When we found out we were moving to Kansas last spring I started looking into the photography community in this region.  One of the first things I discovered is this amazing regional workshop called After Dark Education – and it was scheduled for St. Louis, Missouri in January 2014!  I was so excited!!  I had heard great things about this “un-workshop” as they like to call it from some other mid-west based photographer friends so I signed up as soon as registration opened last summer.  The After Dark I attended last week was a little something different than they had done before.  It was called After Dark Intensive and was not wrapped around shooting as the other conferences have been, but around more of the business side of photography.  It was exactly what I needed!!

I was able to take classes on website management, marketing, business development, editing – even one on hair and makeup styling! The grid of classes was crazy amazing – there were times it was really hard to narrow down and just choose one class! I learned so much every day – from morning until late in the night, whether in a class or sitting around the lobby chatting with other photographers. But honestly, one of the most inspiring classes came from a West Coast based fine art photographer named Brook Shaden.  She was teaching a class on the business side of Fine Art Photography and I decided to take it just for fun.  But I came out inspired to dream big and think about future possibilities ~ exactly what the creators of After Dark wanted when they designed this conference.

I left St. Louis inspired to look beyond the daily to do lists, or even yearly goals, and really think about where I want to go with photography in the long run.  To ask, what are my “big dreams”, those things that I may not be able to complete this week, this month, this year, or maybe not even in the next ten years.  I have young children and they come first ~ and take much of my time right now.  But they are growing quickly, sometimes too quickly, and before I know it I will have a lot more time on my hands.  So it was wonderful to take some time in St. Louis to stop and think about where I want to take my photography ~ and where I want it to take me ~ over the coming years.  And you know what? I like what I see 🙂

I am so grateful for all of the mentors at After Dark Intensive.  Dave Doeoppel opened so many editing doors for me in Adobe Lightroom, Brian DeMint gave me the tools to help me take my website and social media to a new level (I am even giving Google+ a try!), Brook Shaden not only inspired me with her Fine Art class, but her Photoshop editing class was amazing.  And I think I took just about every class that Whitney and David Scott offered ~ I loved connecting with and learning from them, and since they are such close neighbors in Joplin, MO, I hope we can connect again soon!

But the icing on the cake really was the connections I was able to make with other photographers.  I have had the privilege to connect with several amazing photographers online over the last couple years.  I consider several of them go be good friends ~ even though we haven’t met face to face.  We are spread out across the country but we have started trying to have little meet ups when we can.  I was so happy that Andrea of AB Photography was also going to After Dark and we were able to room together for the week – we had a great time and it was fantastic to finally meet in person and just get to hang out and relax together 🙂  And we tracked down a couple other photographer friends in the St Louis area and had a fun pizza night with Christy of Glory Photography and Anne of Anne Meintrup Photography.  So fun!  Christy’s partner Amy couldn’t make it, so I am definitely heading back their way soon to meet up with both halves of that dynamic duo!

All in all, I am just grateful.  Grateful for the Mentors of After Dark and all that they put into this “un-conference”, grateful for the photographers who attended and really invested themselves in the classes and the “Mind Slams”, grateful to my family for letting me slip away for four days, and grateful to my clients who continue to support me in this amazing journey.

This was a little unique for a photography workshop in that we didn’t take any photos!  I really wanted to get out and shoot around St. Louis.  The temps were in the single digits on the morning I left, and well, lets be honest, I have a tendency to be a little wimpy when it comes to that kind of cold ~ though this winter is teaching me to embrace it!! (**Hint hint ~ watch for an After Dark inspired shoot coming soon ~ it definitely involved the cold ~ and NOT being wimpy!!)

I do have a couple fun instagram shots to share with you from the week…

Renee Stengel Photography signature by On The Spot Design

 Renee Stengel Photography After Dark 2014 St. Louis Mo



Comments Off on After Dark Inspiration ~ St Louis, MO