It’s not everyday I get to interview people I admire, but today was one of those days! Today I spoke with Jasser Abu-Giemi, who recognizes himself as a proud dog owner first and by others, as a talented wedding photographer.
There are plenty of photographers that would agree with Jasser that running a photography business is a huge challenge. If not run correctly, you may find yourself – like Jasser. Jasser was committed to creating the best experience and image he could for his clients but unfortunately didn’t focus on the fundamentals of his business. He found himself dreading the wedding season and wasn’t able to keep up with his workflow. Jasser recalled arriving at weddings having forgotten some of his gear at home or having troubles keeping up with deadlines. All of them were simple and correctable mistakes. However, for Jasser, one particular tragedy ended up being a bit of a blessing in disguise, and a very life-defining moment.
“When I heard he (his father) was dying I had to shoot a wedding because I had no one to rely on. I actually had to leave him to go do it. He passed away seven months after that date and then I got hit with the busiest wedding season I’ve ever booked. That was the shittiest thing that ever happened to me. It was then I realized that running a smart business means having a back up plan to keep things going when I couldn’t and if I couldn’t have that then I should just completely stop.”
It was in that moment that it finally occurred to Jasser that even though he was able to capture his wedding clients’ day perfectly, it didn’t mean much if he wasn’t running his business properly. So he decided it was time to shift his attention from the photo-taking aspect of his business to the actual ‘business’ part of his business, and began expanding his knowledge of business by educating and surrounding himself with like-minded entrepreneurial people from both inside and outside the photography industry.
It took Jasser just one full day and night to breathe life into a plan that would bring CPC to fruition. One all-nighter of budgeting, thinking, and planning. The next day, after conceptualizing his dream and building his business plan, he began spreading the word and emailing people in an effort to get the event off the ground as soon as possible – something like this was far overdue for the Canadian photography world. Plus, he had a feeling that if it wasn’t him, someone else would think of it and snatch the idea right out from under him.
In 2012 all of Jasser’s hard work and planning paid off and the first CPC event took place in Vancouver, British Columbia. The planning process for each subsequent event begins about a year and a half in advance, which may seem a bit too early, but this forward-thinking allows Jasser to select, book, and announce speakers for the following year at the current year’s convention. As a result while people are experiencing this incredible event, Jasser is able to unveil the next year’s conference and open up early-bird registration.
And it’s the speakers that really make the lead-up to CPC so exciting, as CPC features some of the world’s top photographers in the industry. Jasser explains it like this:
Instead of aiming for a very diverse line up of speakers I try to find as many as I can in a similar genre…and then I cherry pick them. Think of it like a music festival similar to Coachella. You wouldn’t see a music festival that’s half rap and half country so why are conferences set up that way? What I’ve done is bring the some of the best wedding and portrait photographers in the world together for photographers to meet in person, talk to, and learn from over three days in the beautiful city of Vancouver. It’s kinda like when you can see the best artists from similar or complimentary genres in a single festival and what’s more is that they never will be in the same place at the same time ever again. Each year is unique.
It truly compels people to come from all over the world! We’ve had attendees come from New Zealand, Finland, Russia, Australia, and all over North America. The response we’ve had has been truly amazing!
Not only do attendees get the chance to meet with industry-leading photographers, but they also get the chance to meet and network with tons of photographers from around the world. CPC allows you come together with other photographers to solve problems, become rejuvenated in your business, and gives you the opportunity to find camaraderie without worrying about competition. With so many creative minds in one room, you’ll be sure to walk away with not only a renewed excitement about the world of photography, but also a plethora of new friendships and connections.
For those who haven’t experienced CPC before, there are three different days to choose from. Portrait day (including everything from birth photography to senior portraits), wedding photography day (cover inspiration, tips and tricks for wedding photographers), and, new this year, an additional full day of business fundamentals – something that a lot of photographers don’t have starting out but desperately need, and some seasoned pros may still be missing.
Attendees in the past have said that the exposure to different topics like these (and maybe even different types of photography that they’re not used to working with) has not only given them new tips and tricks to add to their repertoire, but also provides some real lightbulb moments of, “Holy shit, why didn’t I do that before??” It really can help you get past any doubts you may have about your profession, and rekindle the love you have always had for your profession.
Where and when is the next one, you ask?
April 20-22, 2015, in the lovely Vancouver, British Columbia – venue to be decided soon! You can keep-up-to-date with everything CPC by signing up for the CPC newsletter at this link here.
Ready to sign up? Awesome! Take advantage of early bird pricing and special offers (including a chance to get the third day free and an opportunity to save an additional $50) and join us by signing up here!
Article by Esther Kelly.