Early on in my photography journey, one of my big dreams was to attend a conference for wedding photographers. When I came across the The Graceful Gathering in Cleveland, Ohio, I knew it was my dream wedding photography conference! The purpose of the conference was to encourage photographers who have a heart to love and serve their clients, to provide an opportunity for authentic community, and to focus on the deeper why behind what we do. The hosts, Courtney and Robert Cannon, had a vision that really spoke to me and I knew it would be an amazing experience!
I felt such a pull to go, but the practical side of me had lots of excuses on why I should pass on the opportunity. It’s a big financial investment. I couldn’t possibly leave my young kids for that long. It’s too much to ask of my husband. Traveling alone is stressful. I don’t know anyone there. I am not as far along in my business as I should be for something like this. You get the idea. At first I talked myself out of going, but it kept coming up in my mind, and if I was being honest, I REALLY wanted to go.
Finally, my husband told me, “YOU’RE GOING!” He was probably sick to death of my deliberations, haha! But it was the push of his encouragement that finally got me to commit. He’s been my cheerleader since the beginning, always believing in me despite all of my doubts and insecurities. He was able to take the time off work and I had saved up enough to pay for the trip, so I booked my flight!
Going to this conference was honestly really outside of my comfort zone, but I think it’s important to occasionally do something that feels crazy. To take a leap and surprise yourself. And I am so glad I did! The conference was truly amazing. There were so many incredible educators there who have a heart to love on and pour into photographers.
We listened to key note speakers, as well as attended break out sessions where we could choose which topic we wanted to learn about. It was never an easy choice, as I wanted to hear everything! Some of the topics were finding your WHY, client experience, working moms, albums, discovering who your ideal client is, upleveling flash, copy writing, SEO, sewing seeds of grace, and so much more. I loved that some of the topics were big picture, and others were more technical and practical.
Another thing that I loved about the conference was the opportunity for add on styled shoots! It was so fun seeing the vision for the styled shoots come together with the incredible planners, lead photographers, florists, models, and other creatives who put them together. I love styled shoots because they help me get back to the heart of my creativity, capturing beauty simply because it brings me joy! You can see images from one of the styled shoots here!
I met some of the kindest, most genuine people in the world and made some really wonderful friendships. It truly is a beautiful community and I am so thankful for the connections I made there! I think my favorite moment was at the very end of the conference, Courtney and Robert led the entire group in singing Amazing Grace. It is a tradition of the conference that speaks to our shared belief that God put all of us on this earth to impact the lives of those around us through pouring out His love and grace.
All in all, I left with a full notebook, full SD cards, and a full heart. It provided the encouragement and inspiration I had been longing for. I am so thankful to Courtney and Robert Cannon and all of the incredible people who made the Graceful Gathering possible. I hope to attend another one soon! If you are a photographer and are wondering if you should invest in this conference, I can say without reservation, it is so worth it. But more importantly, YOU are worth it!!!
Photo Credit: @thecannonsphotography
Furniture rentals: @pompparties
Welcome Ice Cream: @social_scoopz
Stage, linens, & tables: @sullysrental
Stage Florals: @stemfloralstudio
Dress Display, Gala Cake Sponsor & ring box swag: @thedressmedina
Day of Coordinators: @sirpillasoirees
Homemade pop tarts: @acupcakeaday
Signage, champagne sponsor,& vow books: @plumeandpaper
Schedule, Menu, & name tags: @brittneynoeldesigns
Branding & website design: @kristinleannedesigns
Coffee Bar: @clevelandespresso
Gala Florals: @dietzfloralstudio
Cookie Dough & Ice Cream Cart: @clecookiedough
Exhibit Vendors: @thesavvyrabbit @showit @redtreealbums @cloudSpot.io
Gala DJ: @onetentertainment
Gala dinner: @forno_wood_fired_pizza
Gala paintings: @mariejadeart