Mondays with M – Shutterfest: Shoot . Learn . Party

OK, so I’ll admit it, I am an education fanatic … I’ve been that way my whole life … always a front and center kind of student who approaches life with a so much information, so little time kind of frenzy!  With my photography business, it’s no different!  There is ALWAYS something new to be learned in photography, and I invest a ton of time and money into always learning new and better ways to shoot and to run my business.  It’s a competitive world out there and honing my craft and keeping up with what’s new is what we do to set ourselves apart in a world where everyone is a photographer!  So imagine how excited I was when I learned that Sal Cincotta was putting on Shutterfest, a new kind of educational experience that is totally free!!  You read that right FREE!  I wouldn’t have believed it had I not known Sal, but anyone who knows Sal knows that he is one of the most energetic, driven and giving photographers they’ve ever known and he truly wants everyone in the industry to succeed.  So I was in the minute i heard about it because I knew that he would not only pull this off, but that he would make it EPIC … and he did not disappoint! The speakers, which included among others, Blair Phillips, Lori Nordstom, Vanessa Joy and my personal new photography crush, Roberto Valenzuela, were top notch and hands on!  It was incredible that every one of the speakers was hands-on, and approachable and more than willing to talk and answer questions.  Oh, and there were some amazing sponsors, who just so happen to be some of my favorite vendors … Songfreedom, StickyAlbums, Animoto, Sigma, to name a few and my new personal favorite who just so happened to give me their awesome giveaway, a $1,000 credit to, PhotoFlashDrive.com!  I am super grateful to them and super-excited that I will be able to order some really cool new products to offer to my clients in the next few weeks!

Sal Cincotta teaching St. Louis Engagement ShootHow many times have you heard Sal say shoot “tight, middle, wide”?  I think that phrase is going to live in my head forever! (and that’s a really good thing).   A HUGE thanks to all of the models and makeup artists who so willingly gave up their time and services for FREE!  You guys rocked it!

St. Louis Styled Engagement ShootRoberto’s willingness to teach all 150+ of us who showed up for his hands-on was incredible.  Yes, I had to stand on my tip-toes, or sneak under taller armpits to hear and see, but watching him find the light was about the most amazing thing I have ever seen!  I now own both of his books, Picture Perfect Practice and Picture Perfect Posing, and will be assigning myself chapters and shoots!  My hope is to be able to “see” like him one day.

Roberto Valenzuela teaching posing at ShutterFest, St. Louis 2014On Thursday, Sal graciously opened his studio in O’Fallon, Illinois so that we could check out his studio space.  He has recently completed a major renovation on an historic building in downtown O’Fallon, which serves as headquarters for all of his brands and endeavors … Evolve Edits, Behind the Shutter, Signature Albums, Virtuoso, ShutterMag, Shutter Network … I either didn’t list them all because I forgot something, or because he probably created a new brand since I started writing this post! Nonetheless, the space is beautiful, and enviable, and a great environment in which to work.  It is easy to see why his talented staff is so dedicated.

Salvatore Cincotta Studio, Behind The Shutter Studio, Evolve Edits, O'Fallen IL

I am so major happy and proud to have been part of the Shutterfest Freshman class and can’t wait to get the T-shirt to prove it!  Shoot . Learn . Party …. the education and camaraderie were awesome! I know I’ve said it a million times, but many thanks again to Sal and Taylor, their entire staff and all the volunteers that made Shutterfest 2014 so successful.  I cannot wait to see what this crew has cooked up for next year.  I promise you, it will be EPIC!  When I was leaving, I paused to share a little memory with Sal about when I first met him 3 years ago at WPPIU in Atlanta.  My photography business was brand spanking new at the time and what I remember most was that Sal was as warm and welcoming as if I had been in the business forever.  He never talked down, or made me feel unwelcome or like less of a photographer because I was new.  Instead, he was open with information and offered himself up as a resource to help and foster new careers along the way.  And for that, I just can’t say thank you enough!

We left the studio and spent what little time we had left exploring St. Louis.  Of course we had to get up in the arch … which was breathtaking … in a scary and in a good way!  We loved it and cannot wait to return and check out more!  Can you say Shutterfest 2015??!!

Gateway Arch, St. Louis MO, 24 April 2014

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