On the last day of Photocon, this happened:

A dream come true.

An item checked off my Bucket List.

Something my sister and I have always wanted to do together (and I felt her smiling over my shoulder the whole time).

Suffice it to say, I can now die a happy woman.

I am a die hard Elvis fan, and I'm not afraid to admit it.

My life is now complete.





photocon 2018 memphis

Every year, our local camera shop holds a photo conference in cities nearby. They've had shows, classes, lectures and private workshops in Oklahoma City, Little Rock and this year they held their first one in Memphis at the beautiful and extremely friendly hotel, The Guest House at Graceland. I attended my first Photocon in 2016 over in Oklahoma City where I got to hear one of Sports Illustrated legendary photographers speak, and from that time on I was sold on these three day events. 

I am a firm believer in photo conferences and workshops as an extremely important learning tool if you want to progress as a photographer. Not only are you exposed to amazing teachers, but you get a chance to swap ideas with other attendees and pick their brains for ideas and solutions to your own photography puzzles. 

As an added bonus, you get to make new friends along the way.

This year's keynote speaker was the extremely talented Lindsay Adler, one of fashion's top photographers and one of my heroes from the very beginning of my photographic journey. She creates these beautiful high fashion images but on a budget. The headpiece that the model was wearing during the private class I was able to take with Adler was made out zip ties and a bag of "Bling It Beads"! Another thing she likes to employ is a prism made out of three small mirrors she picked up at a hobby shop, gaffer taped together and then she shoots through it creating these dreamy reflections of the model's face (see this post for examples). The woman is a budget-friendly, creative genius.

During our class, she explained how she assesses the scene when she walks into a new location, how she uses the ambient light, if she evens wants to at all. She then sets about constructing her shot: where to place the model, where to set up the lights, what lens to use, all the usual stuff that goes into setting up a fashion/portrait photo.

The most important thing though is what does she want the photo to say, what kind of story is she trying to tell with the final image? That's actually the first question every photographer needs to ask himself, I think, because from there you can get to work to make the mental image you have in your head come to life in front of your camera.

The following images are ones from the first afternoon that Dave and I arrived, a BBQ place we found and devoured pulled pork and fries for lunch the next day, the opening speaker for the conference, and the private class that I took, which includes a few images I made of our model (with a little help from Adler). The gallery then moves into the keynote speech that Adler delivered to all the conference attendees later that evening, showcasing some of her work and her mission statement. I can't stress enough how much I learned from her and just how nice and down to earth Lindsay Adler was. After she finished her class, we were all gathered around her taking pictures, asking questions and just hanging out, when she whips out her cell phone and starts showing us pictures of her dogs that she'd posted to her personal Instagram account. 

And you really can't get any more real than that.

Beale Street

Dave and I spent the weekend in Memphis, Tennessee this past weekend so I could attend a photography conference. I learned a lot, met some Facebook friends in the flesh and finally got to visit Graceland, a lifelong dream of mine.

Whenever David and I would make the long trek from northern Virginia down to Arkansas to visit his folks, we'd always drive through Memphis and I would invariably start begging him to make a stop at Graceland. It didn't matter that we had Meghan in the back seat, then later Joe. Every time we'd cross the state line into Tennessee, I'd begin chanting, "Graceland! Graceland! Graceland!" He'd never stop, but would always promise me that one day he'd take me. Well, he lived up to his word some 30 years later, but that adventure will be told at a later date.

Right now, I've got Beale Street to show you, Beale Street that was alight with the setting sun, small crowds of tourists (the big crowds would come later that night), music being played on every street corner, musical notes set in the sidewalk with the names of some of my musical heroes: Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, BB King, and of course, The King of Rock 'n' Roll himself, Elvis.  The bars were hopping, people were stopping to take pictures, sweat was flying off the acrobat that was doing flips and jumps down the middle of the street . . . what an amazing, historic and magical street Beale Street is.