In beautiful mountainous Asheville, NC, I spent the weekend with The Queen Photographers, an organization of Black Women Photographers founded by Sierra Collins & Latoya Dixon Smith. The organization seeks to “equip savvy photography business owners who find support in a community that is more like a sisterhood.” – Latoya Dixon Smith
The organization currently has 7 active chapters; Columbia, SC, Greenville, SC, Charleston, SC, Charlotte, NC , Savannah, GA, Atlanta, GA and Augusta, GA. The Queen Photographers Workshop 2017, was held May 20-21, and was an opportunity for members and other creatives to grow in their “art and continue to build sustainable business.” This 2 day workshop featured panel discussions, mini workshops, networking and creative skill building through interactive discussions with field experts.
The Conference began with a panel discussion, featuring business owners, Margaux Weinstock (@wildflowerbridal), Kesha Williams (@imthatgirlkesha), Tara Ruby (@tararubyphotography), Tomayia Colvin (@tomayiacolvin) and Candice Johnson (@candiiboo). From humble beginnings the panelists shared stories of how they grew their businesses. Each creative entrepreneur sought to fill a void in their respective industries, by doing something different and unexpected. Tara Ruby stressed the importance of challenging the naysayers by continuing to pursue your craft despite what others may say about you. The panel explained, how essential it is, in this ever growing creative market to find your niche and stand out. Creatives should create vision and mission statements as a reminder to stay on brand.
As a final thought, Tomayia Colvin shared a note from her son that failures are just lessons, a fail is simply your “first- attempt-in-learning”. So be not discouraged in your mistakes but learn from them and grow. It takes practice to be great and one cannot practice without making a first attempt. The women on the panel were very insightful and shared a wealth of information to the audience.
Following the Panel discussion, the keynote speaker Alrinthea Carter (@southernphilter) took the stage. Full of joy and excitement, Alrinthea shared her creative journey as a rural exploration photographer. The goal of her work is to highlight the beauty of abandoned spaces in the south, her motto: “Do something Strange”. With her art, Alrinthea seeks to give old and forgotten spaces a new appreciation. At her art shows, she takes viewers on a journey through the past, incorporating music, poems and bible verses relevant to the show. She encourages creatives to follow their visions as an act of rebellion, going against the norm of a 9-5 type career.
Day 1 ended with a series of mini workshops and networking.
Day 2 of the conference began with morning yoga + meditation led by Calm Coach Jamie Fleming-Dixon (@blackgirlcalm) of Black Girl’s Guide to Calm. Jamie demonstrated simple yoga poses that could be done anywhere even in the office, and closed the practice with a peaceful meditation focused on calm and centeredness.
Following Jamie, was Instagram expert, Tyler J. McCall (@tylerjmccall), who provided tips on building a strong Instagram presence. Tyler provided a 6 step guide for creative entrepreneurs, stressing the importance of being personable, relatable and providing content of value.
Tyler’s 6 steps to a strong Instagram presence
- Know your audience
- Create Clear objectives & Goals
- Share your Story
- Use voice over Visual
- Consistent visuals
The conference ended with a styled shoot at beautiful Holcombe Manor in Asheville. The conference weekend was a beautiful escape filled with community, collaboration, and insight. It was an amazing experience being around other creatives and sharing knowledge and positive vibes. For more information on The Queen Photographers or any of the amazing speakers click here.