before i begin, i have to say that this post is 100% not sponsored. photo native didn't ask me to write this post OR be their cheerleader. i just feel the need to write this post and be their cheerleader because i love photo native so much.
i've been to other photography conferences & workshops, but photo native was the place where i truly felt like i could be truly myself. i didn't feel weird sitting in the front row, or sitting in the back. i felt okay with sitting by myself, but was also welcomed to sit at any table. conversations flowed with fellow photographers & i never felt embarrassed to say that i was a young photographer who did something other than wedding photography. (don't get me wrong, i still do wedding photography, but it's not my main focus)
today, i had a friend reach out & ask me about my feelings on photo native vs. a different conference that we both went to & i wanted to share those feelings here today. hopefully, by the end of this post you'll hop on the photo native train & come to palm springs with me in 2019. if not, no biggie. (jk. you should make it work because photo native will change your life.)
all this being said, i am SO grateful for my experience with the other conference i went to, so i'll call it something else for the purpose of this post. we'll call it SNICKERS (which i also believe was the code name for my middle school crush... 🤷♀️) & also know that SNICKERS could be replaced with multiple photography conferences, not just the one that i attended.
photo native is INCREDIBLE for so many reasons. i could go on & on about my favorite things, but for the sake of time, i'll just give you these four reasons:
1. you legitimately feel like you belong.
that is their motto, but it is so, so true. i sat next to some of the best photographers in the industry (joy prouty is who i’m thinking of right now— she was their keynote for 2018 photo native. and is an INSANELY talented family photographer) BUT I HAD NO IDEA that she wasn’t just another attendee because she was also asking the instructors questions and trying to learn from them. i felt like at SNICKERS all of the speakers were like celebrities who were on a completely different level than i was and approaching them to chat was intimidating. it was painfully obvious who was “cool” at SNICKERS. at photo native, you know who the speakers are going to be in advance & they have a different colored name tag, but they attended the classes just like everyone else & were asking the same questions about fitting in, building a business & feeling confident in creating art that i was. & i thought that was REALLY cool. (also they fan-girled over the other speakers too. which really made me feel like i fit in & wasn't the only star struck girl around.. if you're curious, ask me about my encounter with joy prouty at john keatley's class sometime... again, i had NO clue who i was sitting next to or that having a full on conversation with her was actually pretty cool. all i knew was that i was having a conversation with someone about the really cool photographer we were about to hear from!)
2. photo native isn’t salesy.
one of my big beefs with SNICKERS was that at the end of EVERY class there was a sales pitch for the person speaking’s Online Course or own personal Workshop. i paid MONEY to go to SNICKERS and i felt very disappointed by the fact that i was being sold to more than i was learning or being inspired. photo native’s classes are seriously that— CLASSES. you learn from and with some of the best photographers in every type of photography category— not just wedding photography. there was more than one class that i cried in because i felt so, so inspired by what was being taught. the amount of heart that these photographers have for their work AND their families was incredible. they shared bits & pieces of their souls with us & encouraged us to step outside of the "what a photographer looks like" mindset to do work that matters.
3. at photo native they don’t just focus on wedding photography.
i love wedding photography, but i got pretty burnt out last year and realized that i wanted to take my business in a different direction. i thought i would get some clarity on how to do that at SNICKERS, but it seemed like every class was targeted at strictly wedding photography, which was great (!!) BUT i love that at photo native, they talk about all types of photography & finding the kind of photography that fills YOU up as well as helps pay your bills.
4. photo native is affordable for everyone!!
their class pass gives you access to all of the classes + an opening social AND their cool dance party (which i didn't attend this year because i'm lame, but i wish i would have!!! i went to the one my first year & ended up chatting with ben sasso & katch silva for like a half hour. so you could say it was a pretty successful evening.) seriously. it is SO affordable. right now until JULY 1st you can go to photo native for their early bird pricing of $550 for THREE DAYS of dope classes & meeting some cool new friends & hanging out at the coolest hotel in palm springs. (AND THE DANCE PARTY. DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE DANCE PARTY!!!) but i get it. $550 is a lot of money to just throw down. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE: photo native gives you the option to pay half of that now & the other half 60 days before the conference! so come!! & hang out with me, some other suuuuper incredible photographers & most importantly come find out that you belong too.
i have so much room in my heart for photo native. i met jessie (one of the founders) at a workshop like 5 months after my first time photo native and the first thing she said to me was, “you're sadie banks, right? didn’t you come to photo native this year?” i do NOT have a reach out and be super bold and talk to everyone type of personality, so the fact that she remembered me and knew who i was was HUGE for me. we talked about photo native for a good solid five-ish minutes and that’s when i knew that everyone truly belonged at photo native.