Have you ever looked forward to something so much that you built it up in your head and were ultimately disappointed because your expectations were just too high? I’m excited to share that this was NOT the case with Showit United 2019!
This photography conference in Phoenix, Arizona didn’t just meet my expectations; it exceeded them! And, I’m so excited to share this amazing experience and lots of desert photos on the blog!
In case you aren’t familiar with Showit, Showit is a web design company based in Arizona that’s invented a drag and drop website builder specifically for photographers. (Side note: Photographers, if you’re looking for a web design platform, I can’t recommend Showit enough! My background is in marketing, so I personally use WordPress because I have enough coding knowledge to get by, but if web development isn’t your area of expertise, Showit is absolutely the way to go!)
To serve their photography community, Showit puts on United—a conference for photographers—every year in Phoenix Arizona.
This four-day event is full of incredible speakers (many of whom are photographers I admire more than I can express in this blog post), styled shoots in the desert, meeting photographers across the country, delicious food (I have to say one of the things I appreciate most about this conference is how once your ticket and hotel are purchased, you have very few expenses after that!), and lots of dancing.
I’ve wanted to go to United for the last couple years, but with my wedding schedule, it hadn’t worked out. However, when my good friend Sarah of Sarah Elizabeth Photos said she’d go with me, I decided it was time to officially take the plunge, block out the weekend, and go to Arizona. And, I’m so glad I did!
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I wish I would’ve taken more photos while we were there, but here’s a bit of a breakdown of what we did every day and a few photos!
On Sunday, Sarah and I left super early and flew out of Indianapolis. With a layover, we got to Phoenix in the afternoon and were greeted at the airport with hugs from Showit staff and a shuttle to The Buttes—the resort where the conference was hosted.
Sarah and I explored the resort, looked at lots of cacti, and took headshots for one another. That night, the conference officially kicked off with drinks and appetizers (The tacos were SO good!).
We weren’t expecting them to be there, but Sarah and I quickly realized that some of our favorite photographers and other industry leaders who were speaking at the conference were also attending the welcome night. I mean, imagine going out for drinks and seeing several of your favorite athletes/musicians/heroes just walking around!
To be honest, I don’t think there’s a celebrity out there that I’m dying to meet (Okay, Bruno Mars, but that’s it.), but it was surreal to meet photographers and educators who have made a huge impact in my life and business through online courses and podcasts. It was amazing!
On Monday morning, I had a styled shoot organized by Christianne Taylor. You can see photos and a list of vendors who made this beautiful shoot possible below!
To be honest, this shoot isn’t something I would normally photograph, but it was a lot of fun to try something different. And, despite getting poked by a cactus or two, I LOVED shooting in the desert!
Workshop & Styling: Christianne Taylor
Set Rentals: Dang Fine Rentals
Florals: Kate Mellow of Bloom & Blueprint
Hair Stylist: Carissa Mott
Makeup Artist: Style Me Kristi
Black Bell Sleeve Western Dress: Maison K Styles
Vintage Navajo Jewelry: Peregrine Galleries
After the shoot, our schedule was packed with wonderful keynote and breakout presentations. It was an incredible thing to hear Natalie Franke speak about resilience from the main stage (More on this later!) and to get tangible Instagram tips and tricks from Jasmine Star.
For my breakout sessions, I attended a session on posing by Catherine Guidry, a session about creating magic moments for your clients by Jeff Kaylor, and a session about wedding albums by Shaun Gordon—the owner of KISS Books, which is located in Indianapolis and my favorite album company!
One of the highlights from Monday, though, was rounding the corner after lunch and running into Katelyn James and Amy Demos! I promised myself I wouldn’t fan girl too hard, but when you run into two of the women you admire most as photographers, businesses owners, and believers, you have to hug them and ask for a photo!
The night concluded with drinks and dinner at The Social Hall, which was also delicious! I love Mexican food, so I was very excited to have another night of tacos, chips, and guac!
Host/Photographer: Elizabeth Austin Photography
Stylist: Chic & Pretty Events
Hair & Make Up: Makia J Beauty
Floral: Carte Blanche Design
Stationary: Acqua & Ink
Ring: Finer Jewelry
Rentals: Bright Event Rentals
Amy and Jordan grabbed a photo with all of their online students! I’m on the left, but good luck finding me! They’ve influenced so many photographers!
After our last breakout session, Sarah and I hurried to get ready for Showit United 2019’s annual gala at the Legacy Golf Resort, which was beautiful and a great excuse to get dressed up!
I’m so thankful this lovely friend was willing to go to Showit United 2019 with me! So thankful for you, Sarah!
These are just phone photos, so they aren’t the best quality, but Sarah and I spent a lot of time with photographers Rachel Stelter and Olivia Stouffer. It was so great to make new friends! And, I can’t help sharing this photo of me in a Demos sandwich!!
At the gala, photographers were set up to take “dramatic portraits,” so you know that had to happen!
Our final day at United included one breakout session (I attended a break out about quarterly planning with Kat Schmoyer, which was amazing!) and final keynote presentations by Davey Jones (Whom I respect so much! I love his Brands that Book podcast!) and Montana Dennis.
Our flight didn’t leave until Wednesday evening, so Sarah and I went to In-N-Out to drown our sorrows about going back to the cold with burgers, fries, and milkshakes.
I’ve been to countless conferences where you leave feeling fired up and ready to make big changes with everything you’ve learned. And, I’m certainly excited to start implementing many of the things I learned at United.
But, I have to say it was a breath of fresh air to hear speaker after speaker and industry leader after industry leader be open and vulnerable about what “hustling” has cost them over the years and how—even when you reach the top—you won’t feel fulfilled and life won’t be perfect.
For example, Natalie Franke told us how she used to get overwhelmed and cry over her laptop because she was overworking herself. Katelyn James shared how her business and workaholic tendencies have put stress on her marriage over the years.
Basically, Showit United 2019 focused on how, as photographers, we can use our skills and cameras with the purpose of serving others, but being photographers is not our purpose. And, there’s more to life than work, followers, and status.
All of United was incredible, but because this conference is run by people and speakers who care just as much—if not more—about attendees’ mental, emotional, and spiritual health than their businesses, I can’t recommend this photography conference enough!
Next year, I’m hoping Zach will be able to meet up with me after the conference so we can see the Grand Canyon, visit more of Arizona, and—of course—have our photos taken in the desert!
Until then, I’m so excited to start implementing things I learned at Showit United 2019 so I can better serve my wonderful brides and grooms!