Last weekend I had an incredible experience at the Out of Chicago Summer Conference in Chicago, IL. When I first learned of this event though some random googling, I was amazed at how many really great photographers would be there speaking and teaching.  I knew I had to sign up so I immediately purchased my registration and booked a room for the weekend.

It was great to have learned directly from the following photographers:

Bryan Peterson

Bryan’s full day workshop taught me to always be looking for new and unique compositions. He showed the benedits of using a telephoto lens to get close to small subjects. He showed me how to look for textures to photograph such as torn book pages.

Jim Harmer

Jim’s full day workshop was a lot of fun too!  We were joined by a professional model, Selena Roque, who was amazing!  We created our images with natural light and with a speedlight/softbox combo.  Having limited experience shooting people, it was really fun to try it out.  I think I really liked it and might persue more portrait photography in the very near future.  

I also took two classes that Jim taught where he shared valuable information about how to get our images noticed on the web and also the importance of differentiating our work from everything else that is out there because let’s face it, a lot of people kind of have the same style.  That goes for my own landscapes too!  I see now that I need to start looking for something different.


Steve Brokaw

I attended a class with Steve that I found very fascinating.  Steve is a very talented fashion photographer and he gave us an insight in to that world.  He went over the members of his team for photoshoots and his basic workflow from finding clients to delivering final images.  I really hope to take an instructional workshop from Steve in the future.

Ken Koskela

I attended a class and 2 hour photowalk with Ken Koskela.  Ken is a travel photographer who’s style inccludes taking environmental portraits with a wide angle lens.  The trick is to go really wide angle and get close to the subject.  Surprisingly I didn’t really see any distortion of the subject even though I was at 16mm (APS-C).  It is a really unique style that I actually like very much.  Ken brought two of his friends, Gia and Mike, to the photowalk to be models for us and they were really great!  I definttely hope to explore this style of portraiture in the future.

Ralph Velasco

Ralph taught a session showing us how we can get better shots from trips/vacations by working with a shot list.  The trick is to come up with some applicable categories and come home with 5 quality images from each of them.  This is really helpful for me since I usually go on trips pretty blind as to what I want to photograph.  I will definitely take this advice to heart.

Jimmy McIntryre

Jimmy is a photographer I’ve been following for a while on YouTube.  He creates so many great instruction tutorals on exposure blending using luminosity masks.  I used to be really in to HDR photography and, like most newbies, I tended to go really far with my images until they looked unreal and almsot radioactive.  With luminostiy masks you can bring back highlights without affecting color at all which leaves you with a much more realistic image.  During Jimmy’s talk he spoke about his experiences when he first decided to do travel photography as a professional.  He gave us insights in to his first couple of years and shared with us things he wished he had known before he made the leap to pro.

James Maher

James is a street photographer from New York City and I decided to really branch out from my comfort zone and attend one of his photowalks.  I had a lot of fun on this walk and James was great and was a great tacher of the style, but it wasn’t for me.  Taking unsolicited pictures of random people was very uncomfortable.  I did find a cat on the street, which seemed unusual to me, who didn’t mind getting his picture taken.  🙂


Matt Kloskowski

Back to landscapes!  Matt is a very talented landscape photographer who taught a lesson on his post processing workflow for his images.  He took a photo from RAW to final image and gave a step by step tutorial on his workflow.  He also taled about different light qualities to look for when out on location or planning for a location.  It was really helpful!

Steve Nielson

Steve Nielson’s photowalk was awesome!  This walk was less of a photowalk and more of a standard photoshoot and I was fine with that!  He had a model come in and showed us how he would set us a photoshoot using just a couple of speedlights.


Friday Night Photo Crawl

Ever hear of a pub crawl?  Sure you have!  How about a photo crawl?  Same idea but they replaced pubs with photo locations around Chicago.  Downtown Chicago has a lot of great photographic opportunities in a relatively small area.  All the speakers were positioned at these locations and we were all free to bounce from location to location and get tips and tricks from the pros.  This was a lot of fun and really good excersice!


Rick Sammon’s Keynote Address

This year’s keynote speaker was Rick Sammon.  His presentation was about how to get inspired and stay motivated.  

Scott Bourne’s Closing Presentation

Scott’s closing presentation was nothing short of amazing!  He spoke about how we should all use our photography to make our imact on the world.  This imact doesn’t have to affect the whole world, but our photography can affect one person in a positive way and that would mean the world to them.

This entire conference was such an eye opening experience for me.  It was so amazing to learn from professional photographers that I really admire.  It was fun to try new photgraphic styles and learn new ways to go about my own style.  I am now more motivated than ever about my photography and I can’t wait to go to an Out of Chicago event in the future!

I have an album on my Facebook page where I will be posting more images from this event.