Not long ago I returned from PPA’s Imaging USA which was held in New Orleans, LA. It was my first photography conference because until now I could not convince myself that it was worth the effort. My wife and I made a snap decision to attend just a few days before Imaging USA was to begin. She and our son went for the food and the city (hosted in New Orleans) and of course I went for everything photo related. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew there would be some vendors there and that there were a few classes offered.
I was amazed at just how many vendors were present and how many classes were offered. Almost any type of vendor you could think of was there ready to talk about their products (past, present, and future). There were 70+ classes offered with subjects ranging from lighting to business methods. There was certainly a lot to be learned at these classes and a lot for me to consider going forward.
In addition to what was being offered some of the most prominent photographers in the industry were there giving lectures or just meeting and greeting. I had the chance to rub elbows with individuals I have followed through books and the internet for years. I got to shake hands with Bill Fortney (http://billfortney.com/) and spend a bit of time talking to him! If you don’t know who he is then you are missing something.
The bottom line is this: Try to make it a point to attend at least one photography conference every year. It will help you keep the pulse of the industry and will allow you to meet folks you might not otherwise have had the chance to meet.