WPPI, Day Three ~ The best day of my life!

Yep, best day of my life thus far. Sorry Mark, today topped our wedding day.

Today I was privileged to see two amazingly talented photographers speak, and I learned SO much, and am totally on FIRE! Away we go…

Part One

First was Jasmine Star’s “Dear Me, Stop Making the Same Mistakes. Love, The Future Me.” I have been looking forward to this presentation for MONTHS, and I was so super excited to finally get to see it. She is adorable, hilarious and real. She had the entire audience turn to each other and say, “Keep it real.” I love that, because that’s how I live my life and run my business.

I took a butt-load of notes that I will study and scrutinize when I get home. I’ll probably even make flash cards. (Y’all know I’m nerdy like that.)


She covered invaluable information about mistakes she’s made in her career and how to avoid them by streamlining workflow, conducting a prospective client meeting, preparing clients for photo shoots, etc. BRILLIANT TOPIC!

The one that touched me the most was “Who cares if they don’t like you?” She opened up and admitted that she grew up very poor, home schooled, overweight and constantly worried about what others thought of her. If you read my blog, you know that I came from a troubled household and was bullied for years in school. So of course I’ve always worried about what people think of me. I’ve gotten much better, but I still do worry. You will see as you read on how that affected me even today.

Jasmine was nice enough to lend extra time (a LOT of extra time, in fact) to meet people after her seminar was over. When I went out into the main hallway, I saw this:


Yes, that was the line of people waiting to meet Jasmine Star and have their photo taken with her. I had another class to go to, so I didn’t wait the two hours. I love ya Jasmine, but I had places to go, people to see, and things to learn.

Part Two

Sal Cincotta is currently my favorite person on earth. (Again, sorry Mark.) He’s an amazingly talented and dynamic photographer based out of St Louis. His seminar was entitled “Weddings: Making Real Money Doing What You Love.” When we got into the room, the title on the screen had been simply shortened to “Making Money.” Yeah, this was a business class, and I seriously needed it.

This seminar was JAM PACKED with AHH-MAY-ZING business and marketing strategies – educating the client, stepping up our game to stand out, pricing, innovation, etc. I would go on and on, but you can simply buy his book, The Photographer’s MBA and read all about it. I’m going to be a Ninja Photographer!


I purchased the book after his seminar and I waited in line to speak to him and get it autographed. I wasn’t nervous to meet him, because hey ho, oh ey, he’s Italian just like me, yo! He’s so cool and totally himself. Love it. (I might have a tiny crush on him, but don’t tell anyone.)

So here I was, waiting in line, clutching my new copy of what I consider to be the photographers’ Bible, and I whispered to the person next to me, “I’m so scared to tell him I shoot film…” I was totally convinced that when I told him I was a film photographer, he was, in his dynamic, motivational way, going to tell me that if I was going to make it in these changing times, I needed to grow with technology, suck it up, and go digital. Yes … again, I had created anxiety in my deluded little head.

When it was my time to step up, I handed my digital camera (go-to bloggin’ camera) to a nice guy in line next to me, and handed my book to Sal. He is way less intimidating in a one-on-one situation. He was so nice, shaking my hand and requesting I do my best “valley girl” accent because I’m from the valley. I’m embarrassed to say, I complied and did the whole, “Like, whatEVER. You know, like…” He laughed, so it was worth it.

My question for him was this: What’s his opinion on my working from home and keeping my office in my home as I continue to grow my business and offer more luxurious products. His answer: If he was specializing in weddings and wasn’t doing so much portrait work, he’d still work out of his house. BAM! I don’t need the expensive rented studio to be awesome.

Then I very timidly said, “…and I shoot 100% film.”

His face lit up and he said, “That is AWESOME!” while high-fiving me. (Yes, I did indeed get a high-five.) “That’s really awesome.”

“I was SO scared to tell you I shoot film! I thought you were going to say I couldn’t have the quality I needed with film.”

“Oh sure you can!”

I told him about my stylized shoots – how I put them together myself, make them unique, and do all the styling. He said I’m already setting myself apart from everyone else, which is what he discussed a lot during his seminar. Yay ME!

I was super excited when he told me that he and his team are going to start introducing FILM into their packages. “It’s not out yet, but we are.”

“Well, it’s gonna be out now, because I’m blogging TONIGHT.”

He laughed. “Go ahead and put it out there.” (Done.)

I am just so stinking excited that they’re adding film to their packages to be different and ahead of the curve. Rock on!

We talked a little bit about what equipment I use and he nodded his head with a smile, then … wait for it … he asked if I could send him some of my work because he’d really like to see it. Because he’s a self-proclaimed Facebook whore, I friended him tonight, and tomorrow I’ll send him a few links.

Here we are, posing it up, both cutely, and then “badass,” as he requested.



As soon as I walked out of that conference room I called Mark and he listened to me babble all about my awesome experience with Sal and how we’re going to do luxury albums and sticky albums and… on and on for fifteen minutes without taking a breath. “What?” he had to keep asking because I was talking so fast.

So yeah, I had a pretty fabulous day. It turns out that I’m doing so many more things right than I even knew, and now I’m ready to really step it up. Watch out world, here comes Dawn Kelly, and she’s taking the photography world by storm! Outta my way!

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March 13, 2013

First, I'm replaced by JJ the cat, then in one day by Jasmine Star and Sal what's-his-name. I better step up my game too or I'll get fired (again).

March 13, 2013

Awesome! I bought Sal's book and read it on the way there. Sounds like you had an awesome time! I wish I was able to stay longer, but next year I plan on staying the whole time, especially with it not being too expensive to get there. Love all the blog posts and I'm so glad to have met you! Keep in touch. I'd be happy to share the notes I have from myself and my mom (whom I sent to the boring business classes so I could fully utilize this free class thing). Hope you enjoy the last day or two there!

March 13, 2013

Thanks! I'm so glad I met you too! We need to stick together and support each other. It's how we'll get better. I'm happy I found another photog to bounce ideas off of. Hit me up for advice or info on shooting film any time. You'll be hearing from me about how to shoot under water, trust me. :)

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