I feel like I need to start with a little background information. Last week, I spoke at a conference for photographers in Toronto. Speaking is something that I have done only a handful of times and I was determined to really nail down my process. To finally get it 'right'...I wanted my presentation to be fun and informative. Personal, but professional. All the while remaining true to myself--a little bit quirky and chaotic. ha. And, I am proud to say that I was very successful. It was by far my best presentation yet. I spoke on the first day and rode the high of a job well done for the rest of the conference.
If you don't ever do things like this, what you may not realize is exactly how much work goes into preparing to present. For me, I have thought about it for a year and it still took me a solid week of work to feel confident and ready. A week when I had to put all other work aside(except for shooting). And, then there is the week of the conference itself. A week away from my family, from my studio, from my clients...it's time consuming, exhausting and exhilarating. As an educator, I want so badly to give as much of my knowledge as I can to everyone who wants to soak up whatever I have to offer. It's why I have gone the route of educator. I love it almost as much as shooting. So, I want to be present for every person who wants to chat with me, buy me a drink, or have dinner with me throughout the week. What I am trying to say here is that no single educator does it for the money. It's a way of giving back to an industry that we all love so very much. And, to be honest since we are speaking honestly, I am a wee bit frightened to write this post as possibly, my teaching opportunities will dry up because I am speaking out, but I speak candidly in my pricing course about valuing yourself and your time...so, because of that, it feels hypocritical of me not to say anything.
A year before last week's conference, I signed a contract. A contract that promised my expenses covered, as well as, a speaker's fee. That contract was broken. In fact, all of the speakers had contracts that were broken. All of us are out thousands of dollars in flights, hotel, and speaker fees. All of us left families at home, studios and clients unattended to support this conference, but received no compensation. So, why am I speaking out? Well, the first reason is simply that I think consumers of photography conferences have a right to know that this has happened. They have a right to know that the money that they paid the conference organizer in good faith was not given to the artists that they all came to see share their knowledge. At least one further conference is planned and if I had bought a ticket to that conference, I would want to know this information. Secondly, I want any one who has a current contract with this individual to know how we have all been treated so that they can make a decision about how to proceed with that contract with the full knowledge of the situation. If they have any questions, I want to invite them to email me and we can chat. I can tell you that currently, the organizer has promised to make an attempt to pay us back. Only time will tell how that all works out.
Those of you who know me, know that I try to find the positive in all things. Last week, one of the speakers, Ben Hartley, had the best quote
"Worse things have happened to better people."
Truth bomb my friends.
I cannot tell you how proud I am to be included amongst the line up of speakers at this conference. Every one of them are shining stars--wonderful talents, incredible presenters/educators and, most importantly, outstanding people. I want to encourage any photographers who read this post to support them in any way possible so I am going to link to their sites.
James Day, Jonathon Suckling, Jenna Kutcher, Nicole Ashley, Kelly Redinger, Wyn Wiley, Bryan Caporicci, Ben Hartley, Jennifer Moher, Hugh Whitaker, Thierry Joubert, Mathieu Louis-Seize, Laurent Martin, Shari & Mike, Scott Wyden Kivovitz.
Despite the outcome, I am grateful for the experience. The people I met have filled my bucket with so much gratitude and amazingness. I am choosing to hold onto that.
You live and learn my friends. You live and learn.