Jean Smith | Photo Native Photoshoot


We can't get enough of the images by Jean Smith from her Native Shoot at the 2018 Photo Native conference.

"As photographers, sometimes we rely on cool locations or amazing styling to carry our photos. But what about the love? What if we strip away the fluff and focus only on human love and interaction? That's exactly what we did for our shoot in the cutest little house in Provo, Utah. We discussed how important it is for the photographer to connect to the couple before, during, and after the shoot. Beyond that, we talked about methods for the photographer to provide direction to the couple and create am environment that the couple can interact naturally and emotionally with each other. Shooting in a home allowed us to get creative with low lighting, directional lighting, and using small spaces to create stunning imagery." Jean Smith

Love these images? Join us for Photo Native 2019 and follow us on instagram for more inspiration.


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Here at Photo Native, we’re more than just a super fun photography conference with high quality education to help take your art and business to the next level. We’re a community of diverse individuals who physically come together once a year to not only learn and grow but to create a welcoming, soft, and whole-hearted place of belonging. Photo Native has been and always will be about people - about YOU.

We believe that one of the most important pillars of a strong and effective community is service and that when we reach outside of ourselves to help and lift those around us, we are all strengthened in the process. This community - YOU GUYS - are so incredible, so giving and that’s why we are beyond stoked to team up with all of you as we band together to intentionally serve and give back.

“Photo Native Made Me Do It” is a 14-day challenge aimed at spreading generosity and heart to those around you. The challenge is comprised of two weeks worth of service-focused prompts with most being super simple and designed to fit into your everyday life. The experience culminates in one final challenge to donate the funds from one of your sessions to Kiva via our Venmo account. The money will go specifically to underprivileged women starting a business, going to school, leading their communities, and building strong families. Photo Native will be matching donations totaling up to $2000 and all money raised will be given to Kiva on May 1st.

As you participate in the 2-week challenge, we, of course, want to be able to follow along and see all the good and love you’re spreading in the world! Every time you post about this initiative on social media, be sure to use hashtag #photonativemademedoit so we can cheer you on and leave you some love!

“Photo Native Made Me Do It” officially starts on Monday, March 19th and ends on Sunday, April 1st. Donations to Kiva may be made to our (Samantha Kelly's) Venmo account (@Samantha-C-Kelly) at any time from March 19th-April 31. We will announce the grand total of all money raised on May 1st. During the challenge, we will be posting daily reminders on our Instagram and in our Facebook group, so join and follow along!! 

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Hickenlooper | Photo Native Photoshoot

This shoot, taught by Scott and Shelby HIckenlooper, might be one of the most shared Photo Native shoots on social media due to its gorgeous on-point boho style and incredible details. Photographed in Studio 1918 in Salt Lake City, this hands-on learning and shooting experience with a beautiful formal bridal couple focused on how to look for and use lighting options, methods of capturing genuine emotions, and effective posing techniques. The idea was to discover how to photograph details for vendors while also getting creative and shooting for yourself.

Vendors: Cake: Flour and Flourish / HMUA: Alex Crabtree Hair and Makeup / Florals: The Potted Pansy / Styling: Renata Stone / Dress: @altamodabridal / Models: Jaycee Grover River Grover / Photographers: @hickenloopers

Love these images? Join us for Photo Native 2019 and follow us on instagram for more inspiration.



Samantha Kelly | Photo Native Photoshoot


I'll never forget this Native Shoot experience. Yes, we had 10 incredibly talented photographers all together shooting film. Yes, we had the opportunity to talk about photographing families on film and learn from one another. And yes, we all got some wonderful images. 

But, more than any of that, it was the family- this family- that impressed me the very most. In their TINY, love-packed home, there was such a sense of contentment and peace from the outside world that we could all immediately feel as we walked inside. Like shelter from the cold, cold January weather outside, this home was a literal haven, a safe and secure little space for this family to grow, learn, play, and love in. 

Beauty mama, Cate, even told me how a few years previously, they had lived in a much, much larger home elsewhere. But now, with far less square feet and far less possessions than they had before, they are infinitely more happy. "Just what our family needed," she told me. 

Less is truly more. 

- Samantha Kelly, Photo Native Shoot Instructor
Family: Cate

Love these images? Join us for Photo Native 2019 and follow us on instagram for more inspiration.



Photo Native 2019 Registration Opens TOMORROW!!

Registration for Photo Native opens up ONE WEEK from today!! I know, we can't believe it either. Basically, we're really excited about Photo Native in Palm Springs - and it seems like we're not the only ones. So we figured, why wait?! 

