I first attended Shutterfest in 2015 after hearing about it in one of the local photography groups that I'm in. Although I'd been doing weddings and other types of sessions for a couple of years already, I knew that I still had plenty of things to learn. Shutterfest, at that time, was only into its second year of being held and there were some bumps and some words said (by me.... and apparently they are still hashtagging them to this day), and I just wasn't sure how much I would even like this conference. You see, it was kind of a new thing. Only 500 had attended the year prior and it was small and intimate. In 2015, 2000 attended, the trade show grew, the classes grew, and there were lots of models that we were able to "rent". Instructors taught independent groups and there were photoshoots at all hours of the day and night. It wasn't one of those conferences where you sit in a classroom and study all day... you got to get right out there and take photos with the guidance of instructors or independently... it was entirely up to you.
Now, 2 years later, I'm still attending (and signed up for Shutterfest 2018) and still learning. I admit that my reasons for going have changed. When I first started going, I was eager to get all kinds of shots to fill up my portfolio because it was still a bit sparse back then. I took every chance I had to photograph the models that were all around Union Station, just to get photos into my portfolio. I'm happy to say that this year, I didn't feel the need to run and gun all around there trying to get photos of random models because this year, my priorities were to fine tune some of the business aspects of photography, learn about new products, and listen to as many speakers as possible. The beauty of Shutterfest is that you can choose from so many different things to do! If you want to just photograph models all day long for 2 days, YOU CAN! If you want to take business classes all day long for 2 days, YOU CAN!
This year, I brought along my friend Sydney (Sydney Marie Photography) and we hit the road Monday morning and arrived in St. Louis in the late afternoon. Once we'd checked into our hotel room, we noticed lots of people already doing independent photoshoots all around the trains behind union station. Now, if you're a photographer, you're probably eyerolling so hard about shooting on the tracks (For those of you who are not photogs... shooting on train tracks is not only cliché and overdone, but it's also illegal and very dangerous). Just an FYI, these train tracks and trains behind Union Station are all inactive.
Anyway... Sydney and I wandered down to the trains and came upon a senior group photo shoot. We joined in and grabbed a few shots but bear in mind, the models do tend to look all around because there are so many photographers there.