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CRM Guru, Family Filmmaker, and Host of the Business-First Creatives podcast. I help creative service providers grow and streamline their businesses using Dubsado.
There is something super special, dare I say magical, about attending a photography conference in-person. In a post-pandemic world, I think we are all excited to return to being around other humans. Today’s guest is Alison Hatch, Film Family Photographer who has taken on a new role, Conference Organizer. We discuss the ins and outs of bringing back one of my favorites, PhotoNative.
The Business-First Creatives Podcast is brought to you by CRM and Dubsado expert Colie James. Join Colie each week as she discuss how to build a business that brings you joy and a paycheck! From business advice with fellow entrepreneurs to sharing automation tips and tricks, Colie and her guests are sharing industry trends and resources, along with a little bit of sarcasm.
Alison is a family photographer who lives in Albuquerque. She is the director of Photo Native, an annual photography conference for all types of photographers and all levels. “You Belong” is the conference’s motto for that very reason. When Alison isn’t juggling all the balls that Photo Native and her photography business throw at her, she likes to tend to her indoor plant obsession, travel with film camera in, and make sure she gets her daily dose of chocolate.
Here are the highlights…
[0:26] Get to Know Alison
[0:58] Alison’s PhotoNativeExperience as an Attendee
[2:25] Colie’s PhotoNative Experience with Analog Film
[4:21] Bringing PhotoNative Back in 2023
[6:57] PhotoNative’s Past in Utah
[9:47] Why Now?
[10:29] This Year’s Lineup & Remote Class Pass Option
[16:24] Tips for Getting the Most out of Your PhotoNative Experience
photonative.com Use COLIEPN23 to save $50 off your ticket
Review the Transcript:
Colie: Hello, hello, and welcome back to the Business First Creatives podcast. Today’s guest is Alison Hatch, and she is running the photography conference that everyone wants to be at.
PhotoNative. Alison, how are you doing?
Alison: I’m good, Colie. Thank you so much for having me on. I appreciate it.
Colie: So let’s talk about you first, and then we’re gonna get to PhotoNative. Tell me where you’re located and what you do as a photo.
Alison: I am located in Albuquerque, New Mexico and I am a film family photographer and I shoot more artsy lifestyle ish and yeah, that’s what I do. And run PhotoNative on the side, I guess
Colie: Yeah. And guys, I wanna clarify, since all of you guys know that I am a filmmaker, Alison is referring to analog film. Yes. She puts film inside of a camera and clicks a shutter, not a filmmaker. Just wanna
Alison: Yeah. Analog
Colie: to her website and you’re really confused.
Colie: So tell me about your experience at PhotoNative as an attendee before we get into its current iteration and you bringing it back from pre pandemic times.
Alison: Okay. Yeah, so I’ve attended PhotoNative a few times as an attendee back in the day, and. The first time I felt very wallflower and I didn’t quite put myself out there as much as I wanted to, but I came across teachers that I absolutely fell in love with and actually mentored with eventually. And. I just had more of not just an educational experience at PhotoNative, but an emotional experience.
And then the next time I went I was like, okay, I’m going full out baby. I’m not gonna hold anything back. I’m just gonna go for it and talk to people and talk to you know, people that I idolize, instructors that I idolize and it was amazing. It was a very like life altering experience, which sounds really huge, but it was for me, it made me want to go back to not just shooting portraiture and making my clients happy, but making me happy as an artist and really finding that path for myself.
And I started shooting analog film again and and the friendships that I’ve made, that I made at that conference, I am still friends with to, to this day. So it was, it was an amazing experience and I love PhotoNative.
Colie: That is absolutely awesome to hear. And the funny thing is, um, I actually shoot analog film and that came directly from PhotoNative. My very first, um, year that I attended, I took Sam Kelly’s in-home. , um, shooting families on film. And I have to tell you just cuz this is like the only time I get the opportunity to talk about analog film, my first three roles of film were absolutely phenomenal.
I mean, I went into that house, almost every single image was a keeper. I mean, I was like, I’ve got this. And then I came home and shot and the next few rolls were absolute shit. Alison just absolutely,
Alison: We’ve all been there. We have all been there.
Colie: And so it’s, it’s really strange though, like every time I go to PhotoNative, I try to join a shoot that has absolutely nothing to do with what I actually do as a professional photographer.
So for the, for most of the time when I was attending PhotoNative, I saw it as a creative outlet. And so I would just use it as an opportunity to test things like I did in-home film, and I also did studio lifestyle newborn, which anybody knows I would rather eat glass than shoot in a studio. So that was, you know, that was the.