Class Pass ($550): From March 1st-June 30th, the Class Pass will be offered at an Early Bird price of $550 (normally $750). The Class Pass give you access to the 2019 Photo Native conference, which includes the opening Native Social on February 11th, all classes on February 12th & 13th, as well as the Photo Native party.

Class Pass - 50% Deposit ($275): Same as the Class Pass, but pay only half now (checking accounts rejoice!) and the rest later! Offered for $275 for a limited time and we'll invoice you the remaining $275 in December. 

Native Shoots, Native Dinners, and other add ons: These will be available add on to your PN experience this fall. That way we can have times, locations, and styling details nailed down before you buy. 

If you've been searching for a place and community where you can be your own super cool/pretty dang un-hip/somewhere-in-between self, learn from people who are as inspiring and experienced as they are kind, and party with your fellow photo nerds–old and new–Photo Native just may be exactly what your soul needs. Come hang with us for three killer days full of learning, growth, and dance party fun times. 

But you don't have to take our word for it! This is what some awesome people who attended Photo Native in January had to say ...

"Photo Native filled a hole in me I didn't realize was so big. This conference woke me up. It made me SEE me better. See my path better. See my goals better. I feel like I've been really shown how to start living with more of a purpose. I'm so thankful!" 

- Jennifer Flemings

"Photo Native is THE best conference I've attended. There are so many like-minded and creative colleagues who attend and I felt like I walked away with something valuable after every session. The instructors are super accessible and the whole thing feels more like a reunion gathering than a conference."

- Sarah Yeoman

"I am so, so grateful for Photo Native. I've learned so much about about myself, my work and my business. I went into Photo Native feeling unsure of what to expect this year, but came out so grateful for all of the things that I learned. I truly feel like I belong when I'm at Photo Native."
- Sadie Banks

"When I finally decided to attend Photo Native, I was so horribly nervous. I have a hard time connecting with people and being outgoing so it was a huge leap of faith for me. I am proud of myself for doing something out of my comfort zone and I was rewarded so greatly by so many instructors who shared their stories, failures and successes. I felt my heart bursting at so many moments. I came away with a mind and book full of knowledge and encouragement that will help me with my journey of finding out who I am and what I want my business to be. I think I will have to attend EVERY year. I feel a little bit addicted ..."

- Trishelle  Haight

"I literally had to hold back tears about 75% of the time, from how moved I was over the vulnerability of the speakers, their passion for their art and to make a lasting difference in our lives, the genuine support for us and our dreams, struggles and goals. I truly felt like I belonged." 

- Misty Carone

"I left Photo Native 2018 with renewed inspiration for my work and concrete steps to move my business forward in a focused way! I really loved the group classes, the hands-on shoots, and how approachable and giving the instructors were. It's the kind of conference that fosters real connections." 

- Rebecca Denton

"Photo Native is the annual boost I need to keep me creatively inspired and emotionally recharged. I know of no other conference where everyone comes in on the same playing field—ready to learn and grow and excited to meet and feed off of other artists, regardless of skill level. My experiences at Photo Native have left me feeling more confident in my ability to grow and become who I dream of becoming."
- Hydee Davis

So set your alarms for March 1st because there's limited space at PN2019 and we can't wait for you to be in Palm Springs with us. You belong! 📷: Heather Nan




Summer Murdock | Photo Native Featured Instructor


Q: When you think of yourself as a photographer, do you feel like you’re more business-minded or more art/creativity-minded? Or are you a mix? 

I am a good mix of the two. Some tell me I am a rare breed because of that. My heart lives on the creative side, but I am very logical too. It's like I have two totally separate personalities inside my head. I love the challenge of getting the two to work together.

Q: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges photographers are faced with right now? 

Oversaturation of photographers and a market that is continually telling us that we should work in exchange for credit or recognition. 

Q: What’s been one of the biggest hurdles you’ve had to overcome in your business in order for it to continue to thrive and be successful? 

I have had to overcome many hurdles for my business to thrive and be successful. My business has gone in a direction that I could have never predicted. Over the years, I have learned that a lot of people have business advice they think applies to all of us...rules that should not be broken. This is not always true. I have unique strengths and unique weaknesses. Just because something works for one person does not mean it will work for me. I have learned that I should listen to the advice and experiences of others but go with my gut.....even if it goes against the grain. Sometimes my gut has led me to fall flat on my face, but more often it has helped me to run a business that works for me and plays to my unique strengths.

