A few months ago, I met a woman while I was volunteering for an event for Hope for LA who told me she thought the OC Photo Summit hosted by Saddleback Church might be coming up. I immediately did a quick Google search on my phone to understand the dates and I was so relieved/excited when I learned I hadn't missed it and had time to plan on going.
So a few weeks ago, I made the trek down to Lake Forest to join hundreds of other photographers at the main Saddleback Church campus and partake in the amazing event that is the OC Photo Summit. They have a really unique ministry made up of photographers, called PICS: Photographer's In Christ's Service and they played a big role in this event. The last time I attended the main campus was a decade ago, while I was on project with Campus Crusade for Christ the summer of 2004.
Though it was a little gloomy in the morning, and even though it had been a while, the campus was just as beautiful as I remembered it.
The lineup of speakers they had this year was impressive. Each of them had a really different take on photography in their areas of expertise and their wisdom they shared was such a treat.
First up was Frank Salas, a wedding photographer whose amazing photoshop skills take his beautiful images to the next level. He's got tremendous experience in the wedding industry and it was delightful to hear from him as he showcased some of his work.
The next speaker, Greg Schneider, is a fantastic human being with an affinity for capturing individuals who have lived a life full of hard stories to tell. This man is witty, candid and full of wisdom. I was so inspired by his honest love and affection for people. When Greg's not involved in the corporate arena photographing major events for some of the most influential men and women in the world of business, he spends his time photographing and participating in the work of the Rescue Missions all around the nation. I could resonate so much with the love he has for this work, because I too really enjoy it and appreciate giving back in that way.
Just when I thought it couldn't get better, Aaron Chang took the stage and brought to us the harsh reality that in a poll he read. Aaron learned that the most difficult job to pursue is to be a rockstar, and the second? A photographer. (Pretty sure I let out a deep sigh when he mentioned this). This man is a testament to what it is to put your life on the line to do what you want to do. Aaron spent a lot of time in Hawaii going after the shots everyone else was too scared to get. He said something I'll never forget:
Finally, the legend himself took the stage: Douglas Kirkland. Douglas has been responsible for some of the most iconic images of the last several decades of the largest stars of our time. And I also happen to have admired him and his work for years.
He recounted his time growing up in a small town in Canada and snapping, first photo at 10 years old and spoke about his current wife, Françoise, and how he met her when she came to visit her mother on set of an Audrey Hepburn shoot while in Paris. It wasn't difficult to see his adoration for her and know how fond he is.
His story started to really make me think he's like the Forrest Gump of Photography because the whole "so then I just kept going..." really seemed to suit him as he continued to storytell. It was moving to listen to his stories of the time he spent with Coco Chanel in 1962 and how much of a profound impact she had on his life.
He shared his humility and grace with us as he made sure to encourage each of us with a few things. The first:
The second big piece of advice:
As you can tell from the photo above, I was clearly captivated, so you can imagine how happy I was when I had the opportunity to meet Douglas and talk with him about his monograph, A Life in Pictures. This book is stunning, by the way. Please do yourself a favor and get a copy! He was gracious enough to sign it for me and spend time with me pouring over the pages of his iconic images.
All in all, it was an amazing day and Saddleback did a wonderful job organizing this event. Looking forward to next year's event already!