I came into UNITED2014 not knowing what to expect. All I knew was I was going to be reconnecting with my photography family that was born last year at a similar photography conference in Las Vegas, WPPI. Ryan Moore, Rebecca Read, Jordan Quinn – you are all my favorite ding pieces. I can’t say enough about how much fun I had with all of you. The way we help each other, the stupid things we laugh about… practicing empathy and breaking into song at Nardones La Famiglia Pizzeria while making sure to leave no carb behind… my Nail Clippin’ Photogs… I love y’all. And I’m so excited to add new names to this group of photogs I now call friends – Karena Dixon (can’t wait for June!), Jamie Grant, Mycah Burns, Ali Williamson, among many others… I am so thankful to have met all of you! Hopefully we can all work together again soon ☺

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Photo credit (below): Ryan Moore PhotographyJillTiongcoPhotography_0042.jpg

Photo credit (below): Rebecca Read PhotographyJillTiongcoPhotography_0018.jpgJillTiongcoPhotography_0020.jpgJillTiongcoPhotography_0022.jpg

While UNITED put a lot emphasis on connecting with new friends – they even gave us a card with names of 3 random people we had to hug/take a selfie with – it wasn’t just a conference of photogs running around hugging (okay it kind of was but in an awesome and not creepy way). UNITED was full of incredible photography and business marketing tips like how to shoot in horrible light, how to cultivate gesture and breathe life into posing, how to create a more defined brand, building hot threads on social media… I could go on for days. But on top of all of that was a stronger, reoccurring theme presentation after presentation, speaker after speaker. The messages that stuck out to me were not about the best lenses to use or the most effective way to market to my target audience (although those were great, too). But, the lessons I hope stick with me the most are the ones that can be applied towards life in general and not just my photography business:

I am blessed. I am adequate. I am a photographer with a life outside of photography. My business does not define me. I define my business by doing what I LOVE. Use my gifts to serve others. Live a life of purpose. Redefine success.

Jill Tiongco Photography | Chicago Wedding Photographer

To be completely honest, I came into UNITED feeling frustrated. I was comparing my work to other photographers, feeling inadequate, feeling envious, feeling stuck. But after being immersed in a creative environment, shooting everyday, feeling the support of other people who have been through that same mindset and made it through even stronger, learning not to compare my work to others… I left Santa Barbara with a new and refreshed outlook on not only photography, but life. I am chomping at the bit to shoot more. I am incredibly excited for wedding season to start. I am itching to put all the things I learned into practice. In other words, I. Am. Pumped.

Photo credit (below): Photo credit (below): Ryan Moore PhotographyJillTiongcoPhotography_0021.jpgJill Tiongco Photography | Chicago Wedding PhotographerJillTiongcoPhotography_0009.jpgJillTiongcoPhotography_0026.jpgJillTiongcoPhotography_0030.jpgJillTiongcoPhotography_0037.jpg

So where do I go from here? Well, if you know me, you know I have a laundry list of things to do. And that I have a list of that list categorized, prioritized, and color coated in order of importance. Branding updates, blog refocusing, workflow improvements, website curating… all of it. But at the top of those lists are these 3 things:

1. Focus on what makes me happy, and in return make clients happier.
2. Be active with the Chicago Shoot and Share group and cultivate relationships with new photographers.
3. Use my gifts to serve others.

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Check back on the blog next week for more photos from the insanely beautiful shoots I did at UNITED2014 – including an offbeat beat bride sunset beach shoot and a gatsby themed trolley ride to a private estate… you won’t wanna miss it.

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