the masters? Make a list of your TOP 5 goals.
  • Join the Conference 12 Facebook group and start getting to know the other attendees.  I shared a taxi from the airport my first year with another attendee and it was a great was to get to know someone plus half a cab fare! Start networking before you even arrive.
  • Speaking of networking, you should get to know your instructors. Every year Conference 12 has some amazing creatives and business leaders and it helps to know their faces and their work prior to arriving.  Read their bios, look at their work. What inspires you about their style of photography.
  • Packing! This one is probably the worst part of traveling for me. As far as equipment goes, bring your favorite gear, a laptop (because you will WANT to edit these images asap) and lots of cards and batteries! Or perhaps rent a new lens or camera you have been dying to try out. There are lots of opportunity for getting fabulous images, not only in the shootout but also at the location where the conference is located!

During the Conference:

  • Bring an open attitude. Not everything that every speaker tells you will be applicable to your business model. Not every shoot will be “your style”. But push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new. Bring pens and notebook because there is NO WAY you will recall everything you hear. And you might not apply thing immediately either. It is great to go back after a few months an implement something you wrote down during the conference.
  • Networking, networking, networking! I have met and maintained friendships with senior photographers from all over the country when I attended the Conference. Have fun meeting new people, exploring the city together or going on a photo walk to get some amazing images of the area. And of course, follow your new friends on social media so that you can continue to support one another and watch each other grow.Take advantage of every activity! There will be plenty of downtime to explore to area and edit images in your room, but go to the break-out sessions, hang out during dinner and free time. You will have tons of fun and memories to last you until the next conference! There is usually a vendor or two at the conference, or perhaps the speaker brought some of their products they offer to their own clients. Take the time to look at the sample products and ask questions while you are there. If you don’t already offer or use the products it is a great way to scope it out without having to purchase sample studio items.

I hope I was able to give you some insight on how to prepare for your Conference 12 experience this September!!  Enjoy your time in the Windy City!

Jen Rickard
Four J Photography in Lafayette, Louisiana

Jennifer Rickard is a native of Lafayette, Louisiana, and her clients known her as “Jen”. She owns Four J Photography and is the sole photographer there. She has been taking photos for over 10 years and began her journey in business nearly 5 years ago. Four J Photography provides fashion, corporate and high school senior photography services to the Acadiana area. Jen is most passionate about giving high school seniors an amazing portraiture experience. She prides herself on really getting to know her clients and providing them with custom images that truly showcase their personality and beauty, both inside and out. Working with independent, licensed cosmetologists, Jen creates a boutique look tailored to each of her senior clients. Sessions at Four J Photography usually take place outdoors, as Jen strives to complement the beauty of her subjects with the vibrant surroundings of South Louisiana. Her work has been published on various senior photography platforms such as Denim + Grace, Seniorologie and Senior Style Guide. Jen was also named a Hot 100 photographer by Senior Style Guide. In addition to her photography business, Jen loves camping, spending time outdoors, and traveling with her husband and two children.

What to Expect at Conference Twelve – {Guest Post by Jen Rickard}


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