That, that was a jump for me. And then this time when we attend in three weeks, I am actually doing Maryam’s Punchy Pool Party. And my intention is that I am only going to have a film camera with me so that I can really practice on double exposures and working on, you know, getting that awesome color. And I’m, I’m very excited about that shoot. But I just wanted to give you some perspective of my experience as an attendee, and I am super excited to be teaching a class, you know, this time in Palm Springs. So let’s back up a moment though, because I think PhotoNative ran for five years. I attended the last, I attended years. Two, three, and five.
And it had already been decided before the pandemic, that PhotoNative was ending. That PhotoNative in 2020, which was in Santa Barbara was going to be the last one. And then, you know, early last year I heard rumblings of it coming back and I was like, Oh my God. What do you mean it’s coming back? So, Alison, tell me the story of how PhotoNative was like resurrected and now you are bringing this amazing experience back to Palm Springs in February of 2023.
Alison: So, yeah, it was kind of an interesting long process. Um, we were in the middle of the pandemic and I. You know, pandemic did weird things to all of us and trying new things, right? We all thought crazy ideas. I thought about getting chickens. I didn’t by the way, but you know what I mean? Things like that. So , I was like, I really, I’m, I think I miss PhotoNative.
I love PhotoNative. Maybe I should talk to Jesse and see if we could work something out and I could work with her on it. And it, you know, time went by. I didn’t do anything. and then I’m a bit of a education junkie. I , that’s like my favorite part of photography maybe is learning more about it. And so I had done some other experiences, you know, workshops and things like that, and I was just really missing what PhotoNative could offer.
And those were great, don’t get me wrong. They were awesome and I’m happy that I did them and they were worth it. But I was missing PhotoNative and I was talking to a friend that I actually me at PhotoNative, and she’s like, she just out of the blue one time was like, I miss PhotoNative. And I told her, I was thinking about bringing it back and she’s like, you have to do it.
So she kind of gave me the push to jump into the deep end. Right. So I contacted Jesse. Jesse actually had tried to run, uh, PhotoNative during the pandemic, which I don’t think a lot of people knew. She did like an online version of it, so she wasn’t quite ready to like, let it go. And I think we all felt that.
I don’t know if you felt it, that when you were there,
Colie: I did. Santa Barbara was very sad.
Alison: Yeah, it’s like this should, yes. It’s like, no, we don’t, we’re not ready for this to end at all. So I talked to Jessie and after a few months she decided, yeah, here you go. You can have it. It’s your, and I kind of took over not knowing anything, being a little bit too naive with it, but I’m really excited for the opportunity to bring it back for people who are huge fans of PhotoNative like us.
Colie: And I mean, I didn’t attend the first time that it was in California. I did attend the second. I just felt like maybe there’s a difference now that it’s, you know, in California in a different spot. But there was something like magical about doing PhotoNative in Utah. Number one, it was always in winter, guys, there was always snow on the ground.
I mean, I think one time it was like 20 degrees outside. I was like, no one is going outside to shooting this. No one . So, you know, living in, in the Denver area, PhotoNative was always like, I didn’t even have to think about it. The flights were cheap. The cost of the ticket was relatively cheap, the hotel was cheap, and it was of course in the middle of winter where no one is feeling very creative to begin with.
And so, you know, hopping a plane, one state over, to go to Salt Lake City, was just like a no-brainer. And then they moved it to California and I missed the first round in Palm Springs. I, I believe I had to sit it out for a birth. One of my returning clients was due, and I was like, okay, I can’t, I can’t miss her birth.
Like, I’m not gonna come. I’m gonna stay home. And then of course, I decided to attend in Santa Barbara knowing that it was going to be the last one. I was like, okay, I can’t, I can’t miss that on the last one. But, so bringing PhotoNative back is one thing, what pushed you to have it in somewhere like Palm Springs instead of somewhere that’s a little closer to home and perhaps easier to manage, like Albuquerque?
Alison: Well, if you’ve ever been to Albuquerque, you would understand right away. Um, it’s , it’s not really a destination vacation kind of a state. Um, and and the same thing like I, I wanted it to, I wanted it to be a draw, and I loved that it was in Santa Barbara. I loved that it was in a hotel setting. I felt like it allowed people to connect a little bit more by just hanging out and interacting with each other so much easier, instead of having to get a different hotel somewhere else.
And, um, I was out actually late in the game as well. Um, by the time that I had obtained it from Jesse, it was summer and these conference things, book out year, a year, at least in advance. And so it just happened that it was Palm Springs again, a different hotel. The first time they wear in Palm Springs, it was at the Ace, and this time it’s Saguaro.
