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Strictly Business 3: Strictly Mandatory.

If you are or want to be a commercial or editorial photographer, you should immediately earmark a wad of cash for ASMP’s Strictly Business 3 conference.

I recently attended SB3 in Los Angeles, and as an emerging photographer it was easily the single most valuable event I have attended since I graduated. Both ASMP national and my local chapter have produced a number of valuable events in the time I’ve been a member, but you will never find anything as value-dense as Strictly Business. $250—or even less if you’re a student or ASMP leader—gets you a hardcore weekend of education, networking, and strategizing.

When your only complaint coming away from an event is that it wasn’t long enough, you know it was a good one. And that’s just the case with SB3. I’ll be blogging more about SB3 over the next couple weeks, but I would strongly encourage any emerging or established professional photographer to attend.

Here, let’s deal with some excuses:

I’m a poor student. I can’t possibly afford this!
Lies! Lies and mendacity! Students get a special discount rate of $200, ASMP member or not. (And you should totally be an ASMP member, by the way. It’s a valuable membership at normal dues, but there is no better steal than the $50 student membership.) SB3 will give you the industry knowledge and connections that will help you start out your business on the right foot. And food’s expensive, right? Good news: ASMP will feed you at least four meals. There’s also alcohol. And if there’s anything both students and photographers love, it’s alcohol.

I’m an emerging photographer! I can’t afford this!
Hi. I’m Colin Mattson. I’m an emerging photographer. I paid my $250 ASMP member rate and ASMP fed me four meals, kept my gullet stuffed between and after meals, and offered me alcohol. They also fed my brain, giving me the tools to get in and stay in business. I met photographers of all levels and ages and built a useful support network. And you know what happens next April? That $250, plus my travel costs, all comes off my taxes. What’s better than a free conference? (I suppose the non-rhetorical answer is “A conference you’re paid to attend,” but those don’t come around terribly often.)

I’m an established photographer and can’t possibly learn anything new.
If you’re completely incapable of learning due to a traumatic brain injury, I’ll buy this one. But for everyone else, just look at the workshop list.
More and more clients want multimedia and video; how ready are you to serve those markets? Even if you’re comfortable shooting video, how comfortable are you with the way rights work for video? (Hint: It doesn’t work like stills.) How’s your personal work going? Sean Kernan’s sessions can help you break out of commercial robot mode. Need some professional insights into your business? SB3 has the industry’s top consultants at bargain basement prices. The industry’s changing; SB3 is an excellent look at how it’s changing and how to deal with it. Four people even get up on stage and bare all about how they’re adapting. (And if you want to be one of them, you might be able to attend the Chicago session for free.)

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