January 30, 2024
My experience at The Hybrid Co. was complex and I felt the need to write a blog post about my time spent in Omni Amelia Island. This blog post is well overdue and I don’t have excuses, life just gets away from me and blogging falls on the back burner- oops. I should start by saying I’m not typically one to drop the amount of money I did on this conference. I invest mostly in 1:1 mentoring sessions with people I truly look up to and who inspire me in the photography community.
Conferences have always been overwhelming to me. But, I had experienced a little bit of FOMO and saw that the 2023 conference would be close to home at Omni Amelia Island, FL. Before you know it, I was texting one of my photographer besties (and real life besties) PV Cobia, and we booked our tickets the same day.
I’m an extrovert to the core, and this was a great place for me to thrive. However, I was spent at the end of the day. The Hybrid Co. It was nice to come home to people that I knew and was comfortable vegging out with. We were able to grab groceries together, cases of water and the essentials to save some money on the overall trip. All of this to say, make sure you branch out and meet new people and forge new friendships. Choose different styled shoots from your friends. I made a ton of new photographer friends from all over the country and this was my absolute favorite part of the conference.
If you’re a photographer, there are probably some people you look up to in the photo community and whose work you adore. I would suggest participating in Styled Shoots that you feel you will learn from and focus less on the images. After all, when there’s 40 other people in a two hour shoot, you may walk away with some incredible images. However, my biggest takeaways were from the education and tips on how the mentors photographed-not my portfolio. For me, Jennifer Lawrence and D’arcy Benincosa were the people I wanted to meet in person and hear from. Jennifer might just be my favorite photographer ever and I listen to D’arcy’s podcast almost the moment she releases it. I knew, regardless of what mood board they put up, I was going to sign up for their sessions. It was completely worth it.
Photograph a Wedding the Day Before We Leave
Fill Up My Schedule to the Brim with Styled Shoots As you’ll read below, I felt the need to cram my schedule to the brim. If you go, please don’t do this. There will be last minute pop-ups, photo walks, group sessions you can take part in, etc. I just had no idea and struggle with serious FOMO so I signed up for every single time slot.
3. Completely Ditch My Digital Camera
This is coming from me, personally. I was very new to shooting film and really wanted to push myself to learn and trust the process. When I got my film back from my amazing film lab, Rewind Photo, I regretted my decisions because one of my cameras malfunctioned with a shutter issue during one of my favorite shoots. Luckily, not every image was damaged but many of them were and I didn’t have backups digitally. This was a great learning lesson for me. Unless you’re very experienced and trust your cameras and film stock, back up a few of your images digitally so you at least have a handful of content after paying so much money for styled shoots.
My First Shoot was with my Ultimate Photographer Inspiration, Jennifer Lawrence. It was a family styled shoot on the beach and I was so excited to see how she incorporated film and prismatic elements into her images. The family she got to come was adorable and the takeaways from this session were unmatched to any other. She was a completely open book and gave out so much advice. We also got some amazing images.
This shoot in particular was one that I told myself to only shoot film, when I got my film back I regretted not backing up a few images digitally. This was my first time using Ektar 100 and I loved the rich, vivid colors from the film. Jennifer was so kind about making sure everyone got their face time with her and brought so much energy to the session. She talked about her tips and tricks of metering, shooting double exposures, and allowing families to be themselves.
This took place the second afternoon. Not only did she hire a beautiful model, but she took her time explaining how she goes about handling styled shoots. We started off poolside and it left me so inspired! We also incorporated movement and cell phone video footage into the session which was super helpful. I was SO glad I brought my digital camera to this session.
Looking back, I shouldn’t have signed up for this shoot. This was well executed, just not my cup of tea. I felt like I needed to sign up for every single session and I could have left this one off. However, I made some great friends and got to see a beautiful sunrise. I also got some beautiful images although, photographing models in couture dresses isn’t really in my foreseeable future (that I know of) so I just had fun with it!
Clay Austin’s Vacation Romance
Of all the people I shot with, Clay really gave me some interesting insights on how he goes about photographing his sessions that I never would have thought of. Not only was it well ran by his assistants but there were several stations of flat lays and I loved the casual nature of the couple on the beach.
D’arcy Benincosa’s Ode to Mother Earth
This may have been my favorite, probably because all of my other shoots were on the beach. We went into the mossy woods and there were three beautiful models, all female, with curves, and the most beautiful skin tones you’ve ever seen. This was so different from anything I’ve experienced to shoot and gave me so many ideas. They layout was so thoughtful and slow I felt like I truly had time to be creative.
All in all, I really loved my time and experience. I would go again, but only in locations that I know will serve me. With the next sessions being on the beach, you might see me there! Have questions? Feel free to reach out! Contact me here!
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A lifestyle photographer in the Florida panhandle.