Mystic Seminars 2016 Recap | Part 1,

I thought I would get this post up a bit earlier than I did, given that I was at Mystic Seminars almost a month ago, but January was filled with travel, professional development and one heck of a nasty head cold that I’m still recovering from.

I’ve had a chance to go through my notes from the conference, and while some speakers were more captivating than others, and some resonated more with me than others, there were nuggets of inspiration throughout the whole week.  I’ve decided to break down those nuggets into longer blog posts because I want to have a chance to expand on what certain information means to me, personally and professionally.

Overall, though, Mystic Seminars was a fantastic conference. It was smaller than WPPI (350 photographers compared to thousands) and I loved that only one presentation happened at a time so I was able to hear all of the speakers rather than having to choose.  The entire conference happened in one hotel so it was super easy to navigate, and the location in downtown Portland was a fabulous base for exploring.

One of the big selling points of Mystic Seminars is that everyone, instructors included, are supposed to be approachable.  There are chances to mingle and chat with everyone if you make the effort.

However, I do have mixed feeling about the reality of this.  I didn’t find it as easy as it seemed like it could have been.  I know I’m an introvert and I often connect better over dinner than a night at a club, but I found several barriers to the mingling at Mystic.  For example, at the opening party, drinks were not free and there was a complicated system of drink tickets in place that made it challenging to actually get a drink if I wanted to pay for it.  Which I didn’t really.  As a second example, there was a conference bowling trip organized, and while I do enjoy bowling, there was also a fee to participate.  I know I’m nitpicking a little, but I felt pretty strongly that these are expenses that should have been included in my conference registration fee.  If part of the goal of the conference is to encourage interaction and community, placing a fee on the two opportunities to do so, didn’t feel quite right.

So, while I don’t feel like I fostered relationships with photographers from across the country, I do feel like I got to really know my roommates, one of which I had never met and one of which I had not spent a ton of time with.  It seems counter intuitive that it would take flying to Portland to connect with photographers in my own Denver market, but that’s what happened.  You can our adventures to the Oregon coast here.

More thoughts to come soon, but despite a few gripes I had about how the conference was organized, there are enough good things about Mystic Seminars that I could definitely consider going back in the future.

Mystic Seminar Cannon Beach photo Photo above taken by Savannah Chandler.  Photographers using our iPhones to take selfies while the professional gear hangs at our waists.  Classic.

And as a bonus, this trip helped me check goal #57 off my 101 Goals in 1001 Days List.


  1. Great review – I’ve always been tempted to go to this. You’re so right – that sometimes it takes a trip to a new city to connect with people from Denver! Glad you had fun!

  2. Great review! There are so many different conferences to go to it’s hard to know which ones are a good investment. And I agree with the others – the photo is totally the story of a photographer’s life! :)

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