Top Photography Events to Attend in 2023
Photographers, like any other creative, need the opportunity for a recharge. Sure you could go to the beach for a week, relax, sip drinks (alcoholic or not) with cute umbrellas, reading those books for fun you’ve been putting off, but let’s face it, there are drawbacks to that. You wind up getting sand everywhere – in your luggage, in your shoes, socks and even in your camera bag! Not to mention the sunburn on the tops of your feet or your back that make sitting down more than a bit uncomfortable.
Why splurge on all that sunblock and sand or those new skis, parkas, lift tickets, tire chains, power outages, long lines, and more when you could just as easily attend one or several photography events? Events where you get a chance to spend time with people you’ve followed or wanted a chance to talk with about how they got started in business or how you can grow your business.
Do you have a desire to go to Las Vegas? Do you want to go (back) to Nashville? Do you already know or want to find out what the zombie remark is all about? Do you want a(nother) reason to visit Spain, Germany, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Brazil, the UK and Scotland? Is Iceland on your bucket list? This list has you covered and more.
Things to consider when choosing a photography event
Photography Events – conferences, photo walks, festivals, workshops, and exhibitions – all have, at their core, the chance for photographers of all genres to come together for a few days. Those few days provide the opportunity to get away from the daily grind of business - no matter if they’re full-time or they work as photographers strictly on weekends – and relax, learn, collaborate on creative sessions, meet up with old friends or make new ones.
While there are lots and lots of Photography Events, here’s a brief list of a few of the ones that seem to attract either the most attention or the most loyal following. But first, let's go through some of the things to consider.
Which Photography Event to Attend?
Which photography events to attend is the proverbial “Million Dollar Question.” Almost all conferences advertise themselves as the end-all-be-all for the hobbyist trying to turn their passion into an income or be the “game-changer” to help established photographers grow their business to their expectations and beyond.
Some feel that isn’t the case, but if you follow the lessons learned by others, you can definitely improve your skills - in business, photography, client focus, customer sales, and more
Social media is a powerful research tool, so use it wisely when choosing an event. Most events have Facebook groups now - a good way to learn about the event's culture, the people you’ll meet and the speakers. When considering an event to attend, do some research and see what the group is like and if it resonates with you.
Another way is to find instructors you want to learn from and see what Facebook groups they have. Many will have communities you can join, and the instructors will often post about their experiences teaching. If you want to see one specific instructor live, then this is definitely the way to go - join their group and ask what their events pipeline is. If the instructor doesn't have a group, you can check other social media sites - Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to name just a few. Try following them on various social media platforms, like and interact with their posts - comment on them about the things you like, and start to drop questions in - “I hear you’re going to be at <insert photography event> - can I ask what you’ll be teaching?” If you don’t get a response, don’t think of them as being jerks, rather try again a few days later but word things differently. You might get a better response than you think.
Another way of investigating an event is simply asking in a peer group: “I’m thinking of attending (insert conference name where the instructor is teaching). Can anyone give me their thoughts on it?” That will generally generate a bulk of good responses as well. You can also ask people about their past experiences with a particular event, to get prepped, especially if you're going for the first time.
Traveling Solo or Bringing Someone Special
This often gets overlooked, but sometimes, jetting off to a tropical resort or just simply St. Louis, Missouri, can be jealousy-inducing. The idea of you traveling somewhere, leaving your partner at home, might not sit well. So if your budget and schedules allow for it, you can turn attending an event into a couples or family holiday.
You and everyone else you wind up talking with knows there will be time to relax, socialize and take in some sights. You might want to consider adding some extra time onto the beginning or end of your trip and having them join you. Or if the cost of doing that requires too much credit card crunching (no matter how many more points), suggest you get away somewhere special that might cost a little less when you return.
Bringing Others From Your Team
If you have Team Members or people who work for and with you, realize they might want to go as well. Not just that, they might feel you should pay for part or all of their costs too since, after all, they’re helping you in your business. This is the time to first contact the event organizer and ask if additional team members have to pay the full price for a ticket or if there is a reduced rate.
The worst that will happen is you’ll get a response you might not like - “Sorry - the price you see is the price for tickets.” Even if discounted tickets are offered, this is the time to sit down and have a talk with each person. If the business can’t afford the additional costs of the conference, generally, being upfront and honest is the best approach.
Find some way to reward those team members that can’t go. It might not solve the problem, but it might help people who want to go understand you see them as more than just helping you succeed in your business.
Furry Family Members
Some might think this is a silly consideration, but if you're bonded with your pet dog, cat, bird, hedgehog, etc, chances are, they’re bonded with you. Or if you’re feeding birds, feral cats, possums, birds, etc, there’s the cost of a pet sitter or a pet hotel to consider. Sometimes friends can take over for a few days but don’t skip this step. Consider how being away from them for a few days might seem as silly as it sounds.
