I joined Professional Photographers of the Ozarks around the same time I joined the Missouri State affiliate group in 2019. It wasn't until 2021 that I decided to attend the annual conference. Professional Photographers of the Ozarks consists of 4 states: Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas & Oklahoma. This year's conference was in Joplin, MO.
After attending the State conference, I knew I was ready to take on the Regional Conference, FOCUS. FOCUS is a 3-day conference, consisting of classes, shoot outs and social events. Perfect for learning, networking and competing with fellow photographers! This time, I brought my camera with me! And let me tell ya, it was AMAZING!
I arrived on Friday, October 1st. I got all checked into the hotel, picked up my badge and headed to the Pre-Con class happening over at Grand Falls. If you haven't been there, it's a gorgeous little stop with rocks and beautiful waterfalls. It was the perfect location for the class as it was a long time Senior Portrait Photographer photographing a Senior Model. It's always neat to see other professionals and how they do their work. I fully believe there is always something to learn. New ideas, new poses, different lighting techniques, etc. After class, I grabbed some dinner and headed to bed for the next day.
Saturday was full of great things! First thing at 9:00 am is Club 79! Club 79 is, hands down, the best way to learn about image competition. You're in a room full of fellow photographers, watching the images get judged one by one. It sounds scary, but it's full of valuable information! I'll admit, it's not easy hearing an image didn't score as well as you thought it might, but compared to the hundreds of other images, you start to see where you could improve or what you could do differently for next time. Image competition is, by far, the best education you can get! It is the most intense, but very well worth it! The incredible amount of knowledge you gain is invaluable. I highly recommend all photographers challenge themselves and enter all the image competitions! Everyone is so nice, helpful and willing to share tips, tricks and more. After Club 79, is classes, a break for lunch, then more classes. After a day full of classes, you get a break for dinner, then, it's party time! Music, dancing, drinks, costumes, shoot outs, and fun times! This year's theme was "Popping Tags", so anything from a thrift store goes! I may have spent most of the party time doing the shoot outs.
Sunday was more classes and the Awards Banquet with Silent Auction. I won my first trophy this year! 1st Place in the Childrens category. Needless to say, I was pretty proud of myself! I had also won a scholarship to attend Focus '22 next year! Of course, I'm going!!!
Monday was a half day of classes and the end of the conference. I was actually kind of sad having to say goodbye to my current friends and my new friends. Everyone was starting to feel like family, and I had the best time! Such a great group of people! Here's some images from a truly great weekend! Enjoy!
Seriously, though! If you haven't joined the Professional Photographers of America or its affiliates in your area, you really should!
To join the Professional Photographers of the Ozarks, CLICK HERE!