As far as workshops go, I was wholly unprepared for What If Day Camp from the very beginning. I’m going to be truthful — I didn’t know what What If was. My friends and fellow wedding photographers Christy Tyler and Katie Jane went to a week-long What If conference earlier in 2013, came home, and gushed. They said it changed their perspective on how they lived life and how they operated their businesses. But, they said, it was hard to explain what the conference was really like. So when the topic of a single-day camp (more of a workshop than a “camp”) came up, I was intrigued enough to buy the ticket, which was a pretty affordable $199. I bought mine early enough that I even got a $50 discount. A life-changing conference for only $149? Sure. Absolutely. In New York? Let’s do it.
One of the biggest reasons why I went to New York for this conference was to meet with other like-minded, awesome photographers I’ve gotten to know for the past three years online, as we were all converging in Brooklyn to attend. I was very happy to see Emilia Jane again (she’d visited Texas twice before) and to meet with Katie Jane, Amber Marlow, Kelly Prizel, and Sarah from Smitten Chickens.
I’d heard only good things about the conference, so I went to this shortened day camp version with good expectations. At the end of the conference, I wasn’t sure if those expectations had been met. But, it did give me a lot of things to think about, and I’ve been chewing all of that over for the past few weeks. Succinctly:
- Tamara Lackey talked about money.
- Jen Bebb talked about failure.
- Natalie Norton talked about prioritizing.
- Mary Marantz talked about seizing opportunity.
When I was younger and in school, my life trajectory looked a bit like this: educate, graduate, move on to a 9-5 job and earn a steady salary until it’s time to retire. End. So what happens when you’re not really a part of the system? How do you reconcile your life with the life that you thought you’d have for the last 15-20 years? I’ve been working on my “working for yourself” recaps for about a year now and I still have a lot of days where I just don’t see the big picture. What If was a fresh way to look at this life.
So the things I took away from the camp were:
- don’t be afraid of money.
- where I want to be in 5 years.
- and how to do that in my day-to-day (as simple as that sounds, the execution is a bit more difficult).
It was a pretty “intensive” (for lack of a better word) day, with us not just listening but also giving back. The first half of the session was spent listening to speakers, and the next bit was us divided into smaller groups to talk amongst ourselves, share stories, do exercises, and write down goals.
The camp did not blow my mind. I might’ve hyped it too much after listening to my friends’ stories about their time in the DR — and as Katie Jane says, it’s hard to compare a week-long trip of a small cluster of people getting to know each other and exposing all their vulnerabilities, with a short workshop that was only 8 hours long. But I did appreciate the insight of the four women who spoke and it’s given me a jumping-off point for creating a better day-to-day life.