Q: How do you maintain your own, unique voice in your work in a world where you’re constantly bombarded with other artists’ images?

It's really simple; I just don't spend too much time looking. It gets in my head. I have always been one to put my head down and do MY work. I look around occasionally, but I notice when I start looking too much, I start disliking my work. When I and open my eyes to the beauty that is right in front of my face and focus on that I make work that is ME. 

Q: How do you deal with burnout? What do you do to boost your creativity when you’re in a slump?

 Burnout is real and it is hard. When I'm feeling that way, I do several things. First, I stop looking at social media (or at least cut down on mindless browsing). Somehow social media makes me feel like my work looks like everyone else's work...and maybe it does, but if I am not looking, I won't know that. :) Next, I have learned that when I am feeling the burnout, instead of putting down my camera, I should force myself to pick it up anyways. I am always surprised at how just picking up the camera and opening my eyes to what the interesting things right in front of me, makes me feel creatively energized. To me, burnout is just another word for boredom. If I am bored, it's because I am doing the same thing mindlessly over and over. If I'm feeling it, it's a sign it's time to dig deep and push myself. So I figure out what I can do differently. I make sure I find time to make work that excites ME!!! 

Q: When do you feel the most creative?

I feel most creative when I am living in the present moment and aware of what is around me. Being outside often brings this out in me! 

Q: Have you ever felt that running the business side of things mentally overwhelms you? How did you overcome that?

Yes, it is an ongoing struggle for me. The only thing that keeps me sane is making plans and lists of everything that has to be done and getting to work. Lists used to overwhelm me because as a business owner, I pretty much NEVER have everything checked off the list. I am NEVER caught up. I have learned to accept that as normal. There will always be a list. I have learned to focus on the now and do what I can instead of stressing about what I didn't get done yesterday or what I have to do tomorrow. I only have right now. It has been a game changer for my sanity and anxiety. 

Q: How did you find your style?

(editing, mood, lighting, etc)So many people want a fast path to figuring out their stye, but there is no quick trick. It takes time, patience and experimentation. Style is a fluid thing that is always changing. I find it by listening to my heart. I recognize when I shoot something that excites me and know that I need to do more of that. When I shoot something that bores me, I know to go in another direction. Doing this over and over and over keeps me in tune with my personal style. 

Q: What is your favorite part about teaching and connecting with students?

I love learning. I am a forever student. I am obsessed with that feeling I get when I figure something out that I didn't fully understand. That feeling is what motivates me when I teach. I love observing and helping other experience those "aha" moments. I struggle with the idea of being the "teacher" though because every single time I "teach" a group of "students" I learn so much from them. Teaching and learning is a collaborative that both humbles me and energizes me. 

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I try not to plan that far ahead. I am reminded of a quote from a favorite book "The Alchemist" by Paul Coelho: "When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.” I am now doing things in my business that I would have never been able to dream ten years ago. I could have never planned this.  I have learned to look inward to know what I should do next in my life and my career and commit to it and DO IT. Once I commit to that thing and do it the next thing lights up..I do that, and then the next thing lights up….and the next. I have learned that if I just keep doing the next right thing, one thing at a time... it turns into a really good life and career. That's all I can do...the next right thing. I can't plan for ten years because who knows what's going to happen. 

Q: If you are a parent, what’s one tip you have for juggling a super crazy photographer’s work schedule with parenthood?

I have had to accept that I cannot do everything. As a mom to four kids who works mostly from home, this has been my biggest struggle. I can't be the room mom at school, keep a clean and organized house, run my kids to all of their activities, have dinner on the table every night, be at every single soccer game or event AND run a business. IMPOSSIBLE. I have to let go of somethings and hire out help when needed. Then I have to let the feelings of guilt roll over me and out the window. There is no room for guilt in my life. I am doing my best and I focus on that vs all the should have, could have, would haves. 

Loved getting to know our feature Instructor? Join us for Photo Native 2019 and follow us on instagram for more inspiration.



Photo Native is moving!

Have you heard the news?! Photo Native 2019 will be February 11-13 at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, California. We're over the moon giddy with excitement!! PN2019 is going to be the BEST BEST BEST ever. Palm Springs, California! GUYS. We've reserved a special room block at The Ace which means Photo Native will basically have the entire place to ourselves! With rad places like Joshua Tree and Salvation Mountain all within driving distance, just THINK of all the Native Shoot possibilities! Also there's a pool. And sunshine. And palm trees. And rentable bikes. And rooms with outdoor fireplaces. And is it February 11th-13th, 2019 already!? 