Many people will advise that you can write off the costs of your trip on your taxes. We suggest that you consult with your tax person before making these assumptions. Because if you’re based in the US, you know the 3 most terrifying words can be, “You’re being audited.”
Online reviews can be helpful… or not. There have been kerfuffles about things that happened at some photography events - nothing illegal but things that cause people to get upset. Generally speaking, upset people will write more in an online review than someone who is thrilled, so sometimes, take the reviews with a grain of salt.
Perhaps try to find among your circle of friends on Facebook (you’re still not on Facebook? - you really should be - it’s not all just cute kitten videos, but it can be a great way to advertise your business - and we don’t mean boosting posts) who has attended a particular conference, workshop, festival, etc and ask them) who has attended that conference, workshop, festival, etc and ask them.
There are always costs involved, sometimes - depending on where you are in your business - rather eye-opening, credit card crunching and capable of inducing that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach that makes you really question you costs. Sure, you can get rewards points and travel miles, but did you really plan to get *that* many with one trip? Don’t worry - everyone has felt that at some point in time - many people feel it no matter what the stage of their business. We’ve known highly successful photographers who practically break out in a cold sweat when they see the costs of just one trip to a photography event.
Each person has their “tipping point.” That’s the point we think of when considering a cost and saying, “You know… for that amount, if I can’t go and have to lose my money on the ticket, that’s okay since it’s only 19.8 extra hot, 3 extra espresso shots, half decaf fancy coffee drinks."
But to get down to brass tacks, the photography events listed below range in price from as low as free (but depending on what you want to do, there will be costs involved) to $2,400 with price points in between.
If these costs seem too much, maybe consider skipping this year, sign up for email updates and when tickets go on sale - generally at a lower price, buy your ticket then. Not sure which ones start off at a lower price? You could email the event organizers and ask, “are there lower prices when tickets initially go on sale?” The worst that will happen is you’ll get a response you might not like - “Sorry - the price you see is the price for tickets.” But then, you’ll have your answer, which can help with your budget.
If you’re unsure if you can go or not, check the fine print in the refund policy. Many photography events don’t allow for refunds if you can’t make it. Appealing to the organizers because your mother’s brother’s first uncle twice removed has a bad case of toenail fungus seems like a viable excuse - even if it really is true - but many organizers simply don’t allow tickets to be refunded or transferred to someone else.
Or events might have policies that say you can get a full refund if they can find someone else to fill your spot. Depending on the event, that might not be a gamble worth taking since if they can’t, you get all the fun effects of paying for a ticket without any of the fun benefits.
The “how do you get there” question is a big one and not one to ignore. Travel by plane is often the easiest, but that can also entail airplane changes, mad dashes across airports with your carryon gear (you are going to carry your photo gear onto the plane and not check it, right?), lost baggage, baggage fees, taxis, airport and hotel shuttles, Uber, Lyft and other ride sharing services.
Many times, the cost of airfare can be a deciding factor for any would-be conference attendee. Sometimes, planning where you want to go as far in advance as possible is preferable as long as the airlines let you book that far in advance. Some of the less expensive carriers only let you book a flight 3 to 4 months in advance.
Top Photography Events to Attend in 2023
While we want to make this list as diverse as possible, we’re not completely impartial. The ones we prefer are the ones where we’ll be in attendance. If you come to any of them, please feel free to stop by our booth and let us know you read this blog post and if it helped at all. We love to get any feedback you might have.
These are listed in order of when they occur - not necessarily in the order of our preference. So let's take a look at the top photography events to attend in 2023, and let's plan the ones where we'll meet each other.
Imaging USA is the longest-running national photographic convention, expo, and image exhibition in the United States, drawing thousands of professionals worldwide. Over 10,000 photographers, 3 days of Everything Photography. Definitely a headliner when it comes the top photography events to attend in 2023.
Imaging USA's renowned educational classes are geared to improve a photographer's business skills, photographic repertoire, and use of technologies.
Best thing? We're attending this year. Come check out Aftershoot at booth #111, we'll do product demos, you can shoot, cull & edit on spot. Special offers, raffles and more fun stuff to discover, so don't pass us by.
This is the only conference specializing in high school senior and youth sports photography in America. At SYNC, you will improve your photography, creativity, and business with over 25 sessions on practical and timely topics.
The welcoming attendees, trade show & main session keynotes will feed your soul and restore your purpose, so you can return to your business ready to serve your community.
At SYNC, you’ll get a chance to learn and mingle with some of the greatest creative and technical leaders in your industry.
REGISTRATION OPTIONS: $599-$899
WPPI specializes in the creative and business aspects of wedding and portrait photography and filmmaking.
