Have you ever been in such a place where you were overwhelmed with gratitude? A place where you cannot even fathom the connections you’ve actually created and how inspired your next days will be? I have. I am. That is today.

I’ve been in Phoenix for two weeks now. The purpose of the trip was twofold:

  1. photograph clients with my business partner in Portrait Unforgettable, Saray Taylor-Roman

  2. support my mentor, Sue Bryce in the Super Bowl of photographic conferences, The Portrait Masters

These adventures with The Portrait Masters and Sue Bryce Education are like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I try to liken them to different aspects of my life but truly, there’s nothing that compares. As I’m able to express my own gratitude for her education in my career, I am also able to lift others up through her teachings.

During the conference, it was my job to support the attendees in 1/25 shooting bays. Offering lighting guidance as well as posing assistance when requested. This is always so much fun for me because I love it when photographers get it and it clicks! Whether that’s in: focus and recomposition, jaw placement, how to create angles and shape with their subject, or in feathering light. They smile like they’ve just discovered a new country and their work is changed forever!

I remember when that happened for me too. And it’s true, my work truly was changed forever.

Now, as far as the conference itself goes, each of the speakers SHINE in their own ways. They speak directly to you. They are there because THEY ARE YOU. They’ve been where you’re sitting. They’ve finessed their workflow to incorporate more of what their soul is there TO CREATE and they share it openly and willingly and happily. It is a JOY to learn from these people.

  • Joel Grimes

  • Kara Marie

  • Lara Jade

  • Dayron Vera

  • Tony Carter

  • India Earle

  • Elena Shumilova

  • Matthew Jordan Smith

  • Sue Bryce

Now, I would be remiss if I did not address the loss of the keynote speaker. This man is a legend among Photographers and was lost the day before he was to speak at The Portrait Masters conference. The one and only, Peter Lindbergh. Sir, your philosophy, heart, and skill is that of kings on earth. I would have loved to hear you speak however, your legacy is one that we will all carry forward in our work. Thank you for your joy, your influence, your dedication, and your heartfelt appreciation for womankind. You will be missed for centuries to come.

Peter Lindbergh - photographic legend

We took a moment of silence for Peter. For him, for his family, and for everyone who loved him. And then we moved forward with the conference to empower photographers in their own portrait photography to bring beauty and light into the world through their clientele.

After the speakers spoke to you, shared their curated workflows and concepts, after the attendees enjoyed the shooting and shopping in the trade show floor, we all made friends. We all met and played, and dined together, and celebrated the culmination of this event. We were all inspired to BE MORE.

I’ve made new friends. I’ve reconnected with old friends. I’ve depended connections. I sang by the fire. I sat up all night talking. I saw work and gave critique to photographers who BLEW ME AWAY! I photographed beautiful men and women ready to be cared for and shown their own light and beauty. I sang, and sang, and sang at full power until I could barely speak as it’s the first time in more than four years my voice has met me. My heart is full.

My heart is full.

portfolio critique - documentarian - rodeo - photographer
My partner in Portrait Unforgettable Saray Taylor Roman and amazing hair by Kristen KC Colemon

My partner in Portrait Unforgettable Saray Taylor Roman and amazing hair by Kristen KC Colemon

All of Sue’s Supporters singing karaoke with Sue Bryce and Lara Jade (Thats me behind Sue’s left shoulder). Image credit - Jason Vinson

All of Sue’s Supporters singing karaoke with Sue Bryce and Lara Jade (Thats me behind Sue’s left shoulder). Image credit - Jason Vinson

Now, before you’re wondering too deeply about my waxing poetic on my clients from Arizona, they will each be featured separately with Portrait Unforgettable. Each of these women deserves to have their stories told and not lumped in with my conference ramblings here. They’re spectacular women. Goddesses. Daughters. Mothers. Business owners. Loves. So keep your eyes peeled there as we move forward.

In the meantime, I’ve been tasked two things:

  1. Start shooting on my medium format again. Ok Jonny Edward, I hear you. Challenge accepted.

  2. Balance my masculine and feminine. Now, that being said, I’m swimming with this for a bit. Swirling, if you will. I am very comfortable in my own masculine energy. Much of my “femme” is brought forth in my work however it’s been brought to light that that simply isn’t enough to be balanced and strong as a woman. In fact, my lack in balance is repelling in some cases. So, stay tuned as we’re about to unmask a side of me that I have not brought to light in a VERY long time. I imagine there will be resistance but, that comes with any development doesn’t it?

What used to protect us inevitably becomes a burden. Tread carefully.

Also, I want to thank the following people for helping me find my voice again. She has been missing for more than four years and while devastating during that period, I’ve had to accept it. She would not meet me. A few weeks back I was invited to a friend’s to “sing” and connect and I accepted. It was the first time I was able to sing, a bit rusty in delivery but at relatively strong power. I sang with that same man, and a few friends around a fire this week and then again at the closing karaoke show AT FULL POWER and even now it makes me want to cry. I haven’t heard my voice in years. She is tired and I am giving her rest but she has rejoined me and that energy is already showing back up in my world and I am open to receiving. It’s beautiful. Thank you:

  • Artemas Mott

  • Parker Pfister

  • Matt Stagliano

  • Sue Bryce

  • Aaron Jay Young

  • Jonny Edward

Gentlemen (& Sue of course), if it weren’t for you holding that space, she would still be quieted and I cannot thank you enough. Truly.

Celebration

As of September 2019, I am officially an accredited Master Photographer through The Portrait Masters. I have spent two years creating work for these awards and as a Supporter of Sue I cannot “win” categories however I CAN achieve. There are three tiers to their accreditation and I am honored to have reached the second level of Master Photographer. I will be working for the next round of entries in January to submit toward my fellowship status and int he meantime, it is a privilege to stand amongst these women here. I am inspired by them almost daily and so grateful they are MY TRIBE.

Thank you for the love. Thank you for the challenges. Thank you for the opportunity to be MORE every single day.

You can see some of my awarded work here.

L to R: Lenka Jones, Michelle Taylor, Ann Landstrom, Kitti McMeel, myself, Saray Tylor Roman, Tammy Zurak, Bethany Johs, Ashleigh Taylor Henning, Rosaura Sandoval

L to R: Lenka Jones, Michelle Taylor, Ann Landstrom, Kitti McMeel, myself, Saray Tylor Roman, Tammy Zurak, Bethany Johs, Ashleigh Taylor Henning, Rosaura Sandoval

To the team and company that is The Portrait Masters: Sue Bryce, George Varanakis, Craig Swanson, Aaron Anderson, et al THANK YOU. Thank you for the opportunity to share this education. Thank you for the opportunity to represent your brand with pride and honor. Thank you for the opportunity to support your business that way yours has supported mine in education and empowerment. It is MY honor and privilege to work with you.

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