So yeah, but I, I wanted it to be in a fun place. I wanted the conference rooms to not feel like a conference room. I wanted, you know, we’re photographers, we need light and beauty, could
Colie: not have picked a better location. Lemme be honest, I went last year just for vacation to that hotel and like everywhere in the hotel you can take amazing photographs. I mean, the color pops. I am so looking forward to getting some more pictures by the pool. I’m just saying if you guys come to PhotoNative, catch me at the pool with a cocktail and a unicorn floaty, I will be there. No. So, I mean, it’s interesting that, you know, hear about your choice to do it in Palm Springs, um, because it definitely is a destination. You didn’t get it until summer and so there wasn’t, you know, a huge runway to market. And before the conference was gonna happen in February, why did you decide to go ahead and do it in 2023 instead of maybe waiting until 2024?
Alison: Excitement. I
Colie: Yeah, you couldn’t hold it in. Okay.
Alison: Yeah, I mean, I just, I mean, part of the reason why I took over for PhotoNative is so I can have that experience again. I wanna give it to everyone else for R for like, truly, that’s truly what I’m wanting to do, is I want everyone to have an amazing experience.
Like I’ve had, I wanna do it again, like I’ve missed it. And so I jumped in. I jumped in and yeah. So that’s really the main reason. Let’s just do it. Let’s have fun.
Colie: Yeah. So I mean, let’s actually get into, into some details. Let’s talk about what’s going on. So how many speakers?
Alison: So we have 12 speakers and seven native shoot instructors. Um, so there’s two classes. We’ll have an opening keynote that D’Arcy Benincosa, and then a closing keynote, which is Michael and Anna Costa. And then during the day, there’s two rooms going and you can pick which instructor, like which class you would like to go to.
And I love that variety. Um, so you’re not just stuck in one room the whole day. Things are very loosey goosey at PhotoNative, you have the freedom to do whatever you would like. Um, it’s not like you need to be here at this specific time. So that way you can choose and then we record everything if you’ve missed.
So if you’ve missed a class and you were up, you know, if you wanted to go to both classes and they’re at the same time, you’re able to review the video recording later.
Colie: And I’ve got a question, um, just in case, you know, even though ticket sales will still be on until tomorrow, guys, registration closes tomorrow. But if someone can’t come to Palm Springs and attend, are you selling online tickets so that they can view the video?
Alison: Yeah. So there are
Colie: it live or is it, you know, delivered
Alison: it, it’s about two weeks after. Once we can get every, the conference dropped up and all the video processed and uploaded, it’ll take a little bit of time. Um, so two weeks afterwards for the, it’s a remote pass class pass is what it’s called. And you’re able to buy it online still, and you can still buy it after the conference for those two weeks until we close.
Um, and then you’ll get a link with, obviously everyone knows how to do this. You’ll get the link and you’ll be able to view it as many times as you like, um, for a few months. It’ll be up for a few months.
Colie: Awesome. And I mean, I enjoy that as an attendee, even if, even though I’m gonna be there in person. Um, because, you know, you can’t be in two rooms at one time. And so, you know, if you’re coming, that’s great. You know, pick your teacher that you just can’t, that you just are exuding to get in the room with them.
And if you’re not attending live, I would highly encourage you to check out the Remote Class Pass so that you can get a little bit of this palm. Goodness, the PhotoNative experience in the comfort of your own home,
Alison: Yeah, totally. In your jammies. Eating snacks the whole time. Sounds awesome.
Colie: Alison, I have to tell you a secret. I will probably be in Jammies the entire time, except for during my talk.
I’m just saying I have rainbow pajamas, I have heart pajamas, I have pajamas that make me look really good against the backdrop of the hotel. So if you see me in my rainbow pajamas, please do not judge.
Alison: I’m not,
Colie: You know that that’s how I show up to work
Alison: I’m not judging. Are you kidding me? No, that sounds amazing.
Colie: So are there any differences that we should highlight between PhotoNative as it’s going to exist in 2023 and perhaps what it was like in the last iteration in 2020? Are there any differences in like the, the, the length of the class? Any, anything that we should be.
Alison: Um, no, I tried to keep it as true to the PhotoNative. Let’s call it recipe as it was before. Um, so it wouldn’t change it too much. Um, the only thing is, is that it, it is gonna be smaller and I feel like that’s a huge benefit for the people attending and the teachers, because it’s a smaller group. You’re getting the conference education with the workshop size, and so you’ll be able to interact more with the other attendees and your teachers and, um, Yeah, but everything else is pretty much the same except, well, there is one other thing We did change.
Instead of a dance party, we’re going to be doing karaoke night instead.
