I'm not scared to say I'm a nerd. I'm a book worm. I love reading whether it be books, magazines or online, and I'm constantly in a state of improving myself. This all stems from when I was a young girl and way before the Internet. After we would have our family dinners on school nights, we were not allowed to watch television, and instead would study and do our homework until it was time for bed. Even though I often completed my school work before coming home, my answer to my father that I didn't have any homework was not good enough. He would then wisely tell me that I needed to be in a mindset to constantly expand my horizons, and would send me down to the living room to our set of encyclopedias. We had two sets, one was red and the other was brown. I think I even remember the day the salesman came to our door and my mother put in her order.
So there I would sit, blankly staring at the volumes of encyclopedias, equally staring back at me. There weren't any exciting graphics or designs on the books pulling me in or inviting my brain to absorb information. They were sitting there completely upright and uptight. My biggest challenge at this point was to pick one book and find a topic to read about. Sometimes I would think of subjects I had previously read and choose those books. Other times I went outside my comfort zone, randomly picked a book and page, and to my surprise, would be drawn into this seemingly blank topic. Wow, I learned something new and without realizing it, and by divine intervention, that same topic would somehow appear in a future conversation. My willingness to go outside of my comfort zone and venture into a new topic and avenue had been rewarded. It was positively reinforcing my choice to try something new.
This confirmation of reading more, exploring my world and expanding my horizons has been reinforced over and over again throughout my life, and now I actively seek out avenues to learn. More recently this was by attending Skip's Summer School right here in my backyard at the MGM. Last year was the first year of this conference, and I was very impressed with the intimate atmosphere, classroom-type setting, and access to some of the industry's top photographers, leaders and educators. Skip Cohen has spent many years as the head of the industry's top organizations and last year stepped down and formed this new way of educating and raising up the industry through a new format.
As you can imagine, it was a no-brainer for me to attend again this year. In addition to learning and listening to some wonderful speakers such as combat photographer Stacy Pearsall, I was also able to meet and network with fellow photographers and industry leaders such as Scott Bourne (and new Las Vegas resident!) and the owner of my printing lab, Mike Hanline. What more could I ask for! I came away from the conference full of ideas, contacts and fulfillment of learning and expanding my knowledge.
Thank you Skip for a wonderful program combining an atmosphere of respect, learning and bringing us together to become a stronger industry. I look forward to attending again next year, and if you need a local speaker to contribute to the line-up, I'd be more than happy to read up on how to give the perfect presentation!