As I write this, we should be in Germany at the 2019 edition of the Fearless Photographers European conference in Aachen. We’re not, and I’ll come back to that shortly.
The Fearless community has been a solid part of our lives for the last five years or so, which went up a notch when we attended our first conference in Porto, during March 2016. It was a particularly revelatory conference for me, because up to that point I had thought I was a bit of a fraud. Tom was the one who took awesome pictures of wedding couples under dramatic skies or looking wistful atop a hill and they were the images that won Fearless Awards right? I was just the wife, tagging along, shooting my little thing. Yet at the conference we met so many wonderful international photographers and saw a breadth of work at weddings, including many wonderfully funny or emotional moments – exactly the sort of thing I loved shooting. Most poignant for me was the talk from awesome Mexican photographer Citlalli Rico, who spoke so emotively about the feeling in her work that I had to speak to her. A chat over lunch and a hug had me in tears, as I felt finally validated in the work that I loved to shoot – moment driven photography that couples can instantly remember how the moment FELT, not just what it looked like. I also met photographer Candice Cusic at that conference, another moment-driven advocate, which led me to her fantastic workshop where I had another reaffirming experience.
The other big bonus was that we were travelling to a location not determined by us, which is one of the most exciting things a keen traveller can do. Porto would have unlikely been on our list, maybe Lisbon or a beach holiday in the Algarve at some point if we headed to Portugal, yet we absolutely loved this vibrant city – and we quaffed much of it’s gorgeous port! It’s on the blogging long-list, and I must get around to it soon.
2017 saw Fearless Conference travel to Budapest, somewhere we had already been an absolutely loved, so what joy to travel to a city you love and not be a tourist, just enjoy the vibe! Here we made more friends and got together with old ones whilst enjoying hanging out in the city in our beautiful Airbnb as if we were locals. We spent an afternoon in the Great Market Hall, generally picking and eating our way around the atmospheric building. Top foodie tip – if you go stock up on Paprika, it’s beautiful and way cheaper than the pathetic amounts you get in UK supermarkets!
Last year, in Split, there was an added an extra frisson of excitement. It was great to go to Split, again, not necessarily an obvious travelling destination we would have gone for, and despite the beast from the east playing havoc with the weather we loved wandering around this ancient city. It had a beautifully mediterranean feel, and certainly for me I felt quite at home as an Italian. Our apartment was opposite the fish market, which gave us a perfect afternoon of street photography watching the wiley seagulls waiting for titbits from the passers by and clumsy sellers. We wandered through the Diocletian’s palace, imagined living back in roman times and enjoyed amazing sushi amongst other meals.
By now Fearless is family, and incredibly, this time my name was on the poster! With a number of slots being given for shorter talks, I was chosen to deliver my talk on ‘Being brave with your brand’, something myself and Tom and hugely passionate about and had shaped our business over the last couple of years.
This was the biggest conference to date, and what you’ll see from our photos is the love and friendship that comes with the Fearless community. We all hug and we hug hard. The excitement of seeing everyone again is palpable and we always come away meeting new friends. The venue moved away from the previous year’s conference centre set up and we found ourselves picking up yummy morning pastries before heading to Kino Kamaran, a cinema, so we were going to be on stage! As always the speakers wore their hearts on their sleeves, seemingly not keeping a thing from us as we absorbed their words. Eventually it was going to be my turn, and I was aware of the room being very hot and dark leading up to speaking, so I decided to kick start with getting everyone to give themselves a good shoulder shake to wake up! Then the next twenty minutes were a blur, but I remember feeling hugely proud looking at our work playing through our slideshow at the end. It was wonderful to see so many smiling faces afterwards, and to have so many positive compliments.
The biggest of all from Fearless founder Huy, who in his post-conference round up said ” You shared so much in such a short time. It was one of the best presentations on that topic that I’ve ever seen.” Eek! I think speaking at Fearless even just in a ‘mini’speaker’ slot has been one of my proudest career highlights to date and I hope to be able to keep going to conferences for many years to come. So why are we not there this year? With a wonderful wedding to shoot on Saturday, the conference being on ‘Brexit [Schmexit] day’ was just too much of a risk to come back the day before the wedding. We love to travel, we love Fearless, but our clients will always come first. So we are undoubtedly experiencing serious FOMO this week, but it is all worth it, as we are lucky to have such an awesome job! And they’ll always be next year!
After Split we headed to Dubrovnik for some RnR which we will certainly be blogging soon so stay tuned, especially if you’re a Game of Thrones fan!