A conference that works ...
As a part of my job I get to (and sometimes feel like I have to) attend a lot of conferences. I’m not an enormously social person so to be completely honest I try to avoid them. Recently though I attended one that really worked. I thought I’d devote today’s blog to InspireBoston. A conference that works because of the people there, the people who plan it and put it on, and also because of it’s purpose.
InspireBoston isn’t organized by an association, a magazine, a company or a group of authors. It’s organized by a group of highly qualified photographers whose life business is to be photographers. They aren’t interested in teaching seminars or follow ons. They’re there to help each other be better. They teach each other (and the other lucky folks who get to attend).
About 200 people get to go. Then it’s sold out. Most of the folks there have been in business for a while. Per capita the highest qualified gathering of wedding and portrait photographers I’ve had the pleasure to spend a day or two with. Everyone is mostly packed into the inn, so everyone eats together, drinks together and talks from early AM (like around 10 - the crack of dawn for most photographers! ;-) The information exchange is frank and honest. People discuss real problems and get real answers or real commiseration. Even the teaching is sharp, no nonsense and practical.
But the reason I love this conference so much is because it is so relevant to its own community. Nearly everyone there was from the Northeast. The teachers were from the northeast. (Am I supposed to be calling that New England?) There was an element of practicality that permeated the content. It can’t help but build community. It can’t help but strengthen ties.
I didn’t get to spend as much time this year with the attendees as I would have liked. I got busy with work things and I was actually also using this as a form of personal retreat this year. But even so, I was grateful for the time I was there and grateful for the organizers, Matt and Enna, Krista Guenin, Paul McNerney and Krystal Prue, Mark Andrew, Carla Ten Eyck and Richard Esposito.
I left thinking about what would happen if people in communities around the country started doing this kind of thing themselves. In every community there are photographers who could teach and photographers who could attend. In every community there is a great little place that would pack people in and make them feel warm and comfy. This model works because the content of the conference matches the needs of the community. The connections are real and useful and lasting. It also works because it’s small. You can’t help but interact with just about everyone.
Great job Matt, Enna and team. Your conference is aptly named, not just for the attendees but for the model. Let’s hope some others are inspired to pick up the torch in their areas and do great things themselves!