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WPPI Road Trip to Washington D.C.

"this is a pivotal moment in my life... where my dream -- just got that much closer to reality..." ~jamilah
[just wanted to start with what I wrote at the end... just in case you don't finish the long read]

A week ago today, I woke up at 3:30 in the morning -- anxiety stricken with the need to make sure I didn't sleep through my alarm.  I fell back asleep, only to wake up again an hour later feeling the same way.  I laid there in my hotel room, filled with excitement and anxiety of what the day would bring me.  This would be my very first huge professional photography conference, flying all the way to D.C.  WPPI [Wedding & Portrait Photographers International] is traveling around the nation stopping at 10 different cities, bringing top photographers to speak about various business & photography topics. After checking out the different speakers, I knew what city I had to attend -- DC!! This is where Jasmine Star was going to speak -- and this is where I had to go.  We all have our idols... whether it's Heidi Klum from Project Runway... Ellen or Oprah... or even a college professor... someone you look up to and simply admire -- for who they are & for their accomplishments... well, my photography idol is Jasmine Star -- the queen of gorgeous photography, beautiful words, and such an inspiring speaker... she is as incredible in capturing people as she is as a blogger & speaker... And. I. Love. Her! Her work... and her way with words... for me, I think it's her blatant honesty in her blog posts that reels people in... with as many as 200 people at a time leaving comments on her daily blog... so there, it's not just me =)

So back to my story... laying there in bed... thinking about my crazy journey... flying all the way to DC from Florida... and to be honest -- I. Was. Scared! Scared for so many reasons... What if they didn't have my name on the registry? What if there are no seats left? What if I run into Jasmine Star in the bathroom -- what do I do (ask for her picture right then and there)? What if my new shoes kill me? Huhhhh... Then, I stopped those thoughts... and told myself to just have fun! It'll be alright...

My day -- was way beyond alright... it was exceptionally epic! On top of meeting so many photographers that shared the same passion and as eager to learn as I was -- I made friends, listened to incredible photographers speak about posing, work flow, lighting, marketing and so much more, I got to meet many sponsors in the industry with incredible products, and I got to meet (shake hands/hug/and take pictures with) all the speakers =) Yes, which means I got to meet Jasmine Star! And I kept telling myself all day, I didn't fly all this way to just sit and observe. Darnit, I am walking away from this with at least a picture with her!

At the end of the day, I walked away feeling a bit light headed -- overwhelmed with information & filled with inspiration... My heart was filled to the brim with inspiration, motivation, and courage to go after my dream! I didn't want the day to end! Needless to say, my worries were all in vein.  They had my name at the registry, complete with a name tag that had my name and my company on it. And the nerd that I was, I was the 4th person to arrive that morning and got a front row seat!  I didn't run into Jasmine Star in the bathroom, but I did manage to meet her & snapped a shot with her.  (Yay!)  And my feet did kill, but it was ok because I stuffed my purse with emergency flats -- just in case =)

I'm not going to bore you with all the pages of notes I took... but I will leave you with images from my day... and with that a disclaimer: all photos were taken with my iPhone -- so they were all pretty much horribly lit and shakey & very grainy... but I don't care... because this is all the memento I have from my epic day! These images... along with the knowledge & inspiration all of the wonderful speakers left in my heart...

Awesome host & photographer, Jared Bauman, giving us his 5 tips on running a successful business...

Photojournalist, Greg Gibson, taking us through his work flow...

Then we had a 30 minute coffee break, which was breakfast time for me... on the elevator I bumped into a girl who was also looking for breakfast, so why not eat together?... and lucky for me, because they weren't accepting credit cards at the time -- so this girl was sweet enough to lend me $5 to pay for my breakfast! Thanks, Katia!

After our break, Clay Blackmore showed us the ropes on proper posing & lighting... he was so energetic & enthusiastic (and spoke too fast) -- I couldn't keep up with note taking... so I just sat and enjoyed his lively presentation... he was fantastic and does incredible work!

Yup! I got a shot with him!

After lunch, portrait & fashion photographer Lindsay Adler taught us how to organize & archive our images properly... how to protect our images... and properly tag our work... she showed us amazing tools on Lightroom3 & the ins and outs of other photography software... on top of a great presentation -- she sent us a link to download all the notes the next day! Talk about organized! Huh... a woman after my own heart... I purchased her newly published book -- The Linked Photographers' Guide to Online Marketing and Social Media -- she autographed it for me AND I got a picture with her =)

Jared Bauman, pulling raffle tickets and giving away prizes... I didn't win... but a girl in my row won two or three times... so, I still consider it lucky that a fellow row mate won a ton of prizes... and really, I already felt lucky just to be there!

Finally, the last presenter... the photographer I flew 1,200 miles to see... who I've been waiting to see all day... Jasmine Star! I can't even believe that I was right there! Front row, right in front of her... right in front of all the speakers! It makes me giggle!! How exciting, right??

In the image below is Jasmine in the center, me on the right, and a new friend Madalina (the girl I sat next to in the front row)... we hung out during our breaks, exchanged cards and met Jasmine Star together... giggling like starstruck teenagers... excited at the chance of meeting an idol...
Jasmine was an incredible speaker... truly a remarkable story teller... and an inspiring photographer & person... not only did we get to have a snap shot with her... but we chatted for a bit and laughed on how she mispronounced my name during a live workshop where I Tweeted a question to her... she answered my online query, but totally butchered my name... Jam --e--liah... and I didn't even care she butchered it (because everyone does at first look), because I was screaming to my husband that my question was read out loud by Jasmine & she said my name! HA! She said my name! Well, kind of... so back to DC, I gave Jasmine a tip on remembering my name... I told her (like I tell everyone I first meet to shake out any mispronunciations that may occur) -- I told her, it's Jamilah... like vanilla... lol... corny, I know! But it's the only way I can explain how to say my name properly... and guess what? people actually do remember it... maybe Jasmine will remember it... maybe not... but I definitely will remember not only meeting my idol, but meeting so many talented & incredibly amazing photographers in the industry... And I will remember this pivotal moment in my life where my dream --- just got that much closer to reality...


Kfo-tography said...

OMG Jamilah!!!I love love this post!and as I was reading through it I realized "there is a picture of me with you" hahaha :) Girl you just made my week!!!Thank you so much!!Stay wonderful!and you were very smart and at least took pictures with your phone, I am a photographer and it didn't occured to me to capture some moments as you did!!!so, camera or not, you are a great photographer. Take care

Sarah :) said...

this is SO fun! how awesome that you were able to meet J*..LOVE her and you ;)

Kindra said...

I'm so happy for you milah! I'm excited for you that you are pursuing your dream with such great enthusiasm! Your energy just flows off the page! Live you girl!

Jasmine said...

It was SO nice meeting you, Jamilah! :)