Each year, thousands of professional and aspiring photographers and filmmakers attend WPPI to network, improve their productivity, and enjoy the many attractions in Las Vegas. WPPI combines educational seminars with a major industry trade show and networking events, all designed around learning the latest techniques, building new relationships and growing a business in a friendly, fun environment – all at one time, in one place.
The Reset Conference
The conference is for photographers who are looking to grow their craft and run their businesses better. This is NOT a conference only for beginners. This is a conference for all photographers, regardless of your skill level. Whether you've been in business for one year or twenty, this conference is for you!
Photo Forum Fest
The largest photography congress in Europe. 3 days filled with keynotes, live shootings, over 50 conferences, parties & concerts. The best place to learn more about the photography business and grow as a professional photographer. If you're in Europe, then this is one of the top photography events to attend in 2023.
REGISTRATION OPTIONS: €99-€249
Thrive 23 Conference
Two Day Wedding Photography Conference hitting two UK cities bringing with us SIX outstanding speakers. Day One is inspirational talks to get you all fired up again.
Day Two is all about getting out and shooting with our wonderful presenters. Imagine learning from the best of the best – teaching their best – that’s Thrive.
REGISTRATION OPTIONS: From £375.00
ShutterFest is the UN-Conference! ShutterFest is not meant to structure your entire life by sitting in conference room after conference room. Want to do hands-on shooting classes and photo walks for 3 days straight? Go for it. Want to focus on all business? Have at it. Want to plan some shoots with models and friends? Hit the trade show floor and network with vendors? You get the idea.
REGISTRATION OPTIONS: $249- $499
Way Up North
Way Up North (WUN) is an event for photographers and filmmakers connected to weddings. The soul of the event is the community, and the stories told from past editions, make it one of the top photography events to attend. The heartbeat is the presenters who leave it all on the stage. Over two days, presentations happen one by one. Between presentations, there's parties, chats, and photographs being taken. Everyone is welcome to WUN. No matter your experience or where you come from. Come humble with an open mind and you’ll fit right in.
REGISTRATION OPTIONS: €595 + VAT
The Photo Creators Conference and Experience
The Photo Creators Conference is a boutique conference created by Roberto Valenzuela with a heavy emphasis on hands-on education, and instructor lead live demonstrations in the intimacy of a desert ranch in Tucson AZ. Attendees will be able to choose 5 classes that follow their educational goals.
The Evolve Content Series is unlike any other event you’ve ever attended with us before. It’s your opportunity to not only explore some of the world's most beautiful locations, but to portfolio build in the most iconic and epic locations you’ve ever seen. This event is created with both wedding and editorial photographers in mind.
REGISTRATION OPTIONS: Starting at $1800
ClickCon is a photography and videography conference where the community comes together to innovate, create and collaborate!!! ClickCon features some of the best speakers and educators from all over the world, over 150+ models for you to use to help build your portfolio, over 50 scenic and historic Chicago locations where you can photograph the models, themed workshops and excursions, and three days of an interactive trade show floor with the top vendors and pros, themed shooting bays, and all the latest camera gear available for you to try out
REGISTRATION OPTIONS: $299 - $499
The Portrait Masters
The Portrait Masters Conference has something for every genre of portrait photographer. Every morning there will be three main stage presentations by industry leaders and tastemakers who want you to walk away from this experience feeling confident and fired up to take your business to new heights.
Grain Wedding Festival
Wedding Photography Festival to educate and connect. The only wedding photography festival in the region with top industry names from all around the world.
REGISTRATION OPTIONS: not yet known
The Wolves was born from the commitment to learning. This project was created with the idea of having an unforgettable adventure in a fantastic place and with people who want to share with and learn from others. Learning, building relationships and gaining experience are the three pillars of The Wolves.
REGISTRATION OPTIONS: Booking open
Berlin Photo Week
This year's Photo Week will include the presentation of the EyeEm Awards, the popular Funplace, various photography exhibitions, and exciting workshops.
REGISTRATION OPTIONS: from €10
Ninedots, WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY TRAINING
NineDots is the wedding photography learning community and exists to help you take your craft and business to the next level. It all started with their uniquely collaborative wedding photography workshops; then the unrivaled NineDots Gathering. The amazing, supportive community of wedding photographers that was born out of those events led to the launch of NineDots Membership in 2018.
Conferences are an investment for sure, but they are about networking, energy, and growth through learning all in one single experience. Good thing about some of these events is that there are multiple photography vendors sponsoring or attending. And this means you can play around or get a demo of a product you've been hesitant to try before or even get a special deal.
Here at Aftershoot, we like to sneak in a special deal whenever we go to an event, and even a raffle for attendees to get a change to win a PRO subscription or some branded goodies - so if that isn't an incentive to visit our booth, then come say "Hi" to our unicorns and feel the amazing energy of our team.
Which are the top photography events to attend in 2023 for you? Let us know on our social media channels.