ShutterFest 17 logo

ShutterFest 17: Shoot, Learn, Party

Lori Unruh Photography Education, Studio Events

A different kind of convention.

ShutterFest 17 logoLast week, Jeff and I traveled to St. Louis for ShutterFest 17, the fourth annual ShutterFest. This was our third year attending as speakers and image competition judges! ShutterFest is a different kind of convention… geared towards small class size, lots of interaction with the speakers, lots of hands-on shooting, portfolio building, and FUN.

The tagline of ShutterFest is “Shoot. Learn. Party.

Shoot.

ShutterFest model Mari-Katherine Poole. Concept and dress by Bambi Cantrell. Hair and makeup by Tyler Kent Salon. Image by Lori Unruh Poole.

At the heart of the ShutterFest brand is its focus on lots of shooting. It is becoming a huge draw for models all over the country to come and build their portfolios hand-in-hand with the photographers who attend. This year, we brought our 16 year old daughter Mari-Katherine to model. Our first day, we ran into none other than Bambi Cantrell in the hallway. Bambi needed a model to try out the concepts she was going to use in her classes. Mari-Katherine’s very first ShutterFest 17 shoot was with one of the country’s top photographers and educators! And we got to tag along and shoot. Here’s a couple of our favorites.

ShutterFest model Mari-Katherine Poole. Concept and dress by Bambi Cantrell. Hair and makeup by Tyler Kent Salon. Image by Lori Unruh Poole.

ShutterFest model Mari-Katherine Poole. Concept and dress by Bambi Cantrell. Hair and makeup by Tyler Kent Salon. Image by Lori Unruh Poole.

ShutterFest model Mari-Katherine Poole. Concept and dress by Bambi Cantrell. Hair and makeup by Tyler Kent Salon. Image by Lori Unruh Poole.

ShutterFest model Mari-Katherine Poole. Concept and dress by Bambi Cantrell. Hair and makeup by Tyler Kent Salon. Image by Lori Unruh Poole.

Learn.

Image Competition.

Of course, every convention is about learning. Jeff and I are huge advocates for and participants in Image Competition. Click here for an explanation of how image competition works. I was one of the ShutterFest 17 judges, and Jeff was a jury chair (like a moderator for the judges). I always learn so much seeing hundreds of images and hearing my fellow judges’ comments on them. Jeff and I entered the competition as well — but of course we don’t judge our own images. I’m really excited to announce that one of my images took Second Place in the Wedding Photojournalism category! To qualify for the photojournalism category, and image has to be unposed/unstaged, it usually captures a specific moment, and minimal Photoshop is used to alter the image. So it can be especially difficult to create a merit image with these constraints. Pretty stoked to merit, let alone take second.

ShutterFest award winning image titled “Remembrance” by Lori Unruh Poole

Jeff also received a merit for his image, “She Would Have Been 86” in the General Portrait category.

ShutterFest merit image

ShutterFest 17 merit image “She Would Have Been 86” by Jeff Poole

Classes.

Understanding Image Competition. This was the first of three classes Jeff and I taught at ShutterFest 17. This was a lecture style class in which we explained how competition works. We explored the scoring system the judges use. Then we defined and gave examples of each of the Twelve Elements used to evaluate the images. Finally, we discussed some common pitfalls we see in competition entries, and how to avoid them. Our class was fired up to start competing!

ShutterFest 17 Jeff Lori Wedding Details that Wow. This hands-on class explored the importance of photographing small details on the wedding day in the era of Pinterest and Instagram. To give our students lots of great things to shoot, we had the entire Gothic Corridor decorated and styled by a wedding designer — fresh flower centerpieces, chargers and stemware, even a wedding cake. We also used one of Sal’s beautiful wedding gowns, and brought several sets of bridal jewelry with us from Wilmington. We talked about lens choice, angle, lighting strategy, staging, and more.

Image courtesy of Meredith Ryncarz

Union Station weddings. Shutterfest 17 Jeff Lori Union Station weddings. Shutterfest 17 Jeff Lori Union Station weddings. Shutterfest 17 Jeff Lori Union Station weddings. Shutterfest 17 Jeff Lori

Shooting for Image Competition. In our final class, we applied the information we discussed in our Understanding Image Competition class to a live demo shoot for our students. Using a model (again Mari-Katherine), we styled a concept wardrobe live during class, set up the lights, worked the posing, and created a pretty cool image.

ShutterFest 17 Jeff and Lori

Image courtesy of Anne Money

ShutterFest 17 Jeff and Lori

Image courtesy of Anne Money

We certainly had some challenges shooting in an area with uncontrolled natural light, but I think our results are pretty awesome! This is the actual image shot during class, with some basic Photoshop tweaks to polish it up.

Shutterfest 17 Jeff Lori concept shoot

ShutterFest model Mari-Katherine Poole. Hair and Makeup by Tyler Kent Salon. Image by Lori Unruh Poole.

Party.

Once all the classes are done each day, the beautiful hotel lobby becomes the central gathering place for all the attendees. Some nights were simple socializing over drinks. Then there was the 90s-themed costume party. And then the Lip Sync Battle. Dinners with friends, a few rounds at the bar… ShutterFesters DEFINITELY know how to party!

My favorite souvenirs from conferences has become taking selfies with our friends from all over the country. Shocking, I know… a photographer that likes images. Here’s a lil slideshow I put together that I think pretty well showcases our week of shooting, learning, and partying.

So did you attend ShutterFest this year?  What was your favorite part?  Tell us in the comments below.

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