Last year, even before Shutterfest 2015 had ended, I registered for Shutterfest 2016. Sal Cincotta, the apparent master of marketing and hype, offered registration at a discounted rate and in an effort not to be left out, I registered on the spot. I hadn’t even made up my mind about the current Shutterfest experience, but had already committed to coming again.
What I loved about Shutterfest 2015:
- The conference itself was very affordable. I believe I paid $99 to attend. ($79 for registering early for Shutterfest 2016.)
- Getting to travel and attend the conference with photographers I network and work with locally.
- Being introduced to some pretty neat photographers that I have remained in contact with over the past year.
- Knowing that the event would be capped at 2,000 attendees.
- Having the opportunity to shoot and expand my portfolio with models who were there to do the same and knowing that this wouldn’t be an additional out-of-pocket expense like at other conferences.
- Being promised that the instructors would be accessible outside their classes. While I didn’t actually talk with any of the better-known instructors outside of their class, it was comforting knowing that they would be willing. At other conferences, it always seems like a bother to the instructors.
What I didn’t enjoy about Shutterfest 2015:
- Being suckered into upgrading to an Elite+ member. This was totally not worth the extra $99. The only tangible benefit was receiving printed copies of the Behind the Shutter magazine. The promised lounge was horrible. In my mind, it was supposed to be a quaint, quiet place I could sit and relax and talk shop into the wee hours of the morning with fellow photographers and class instructors with a fruity mixed drink in my hand. Instead, it was a very small cafeteria with dirty tables and empty pizza boxes. I entered once, only to walk straight through because there was nothing… nothing there of interest.
- Not feeling that I was surrounded by enough of the same caliber of photographers as myself. With the exception of a small percentage of the photographers and those that welcomed me to their group, I felt a lot of the attendees were in the very beginning stages of their career. This was most evident to me during the image competition and during one of my classes when a few photographers elbowed their way to shoot the class’s model and wouldn’t back off even when asked by the instructor. Also, the classes that I attended were hijacked by questions that only a photographer just starting out would ask so the classes ended up being taught on a beginner level. So, I didn’t benefit. I do want to emphasize that there is nothing wrong with just starting out; I just felt a sense of being uninspired and in the minority, if you will.
- Feeling that some of the instructors lacked professionalism. This was most evident when an instructor told me not once, but three times that I had a better camera than they did. I sensed he was implying that I didn’t deserve to have this camera. This left a very bitter taste in my mouth. I wanted to email him after I returned home, but surprisingly refrained.
- Being tricked into thinking the swag bag was something you absolutely could not miss out on by booking a hotel that wasn’t a preferred hotel. Besides one coupon to Click Gear Clothing, there was nothing in the swag bag that interested me.
- The small expo. I know it’s not very beneficial for a vendor to pack up and travel thousands of miles to a conference when there will only be 2,000 attendees. As such, I was able to navigate the show in a matter of an hour or so. I prefer the expo at WPPI because it usually takes me a few hours each day for three days to walk through, visit booths, inspect products and ask questions.
- The contests to shoot with Sal in Busch Stadium. I’d rather be entered into a drawing and taking my chances there than to be more or less embarrassed by making a #swapyoface video. While I personally don’t mind being goofy every once in a while, this type of antic doesn’t fit well with my brand. I feel these contests are more of a way to boost Sal’s web presence, hashtags and popularity than it really is to pick a winner.
- Lastly, all the drama in the Facebook group. While this isn’t unique to Sal’s following, it’s just so immature and hateful. I really want to separate myself from professionals who act this way.
Even though this conference itself is very affordable, I don’t think I’ll be coming back. At the end of the day, I didn’t enjoy as much of the experience as I should have. As a business owner, I’ve made the decision to start investing in more intimate and intensive workshops like the one I’m attending with Nik Pedrikis and Salvatore Dimino this November. And, I’m hoping to one day snag a seat at a Two Mann Studio workshop.
If you enjoyed this blog post and would like to get your hands on 20 FREE interactive wedding planning tools that every couple needs, please take a moment to access them here.
Let’s “hangout!” I wanna hear about your love story!Schedule a virtual discovery meetup!
For more options, visit my “Let’s Connect” page.
I am San Antonio’s most unique wedding photographer. I specialize in a 10-day image delivery, same-day prints, same-day slideshows, Italian handcrafted wedding albums and I have a mobile meeting space.
I am a full-time, internationally-awarded and WPPI-C certified professional wedding photographer based in South Texas near San Antonio. I offer a premier and personal service coupled with an unforgettable photography experience. I cater to clients who appreciate quality photography and help them to create family heirlooms that will last for generations.
I started Ata-Girl Photography Co., LLC in 2010. I firmly believe that the unique set of circumstances I have faced in life has prepared me to take a personal and genuine interest in my photography clients. I enjoy documenting the important milestones and captivating moments in people’s lives. I love being a part of people’s journey and consider myself privileged to document their legacies.
When I’m not photographing a wedding, I love to spend my spare time hiking, camping, cycling, reading, listening to Elvis and Prince. The most important things in life are for me to see my two daughters happy and to create a family history my grandparents and grandson would be proud of!
The post, Shutterfest 2016, first appeared on Ata-Girl Photography Co.’s website and blog. Please feel free to comment here, or share this post with your friends via Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Please email me if you have any questions about this article or want to share a neat idea for a future blog post with me.