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Don’t call it a conference

For the second year I ditched the freezing cold Northern Minnesota temps for the sun and warmth of Arizona to attend Showit United.

You may be wondering, what is Showit United?  Well, let me tell you.  United is a four day photography conference to teach, train and inspire.  But I don’t like calling it a conference anymore.   Why you ask?  Let me explain.

This isn’t a conference, this is a once a year summer camp for photographers.  United is family and united is my tribe.  Tell me one other “conference” that you can walk up to a complete stranger and give them a BIG hug?  Go on, I’ll wait.  No?  Didn’t come up with one?  Oh well…let me share my United story with you and then next year you can join me there!!

A little backtracking though.  My first year at United had a more “conference” feel to it for me.  I didn’t know many people and it was super nerve-wracking for a imposter extrovert such as myself.  And lets be honest, first time I definitely over extended myself when it came to all of the activities available between main speakers, shoots, breakout sessions and every other activity there was.  My second year though I had my trusty partner in crime and knew sleep was my friend and that I didn’t HAVE to go to everything.

Who’s this partner in crime you ask?  Funny story here.  Each year there is a ball the last night, everyone gets super dressed up, awards are given, fun is had and of course dinner is served.  I ended up dropping in on a photo of two of the other attendees in the hall.  Fast forwards 6 months and in the Facebook group for my planner (yes we have a Facebook group, because the Start Planner is awesome) one of the girls that I photobombed was looking for a business/life accountability partner.  Basically we became internet besties after that.   We live VERY different lives and I think that’s what makes it work so well.  We have common goals but I have a husband, two kids, and many other things that keep me in one spot.  Carly, she travels all the time and lives out of a suitcase half the time.  I love living vicariously through her and all of her adventures!  She is amazingly extroverted and gives me more confidence to be myself.

A few weeks before United I was definitely feeling the sting of burnout.  I was working constantly and always on the go between projects and getting our girls to their activities.  I made it a personal goal that I would not add any new projects and I would reduce my work schedule as much as possible for the remainder of the year.  Now here’s the funny thing.  It seemed to be an unintentional over arching theme of many of the speakers at United to take time, don’t miss out on things, be present.  Per usual I cried…a lot.  Especially when Katelyn talked.  It’s hard to be a business owner, have a life, have a family, make time for things and not feel extraordinarily guilty for one thing or another.

Remember when I said United is like camp?!  So of course there would have to be fun activities right?  Sunday evening we had a social hour by the pool.  I got to reunite with so many of my friends from last year, my Canadian buddies, our friends from Connect and of course the BEST bartender in Arizona BETTY!  That woman makes a MEAN margarita friends.

Monday night we went to Rustler’s Rooste for a fiesta filled evening.  Dinner, line dancing and fun.  And Tuesday night was, of course, our big night out.  The Black and Gold Gala was epic.  Carly and I ditched our formal wear towards the end though for our Carebear onesies.  Every formal evening should end with a onesie PJ party and we are pushing for it to be officially added next year.

In addition to United I spent a few extra days prior hanging out with Carly, shooting a styled shoot we worked our tails off to put together and attending another styled shoot put together by the amazing Ryann Lindsey.   I’ll have individual blog posts for those soon!!

It’s hard to describe United.  But whatever you do, don’t call it a conference.  And if you’re a photographer, ATTEND!  It’s hard to walk away from United without new friends, big goals and a plan to attend the next year.

So, pictures or it didn’t happen?  Of course!!  I set a goal to take more selfies with people this year.  I did pretty good, next year I want even more!!!

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