I've tried to start this post several times over the last year and I just stop.. What IF was such an unexpected surprise and probably the best thing I did for ME and for myself as an artist last year. It came out of nowhere, when a friend messaged me about snagging her ticket as she was no longer able to attend. I can not even express how thankful I am that she thought of me and offered me this opportunity.
Next thing I knew I was on a plane headed to Arizona.. there's cacti there? scorpions?? sand? Is it in the desert? HAHAHA I'd never been to Arizona so I wasn't sure what I was in for! The resort where we stayed was absolutely breathtaking. If you're ever in Phoenix, about an hour out is this gorgeous resort, Ranchos de los Caballeros. The staff was fantastic, the food was ridiculous and there was so much to do! I would totally love to go back and do all the things I didn't get a chance to do..and of course visit the Grand Canyon!
It's funny, and I'm sure you all won't believe it but I can be terribly shy. EVEN after 25 years in retail there are times where I close up.. self doubt totally gets the best of me. This was one of those times. I didn't know hardly anyone and everyone knew everyone else. Looking back I totally get it now!! I SO look forward to seeing the people I connected with last year and as I was an outsider, no matter how they tried to make me feel welcomed, I didn't open up.. I regret it. Completely. The first two days really got the best of me and it wasn't until the end of the conference that I started to open up and really connect. I regret that but am so thankful I stayed a few extra days and connected with friends I know I can count on in a heartbeat, to listen, who care about my wellbeing and success.
When I got home, I started getting messages from everyone... "SOOOOO, tell me all about it!!" When things really move me, I find it so difficult to put it into words. What IF totally fell into that category.. "So good." Was usually my response but it was SO MUCH more than that.. and I had no idea until after I returned home and let everything sink in and marinate. The connections I made, well, more than connections.. the FRIENDS I made-INSPIRE ME, PUSH ME, ENCOURAGE ME..
As an "artist" growing up you meet other "artists" and they are SO FULL of themselves.. pretentious does not even cut it! I finally found artists that LOVE. They love what they do, they love the struggle, they love life no matter what is thrown at them. They love being a community. That's what What IF is for me. A community that supports and constantly encourages each other.. The Dreamers. The best part is they allowed me to dream.. I will never forget writing down things in my little book with tears swelling up.. answering the heavy question of "What IF....?" The possibilities truly are endless if you allow yourself to dream.
I'm taking at least one friend with me this year who is new to What IF and I can't wait for her to experience it! There are still seats available and you can get more information about What IF 2015 here! ! You should join us! What IF, isn't a conference for "just photographers" it's for CREATIVES of all types, "artist-preneurs"!! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me! and did I mention, this year you'll need your passport.. We're headed to Cancun and the Gorgeous Fiesta Americana Condesa Resort! April can't get here soon enough!!
Enjoy some of my favorite moments from What IF Conference 2014 // Phoenix!