Inspire Photo Retreats

For the past four winters, I've attended Inspire Photo Retreat, a 3-day retreat/seminar/convention for professional photographers.  It's about 250ish photographers, mostly from New England, with workshops, mentoring, and networking.  It's a fantastic event to attend for new and veteran photographers alike.

On the surface, it may seem like any other professional conference - classes for business growth, hands-on techniques, and networking with others in the industry.  Attend Inspire and you'll soon learn that it's much more than that.   Community and vulnerability are recurring themes at Inspire.  Most, if not all, of the attendees, speakers, and planners are small business owners. Whether a brand new part-time photographer or a veteran studio owner with 20+ years experience and a dozen employees, life isn't always easy running a small business.  Juggling personal life and business priorities in a rapid and ever-changing industry can be taxing and difficult.  Inspire gives us the opportunity to come together to share ideas, make new friends, and remind each other that we're not alone in our business.

So when the organizers of Inspire approached me and asked if I would be interested in being the official photographer, I was humbled, honored, excited, and scared.  I mean, being the photographer for an event FOR photographers?  Talk about pressure!  I weighed the pros and cons in my head, debating whether it would be worth it, whether I was good enough, if others would like my work, and if I could even handle it.  I ultimately decided that I would regret not shooting Inspire if I turned down the opportunity.  After all, in the words of The Great One, my pal Wayne Gretzky, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" (an apt quote for photographers!).

It was three days of hard work - waking up early and going to bed late, but definitely worth it in the end.  All the attendees, speakers, and staff were incredibly appreciative of my work, I made connections with other photographers I wouldn't have otherwise made, and I was once again reminded that I'm not alone in my photography business, despite being a "sole" proprietor.  These are some of my favorite photos from the retreat.  I encourage anyone in the photography business to check out Inspire, and if you want more information, head over to their website to learn a little more, or ask me about my experience.

Special thanks to the Inspire planning team, Enna, Mark, and Eric, the Hyatt Regency in Newport, RI for their hospitality, Stephanie Frazier Grimm from Couture Parties for making sure everything ran smoothly, David Long and Jon Martinez of Epic Filmmakers, for filming the event and being awesome to work alongside, Rob Alberti, the AV guru and master DJ, for his technical expertise, and all the sponsors that helped make Inspire possible.  And of course, the speakers and attendees, for being a bomb-diggity community!

 Setting up for registration and getting name tags organized.

Setting up for registration and getting name tags organized.

 Some early morning martial arts in the lobby and folks trickling in.

Some early morning martial arts in the lobby and folks trickling in.

 Designating table numbers behind the scenes...and hugs.  Lots of hugs at Inspire :)

Designating table numbers behind the scenes...and hugs.  Lots of hugs at Inspire :)

 The organizers of Inspire, Enna Grazier, Mark Higgins, and Eric Foley, giving their welcome intro during lunch.

The organizers of Inspire, Enna Grazier, Mark Higgins, and Eric Foley, giving their welcome intro during lunch.

 Introduction of all the speakers of Inspire who dropped some dope knowledge bombs throughout the 3-day conference.

Introduction of all the speakers of Inspire who dropped some dope knowledge bombs throughout the 3-day conference.

 Cig Harvey giving an inspirational all-community workshop.

Cig Harvey giving an inspirational all-community workshop.

 Day 1 workshop with Mark Janzen.

Day 1 workshop with Mark Janzen.

 Mr. Dave Jackson's concept shoot workshop.

Mr. Dave Jackson's concept shoot workshop.

 Hands-on workshops, taking pictures, and glitter.  All staples of Inspire.

Hands-on workshops, taking pictures, and glitter.  All staples of Inspire.

 Getting knowledge dropped on them like whoa!

Getting knowledge dropped on them like whoa!

 Ned Jackson and Leah Haydock in deep conversation, Robert Norman's encaustic class group's finished work, and some flash play in the hotel lounge.

Ned Jackson and Leah Haydock in deep conversation, Robert Norman's encaustic class group's finished work, and some flash play in the hotel lounge.

 Monday's welcome dinner was set up like a wedding reception!  No vendor meals in the back hallway this time though :)

Monday's welcome dinner was set up like a wedding reception!  No vendor meals in the back hallway this time though :)

 Stephanie Frazier Grimm giving her inspirational keynote speech, and Enna Grazier flexing those inspire guns :)

Stephanie Frazier Grimm giving her inspirational keynote speech, and Enna Grazier flexing those inspire guns :)

 PechaKucha followed dinner - each presenter is allotted 20 seconds for 20 photos each, to showcase their photo series.  Some very heartfelt and emotional stories.

PechaKucha followed dinner - each presenter is allotted 20 seconds for 20 photos each, to showcase their photo series.  Some very heartfelt and emotional stories.

 Day two begins with more classes, more knowledge bombs, and more of Dave Jackson's beard.

Day two begins with more classes, more knowledge bombs, and more of Dave Jackson's beard.

 My friends David Apuzzo and Carla Ten Eyck taking some impromptu portraits in the lobby.

My friends David Apuzzo and Carla Ten Eyck taking some impromptu portraits in the lobby.

 One-on-one mentoring sessions and random connections and conversations are some of the best parts of Inspire.

One-on-one mentoring sessions and random connections and conversations are some of the best parts of Inspire.

 More portraits in the lobby, because that's what happens when a bunch of photographers get together :)

More portraits in the lobby, because that's what happens when a bunch of photographers get together :)

 Mr. Eric Foley, master photo bomber.

Mr. Eric Foley, master photo bomber.

 My predecessor, Ms. Kate McElwee, did an awesome job photographing Inspire in 2014 and 2015...I had big shoes to fill!

My predecessor, Ms. Kate McElwee, did an awesome job photographing Inspire in 2014 and 2015...I had big shoes to fill!

 Fun times Tuesday night!  Cameo appearances by Boba Fett and Donald Trump.

Fun times Tuesday night!  Cameo appearances by Boba Fett and Donald Trump.

 Party time shenanigans Tuesday night.

Party time shenanigans Tuesday night.

 Wednesday, the last day of Inspire.

Wednesday, the last day of Inspire.

 The Hyatt gave out prizes!  The lucky winners, a selfie as I was being applauded for my work, and Paul, the owner of Lens Pro To Go, giving a heartfelt speech about community togetherness.

The Hyatt gave out prizes!  The lucky winners, a selfie as I was being applauded for my work, and Paul, the owner of Lens Pro To Go, giving a heartfelt speech about community togetherness.

 Portfolio reviews in the lobby, and Mr. Kenny Clapp trying out a fancy tilt-shift lens.

Portfolio reviews in the lobby, and Mr. Kenny Clapp trying out a fancy tilt-shift lens.

 The whole gang!  Amazing bunch of friends and colleagues.  My community :)

The whole gang!  Amazing bunch of friends and colleagues.  My community :)

And of course, no project would be complete without one of these...

 'Merica.

'Merica.