Wildlife / Photography Conferences – are they worth it?
We’ve recently attended the Wild Photos 2011 conference in London, UK. It was a big comittment both in finance and time to attend, and I was reluctant at first, wondering what we would obtain from the experience. From conferences I have previously attended (for work, not pleasure) I have been lucky if I have been inspired by one speaker, and I rarely come away completely inspired. Wild Photos was different, VERY different.
I had expected amautur photographers like Ali and myself to be in the majority – I expected the auditorium to be filled with budding photographers eager to learn something new. Instead, we found ourselves in the minority – everywhere you looked were our photographer heroes; Mark Carwardine, Andy Rouse, Chris Packham, Jonathan Scott and Florian Schulz. You could mingle freely with them, ask them questions, learn about their work (or just admire them from afar). It was an amazing opportunity to rub shoulders with the best in the business. What’s more, I also found new heroes in the conference speakers – Bence Máté, Thomas P Peschak, Daniel Beltra, Alex Badyev and the incredibly talented and humble Sven Začek (an hunter turned photographer who inspired us all with his incredible shots of his native Estonia. His work is incredible!)
I learned so much and was humbled by the professional photographers who, already at the top of their game, continued to be inspired by their colleagues. It was a lovely atmosphere and a welcoming gathering of professionals. Despite feeling incredibly starstruck I was continually impressed by how friendly the professionals were, how they felt such a sense of duty in their work and how approachable they all were. There was a lot of discussion about taking young photographers under their wings and a real sense of purpose and pride in their roles. What’s more, they clearly enjoyed doing what they do and their passion and enthusiasm was very infectious.
It wasn’t all work and no play – many of the speakers were not only engaging and great teachers, they were also hilarious. There was tales of naked photographers in the field, speakers who ran overtime were threatened with water pistols / foam gun pellets and Saturday morning’ s session kick started with Chris Packham shooting a picture of Frans Lanting onstage 🙂
We’ve talked non stop about who we’ve met, what we have seen and have come away itching to get our cameras out. It that’s not proof it was worth it then I don’t know what is.
I’ll be sharing some of the key lessons from the conference on this blog – so keep an eye out.