I want to start by saying this blog is not sponsored by anyone and the thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not obligated or given any thing by anyone associated with ClickCon or any other company to post this blog.
I was super nervous to say the least. After all, this was my first photography conference I've been blessed to attend. For those who may not know me, I’m what many would call a bon-a-fied introvert. The sheer thought of talking to people I don’t know freaks me out. But here I stood, the night before the conference, (in the middle of Michigan Avenue) trying to pretend like I belong. The night before the conference, and my confidence was already shaken. I called my wife. I was ready to come home.
It wasn’t until day one of the conference, I started to gain more confidence. The keynote speaker Jerry Ghionis kicked things off with an emotional pep talk that energized the entire room. From that moment on, it was all business. Running from class to class, I never had time to sink into my fears and insecurities. Before I knew it, I was running around Chicago doing everything with everyone; talking and joking around with anyone that would allow me to. On top of that, the night photo walks were amazing. Walking around doing photo shoots at 3am with other photographers that have the same goals, you can’t put a price tag on that experience. I no longer wanted to run home with my tail between my legs, it wanted this to last forever.
The remaining days moved extremely fast. Bouncing from class to class at a rapid pace. I believe there were maybe 15-20 mins to get from class to class. Soaking up knowledge from very talented instructors. From shooting in harsh lighting conditions to posing clients in the most flattering ways, the instructors left nothing off the table. Any questions you had, they answered them honestly and didn't hold back.
We did get a few hours of downtime for lunch, however, that time was mainly spent hunting thru the conference show room floor for deals and steals from the many vendors in attendance. I managed to snag a Tamron 24-70 lens and Godox AD600 Pro. I also managed to come away with a few led lights as well. Yeah, I had the gear bug big time. After I came down from my Gear high, I had to figure out how to get all this stuff home to Georgia. Lucky enough, there was a FedEx store within the Hilton Hotel. They packed it, boxed it, and it was home before I was (which left another uncomfortable conversation with my wife). Between the show floor seminars and the tons of shooting bays, I feel like if I left the floor, I would miss something.
All this running around left very little time to eat. If you are able to get up early in the morning, grab something to eat. You'll need it. I was not as fortunate as I'm just not a morning person. I usually had enough time to wash up and grab a cup of coffee from the neighboring Dunkin Donuts. That was literally my breakfast every day. Lunch was spent in the shooting bays and the showroom floor. Dinner was spent doing after hours shoots and photo walks. I thank God for the person that invented Uber Eats and DoorDash. Once I got to my room around 2am, I had iHop delivered to my room every night (or morning depending on your perspective). Falling asleep around 4am and getting up around 7am to do it all over again.
ClickCon Max was... WOW! You get on a shuttle bus, and it takes you to a disclosed location, where you shoot a themed photo shoot. This year I chose Run Way on the Rooftop and Super Heroes. You are there for a few hours getting amazing shots with beautiful locations and talented models. Its where you get a chance to put everything you just learned to the test. This is definitely a portfolio building excursion. I won't say any more than that, as words would not do it enough justice. You will have to experience Max on your own. It's worth every penny.
With that said, I have a few tips for anyone that so happened to stumble onto this blog. and want to attend ClickCon for the 1st time:
- 1) Sleep is for the weak. Kidding. You will likely not gain much rest during this conference, especially if you want to get to most out of it. I slept roughly 3 hours a night. Sometime 2 hours depending on the shoot.
- 2) Wear some extremely comfortable shoes. I thought I had comfortable shoes and still wanted to cut off my feet.
- 3) Grab yourself a few snacks to keep you on your game thru out the day. Water is a must. Don't be like me, take care of yourself.
- 4) Be strategic when choosing your classes. Know what you need to get better at. Mix in some lecture classes with hands-on classes so you're not burned out.
- 5) Ask tons of questions. You typically already know what you need answers to. Write them down so you're not scrambling. Instructors are willing to answer anything you throw at them.
- 6) Check the ClickCon Facebook page regularly and engage. A ton of after-hours shoots develop on this page. Engaging with like-minded photographers and models also made me feel more comfortable when I saw them in person (Introvert tip).
- 7) Stay at the host hotel if you can. There is so much going in that hotel. The best way to not miss much, is to stay where the action is.
To sum things up, ClickCon was an amazing experience that started months before the conference. I remember having an issue (I will spare you the details). Sherry Hagerman, the founder of ClickCon reached out to be directly to resolve it. When I say she is dedicated to ensuring that everyone has the time of their lives, I'm not kidding. It's an experience you just have to try. I'm already booked for ClickCon 2020 and I can't wait to experience this all over again.
You can visit the ClickCon site by clicking here.