Colie: so I have to say I went to a conference at the end of 2022 and they had karaoke and I did not partake, but my bestie is coming with me to PhotoNative, and she has reminded me that from now on our conference trips our YES trip. So I must say yes to karaoke. I don’t know what I’m gonna sing yet, but she’s told me that I must say yes.
And so that’s our new rule going forward. And I mean, with that, let’s just talk about like the in-person experience that you can get when you go to a conference like PhotoNative. Because I mean, we’re all coming out of the pandemic and I know it might be a little scary to think about getting back out there in the world.
I mean, I am just loving being around people. I went to a conference at the end of 2022. I was actually just at a different conference last week in Dallas. And guys, I just can’t tell you how amazing it is to be in a room with like-minded entrepreneurs, and in this case photographers and just being able to talk about your.
with a group of people that you will probably find, you know, good friends, good, good people to associate with even after you leave the conference. Is that how you feel, Alison?
Alison: Totally. I think being a photographer, being a solo entrepreneur is tough and you don’t have. that support system around you all the time. And it is, it’s so exciting to go to a conference and make those connections with people and the, ah, even if you live in totally different states, you are creating your community, you’re creating your tribe to be able to support each other, going through things like I know that Rachel Larson Weaver, who’s gonna be one of our instructors, she’s met some friends at a different conference and then they started up this like boudoir, like Instagram account and some other things,
Colie: Oh yeah, I know about that. Because one of those people is my student.
Alison: Yeah, yeah. So you, you just never know what that skin that is going to be for you, but it’s the, it’s this awesome possibility, even if they’re there, like keeping you on task with each other, or if you have a problem about something or some sort of like workflow or software that you’re, you know, you have someone that you can talk to about, instead of only Googling, which gets very, very lonely.
Colie: It does, it does. So Alison, if we were gonna close this podcast out with some tips on how to get the most out of your PhotoNative experience, because I mean, between the two of us, we’ve probably attended eight
Colie: You said, you were a bit of a wallflower to begin with and then you, you know, you blossomed the second time that you attended.
So what are some good. For our listeners, if they are able to attend in person, like how can they get the most out of the PhotoNative in-person experience?
Alison: Yeah, so my first and biggest tip. Well, let’s start with my least tip. Be, be open to different ideas. Be open to something new that you haven’t tried before. I think a lot of times we buy educational experience hoping that it will get a certain something out of it. Um, , but like you wanting to go for business and you wanna learn something specific for your business or whatever.
But if you go just saying, I’m gonna throw caution to the wind and I’m gonna try something new like you with your film photographer, like your film camera at Maryam’s, shoot. Right. Like you might be discover things that you are needing creatively that you didn’t even know you needed. Um, the other thing is to, yeah, go for it.
Don’t be a wallflower. Go talk to that instructor who you totally, you know, idolize in, fangirl over, but they’re there as equals. That’s another thing about PhotoNative. It’s not this hierarchy in any way. The people there and the teachers there, you’re, you’re all there together and if you have any questions or you just.
Shoot the breeze. Like definitely go do it. Um, and talk to your neighbor at, you know, the person next to you in class, cuz you might be shoot up a friendship that you didn’t even know that you, you know, like they may be such a good friend you didn’t even know you had had. So that doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Sorry. But anyway, yeah, so I would definitely do that. , those are like my two biggest tips. Creativity and not being a wallflower. Just having.
Colie: And I’m gonna add one tip cuz Alison said a lot of great things and most of them are what I would’ve said anyways. The one thing that I wanna say is maybe encourage you to talk to one person. many, but at least one that you don’t know before you get to the conference. Like invite, invite them to have lunch.
You know, get together with people that you don’t personally know before you arrive, because that’s just gonna make it to where your circle of photographers that you know, in the online space and you know across the world is gonna get bigger and you are gonna have more people to form friendships with, you know, online after the conference.
Alison: definitely. I definitely agree with that.
Colie: Well, Alison, thank you so much for joining us on this podcast to talk about PhotoNative. I am super excited, um, my husband, I was like, you know, maybe you should come with me. And then I was like, no, you should not . So I’m gonna be attending by myself, but I have dragged my bestie Kate. She’s coming along and so I can’t wait to see you in a few weeks.
And you know, give everyone my automations and systems knowledge. Guys, you know what I’m gonna be talking about. I’m gonna talking about saving you time and money. So if that interests you, ticket sales are open until tomorrow, you will find a link in the show notes and both Alison and I are open books.
So please feel free to drop into either one of our dms on Instagram and we will make sure that all of your questions get answered. That sounds about it. Alright.
Alison: That’s great. For sure. Thank you so much.
Colie: Thank you guys. That’s it. Talk to you next time.