If you had to go on a last-minute trip before your 30th birthday, I suppose Las Vegas would be at the top of most people’s list. Our good friend, and founder of Fotolanthropy, Katie Norris was still in need of a travel buddy for WPPI and I volunteered to tag along. For those of you not familiar with the photography world, WPPI a huge annual photography conference, bringing together thousands of photographers from all over the world. It’s pretty massive, and although I am not a photographer, I figured I could pick up a few ideas for Jon and I as well.
I’d love to share all my crazy “first-timer in Vegas” stories with you but unfortunately I was pretty lame in Vegas terms. I did have a chance to check out a the trade show and see a few people in the photography world that I pay attention to . . .until I got sick. I wish I could say there was a crazy story that precedes my illness, but again, I have nothing other than my body giving me some major attitude about the fact that I stayed up until 3am Tuesday morning. I did win $90 off of $1 at a slot machine but that’s about as exciting as it gets. I was so glad to finally be feeling better this morning after 24hrs in bed. I’m finally at the airport and it is taking all my will power sitting here outside the TCBY/Mrs. Fields counter not to attack it like a tiger, since I have not eaten in 48hrs.
The main reason for this post is not to bore you with my lame-o tales of Vegas (or lack-there-of). I wanted to share the one amazing thing I did get to witness on this trip. Although Katie is a portrait and wedding photographer, her main purpose for attending WPPI was to get the word out about Fotolanthropy. To read more about Fotolanthropy, you can visit their website fotolanthropy.com and check out this new video we did with Katie to announce Fotolanthropy going national.
First let me set the stage a little for you. If you’re a photographer, WPPI is that place you want to be. In 2011, almost 16,000 photographer attended WPPI – to give you a sense of the scale of this conference – so it’s definitely easy to feel immediately overwhelmed. There are tons of classes, and huge trade show and the chance to meet some big name photographers (unfortunately you learn some of these said “A-Listers” are a little too aware of this, major let down!).
Yet, in the midst of all the chaos, I watched Katie tell people about Fotolanthropy like she was a seasoned pro. Whether it was another photographer like herself, a big-name photo lab at the trade show, or well-know personalities in the photo world such as Kelley Moore or Jeremy Cowart, Katie put all doubts aside and fearlessly shared her story and mission with anyone she met. Me being an especially shy and quiet person, I was so amazed and proud of her and it was just so neat to watch the way the right people just happened to fall into Katie’s path.
This morning I was finally feeling better and Katie and I had a chance to attend Jeremy Cowart’s class. So refreshing and truly an inspiring artist – but that is a whole other blog post. However, after the class, Katie patiently waited in the back of the line to talk to Jeremy. When she finally got her chance, I watched her passionately tell Jeremy about her mission and she handed him a pamphlet. Later, as we were chatting with someone else in the back of the room, I turned to look up front and saw him showing Katie’s pamphlet to another photographer and sharing Fotolanthropy. Now, this is a guy who’s photographed everyone from Britney Spears to Tim Tebow to Brad Paisley just to name A FEW. He could have easily blown off Katie as some nobody photographer. Likewise, Katie could have easily said “well, I don’t want to bother him. The line is so long and I need to get to the airport.”
It is so hard, no matter how passionate you are about something, to step over that line and begin sharing it with others. Whether it’s an idea you have like Fotolanthropy, your faith, or just sharing yourself when you meet new people. The fear of rejection is painful, no matter who you are. But watching Katie this weekend was really so inspiring. Despite being sick and everything, I think just having the opportunity to watch Katie cast all fears and insecurities aside and put herself and her mission out there was so amazing to witness. I for reals almost cried a few times, especially this morning. I am so incredibly proud of her and could really not feel more honored to call her a friend after this weekend.
If you are wondering how you can help Fotolanthropy, the best thing you can do is share it with others. Whether it’s photographers & filmmakers who may be interested in being involved, a family you might know who would make a great story for Fotolanthropy to feature, or maybe just sharing one of the films with someone in your life who’s facing a difficult time. This is the heart and soul of Fotolanthropy. You can also purchase cute (and super comfy) t-shirts, camera accessories for kids, and soon camera straps to help support this awesome mission.
I can’t end this without mentioning Katie’s partner in Fotolanthropy, Brooke. Althgouh Brooke was unable to attend WPPI with us, I know she was very much with us in spirit. Brooke has been working hard behind the scenes to help Katie develop these awesome classy camera straps that will be on sale soon to help support Fotolanthropy. I can’t wait for next year when we can all return to Vegas together.