Every year, for the past 3 years, i’ve taken the time to go away from my family to go to the Pheonix photographer conference put on by Showit (the BEST website platform) called United. You can see my first year HERE, and last year HERE. This year, “Be Resolute in your Pursuit of that which Renews.”
After United every year, I put together this post to feature the beautiful images I got at the conference, but also just to write down what I got out to the conference so I can look back after a few months and remember. I think all of us attendees come off of our United trips on a high, get home, and then easily get sucked back into life and the hustle. I don’t think I got more than like 14 hours of sleep on my whole trip after all the amazing nights and activities that we had, and it was very nice to get home and sleep for 10 hours, but I wouldn’t have traded this years experience for anything. I got to spend time with three of my local photographer friends, whom I love SO much, and experience it all with them. That was a ton of fun in and of itself! I’m excited they were able to come as well!
I was hesitant to go to United this year. I actually tried to sell my ticket. I wasn’t sure after Justin found out he wouldn’t be farming with his dad if we could even afford it. If you go back and read about last year, I struggled quite a bit at United. I was pregnant with Jackson- swollen, emotion, and dealing with the fact that my mother-in-law had just passed away 2 weeks prior. That had effected more than I would have known last year. I ended up spending two nights just crying because my heart was broken. It was sad, and pretty obvious why I wasn’t wholeheartedly excited to go this year. BUT, the stars aligned, my new employer agreed that I could start AFTER my vacation, and I’m grateful that it all worked out.
I flew into Phoenix early Sunday morning. We’re talking EARRRRRLY early- my flight was at 5:40 AM. It was daylight savings time, so I did get an extra hour of sleep, but it was still awful. Hopefully i’m smart enough to not do that again. The festivities didn’t start until Sunday night so I spent my day finding friends, and giving them all the biggest hugs, and soaking up the toasty AZ sun. Then Sunday night was our welcome night! I loved seeing old friends, and making new ones! It was a great start to the perfect week! And then I saw the biggest stinkin’ roach I have ever seen in real life and was officially grossed out. Ewwwww.
Monday was the first full day of the conference, and Katelyn James opened it up for us! In years past she’s been the closer, but it was perfect having her the opener this year! She gave us the hard reality that life is imperfect. Valleys are valleys, and there can be beauty in the brokenness. That mountaintops are beautiful, but that’s not where you grow. That made me think of two years ago when me and Raylee were going on adventures to see a ton of waterfalls. Though we didn’t make it to many “mountaintops,” we made it to a ton a waterfalls (see my favorite here). The trips themselves were HARD. Some obviously harder than others, but the toughest ones gave way to the most beautiful waterfalls-every time. She also gave us the permission (not that it’s ever needed) to share our struggles. It’s too difficult to deal with our trials alone, and a personal brand creates clients who care. I have definitely been more open this past year dealing with hard things, and though sometimes it can feel like all I’m doing is sharing the hard things, I’ll have people come up to me and say they’re praying for us, or that they have been thinking about us, and that makes things a little less lonely. She also reminded us to not miss the miracles. It can be hard to see the good times when things are really bad, but they’re there, and it can give you the strength you need to push past things. SO good. I’ll be forever grateful for that lady and her sweet heart.
Then there was options to go to breakout sessions to listen to different topics, but I decided to take that time to go talk to some of the vendors that were a part of the conference.
That afternoon, we got to hear from Jasmine Star! When I first started out, I loved watching her photography content, but now she’s dove in further into social media curation. She gave us some questions that we needed to answer to help us grow.
- What do you see yourself doing in a year from now?
- How do I build the business of my dreams for me?
She closed out her talk with remind us. “I belong. I make a difference. I am ENOUGH!” Always good things to remember.
Monday night, we got to go see the Zoolights at the Phoenix Zoo! We were some of the first people that got to see them, and they were SO fun. I was bummed we didn’t actually see any of the zoo animals, but it was fun, none-the-less.
Tuesday was another amazing day! James and Jess reminded us to remember our whys. It’s so easy to get sucked into this business, and let our whys sneak by us. Then we can start to feel burned out, and start wondering if this is really what we should be doing. They told us that we tend to be more fearful of failure than we are fearful for death. That was crazy to me, but true to the core. There were a ton of other great speakers that day too!
Tuesday night was definitely one to remember! Showit whisked us away in limos to the Legacy Golf Course and had an amazing Gala! We all got to dress up (as fancy as we pleased) and they even had alpacas. Freakin’ alpacas. We had some yummy dinner, a live band, and alllll the dancing. But that wasn’t all. Then Jen and Jeff of Tonic Site Shop threw one heck of an after party at Culinary Dropout. We had one of the best DJ’s a lot of us have seen, and kept dancing!! I can’t even explain how much fun I had. What made it even better was that I got to do it with a few local photographers, Terra and Jordan! I love those girls!! We danced and danced, and then when I felt like I couldn’t anymore, we danced more! HA! It was so dang fun.
After a long night (I don’t remember the last time I stay awake until 2 AM), we had our final speakers Wednesday. I started with a breakout by Montana Dennis. I’ve had a few mentoring sessions with him this year (both ending up with me crying for the best reasons), and I just love his heart and the way he thinks about things. It’s always about the people. Then the conference ended with Natalie Frank, and then Amy and Jordan. Amy and Jordan reminded us the importance of money management (yeah…you read that right. At a photography conference. But it’s important being a business owner), AND THEN offered a Dave Ramsey book to ANYONE that wanted one. It was like Oprah, guys. “You get a book! You get a book! And you get a book!” Literally, Oprah.
Long story short- I laughed a TON, cried a bit, felt community more than ever, and remembered why I surround myself with the people that care. Oh, and danced SOOO much.
I don’t know what this year is going to look like with me starting a “real job” this coming Monday, but I did buy my ticket for next year in hopes that I can still make it happen.
Oh….And I also took some photos. HA!
Jordan has shot a few weddings with me this year and last, and I had so much fun with this girl on this trip!! She told me “Make the Misty face!!” for this shot, and I knew exactly what she meant. HA!
We had THE BEST tacos for lunch on Wednesday!! The steak melted in your mouth…I’ll dream about these for a while. SOOOO good!
My Canadian friend, Raelene, led a shoot this year, and I wasn’t able to be in her shoot, but I helped her put her flowers together, so I had to get a few shots of them!!! AND she had alpacas. So there’s that.
Can we take a second and appreciate how tall my bun made me. HA! #topknotgoals
Cassie and Field are always the BEST hosts!
And Natalie makes the cutest pregnant lady!!!
And then it wasn’t a part of United, but Wednesday afternoon, I took a little mini workshop with Ryann Lindsey! She was actually my roomie this year! I love that girl! We got to shoot all the pretty things with her!
I can’t wait until United 2019!!! Will I get to see you there?!?!