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  • Writer's pictureKara Chatham

imagingUSA 2020 | Define the Work

I had the pleasure of attending imaging USA 2020 in Nashville, TN. For those who don't know what imaging USA is - it's a conference for photographers to get together and learn from each other as well as connect with one another. It's put on by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and is in a different city each year.


I attended several different sessions. Some there were in my "declared field" and some that were not. With the exception of one, most of my "specialty" sessions did not inspire anything or really enlighten me on the path I thought I was going down when I arrived at the conference. The sessions that helped further some of the assessments I had been processing through on my own were ones that were listed as part of different tracks.

One of the most inspiring sessions I attended was a session called: "Do the Work to Get the Work", which was presented by Allen Cooley. There was a specific phrase on one of the slides that captures what it is like to create a career in a creative industry.

Creative fields often have no road map, so make your own.

There isn't a single right way to create a career in this field of work. And we need all of the types of creatives to help make the world a more beautiful place to be. But the question remains: "what is the work?" I think it's a question I will continue to ask myself as I continue to try different aspects of the photography field.


In all honesty, I left imaging USA both encouraged and frustrated. My frustration comes from the fact that I would really love to make creating content my fulltime job, but it's truly not realistic right now. I'm also not sure I have fully found the kind of content I'd like to create. Therefore, there is a sense of "back at squre one" because of this. At the same time, I am encouraged in the fact that the content I have created - the photos and videos I have helped clients create - have helped me learn more about what I would like to do with my company. And I think that's a great take away from the conference.


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