Photo Native has always been about the people, and we're confident that the warmth and comraderie will only be elevated in this new space. So come, bring your pals, because wherever Photo Native is - you belong.





Brooke Schultz | Photo Native Photoshoot


It’s better to be ridiculous than to be boring, I preached to them. JUST LOOK AT THIS SHIRT I’M WEARING and remember that. And that shirt? It shed all over the floor like a freakin dog (an emerald green fringy dog with questionable fashion sense) which was absolutely ridiculous, so, mission accomplished.
I’ve been my share of ridiculous. I’m much more proud of those moments than the times i’ve been pitifully boring, wanting to fade into the background and melt into the floor and have no one notice me. I still find myself wanting to hide, find some normal status quo groove and kick back to rides. stop getting fired up about things. stop ughing back and forth between this need to be vulnerable, open, honest, real, and the desire to shell over. So it's a process, folks. All of us are works in progress.
Which brings me to PHOTO NATIVE. i joked about the nervous pee (hashtag pregnant) but standing up and laying my whole process and deep caring out there for you all to see and feel too was sky high flying and like walking on whipped air. it was a positively glorious experience to share and connect and be with so many wonderful like minded creators and my only regret is not having enough time to really talk, really see and hear on a deep level so many of you who were so kind to me.
We got to dive deeper in the shoot I led, with 13 of you wondering why in the world you signed up to listen to this dog-shirt-clad totally uncool person tell you about shooting a family. But you know–in the course of our shoot, magic happened. And before you roll your eyes cause I will confess I totes overuse the word magic–let me explain. A hundred different times these real, gorgeous moments would happen in front of us without me doing anything. It was pure family love unfolding all by itself the way it does when a dozen cameras aren’t on it. I kept pointing and whisper-screaming “this!!” and then with a chorus of head nods, we all sank in to that knowing: there’s something about family that transcends everything else, and all we gotta do is show up and pay attention to it. 

Of course, you can't get to that pure creation state without having your tools tack-sharp, so we talked about film, about how to help a family feel comfortable, the road map of a shoot from where to start to what to do when you get stuck to the perfect ending that works every single time. each photographer also got a chance to direct the family and receive feedback from me, because we can all be inspired but actually hitting the pavement and applying the concepts is where it gets tricky, so dissecting the moments that rocked and the moments that fell flat (for errrbody, me included!) were some of the most educational and eye-opening highlights for all of us.




Stacy Kamler | Photo Native Student Review


Q: How have you grown as an artist since attending Photo Native?

Photo Native didn’t only teach me about new photography techniques to use for my clients, but also taught me about my personal life.  Coming back home after Photo Native, I deleted the Facebook app off of my phone and only checked it twice a day.  I became more present in my life and with my friends and family.  Actually getting out to see the world (even if it was my own backyard) has helped me stay refreshed and creative.   I also learned that sometimes the things that you fear the most is the thing that could be holding you back from your greatness.  This year I have spent a lot of time working to build my business so I can take it full -time in 2018! 

Q: What business skills have you implemented since attending Photo Native?

I went to India Earl's class and she had talked about how to become friends with your clients.  I took so much out of this class and have implemented some of her techniques and questionnaires to take place before, during, and after shooting.  I have become friends with so many of the my clients this year and that has led to a more fulfilling job and happier clients! 

Q: You mentioned you LOVED the community and friends you made here, can you expand on that? 

I still keep in contact with a few of the girls that I had become friends with.   Having a community all over the USA is great.  It didn’t matter where you were at in your career whether a hobbyist or made it a full-time career, you could learn from everyone. Everyone was so supportive.  My favorite was being around that many creatives.  My wheels came home turning with ideas of what I wanted to shoot and what I wanted to implement in my business.  

Q: What is your #1 takeaway from Photo Native? 

My number one thing that I took away from Photo Native would be the drive to take my business full-time.  I have been working so hard this past year to set up 2018 as another successful year.  This conference pushed me to do more, be more, and see more in a different perspective.  

Loved getting to know our feature student? Follow us on instagram for more inspiration.    



Alyssia Baird | Photo Native Photoshoot


For the styled shoot I knew we'd be shooting inside so I wanted something soft and dreamy! Flowers create so much for photos and I loved the idea of having a design on the wall. I showed Braelynn from Bella Bodas Events the soft blue dress we'd be photographing and that I loved the Victorian style. She is a mastermind!! Instead of turning to Pinterest she researched the Victorian era and was inspired by the rugs of that time. She then helped Adrien from Love Blooms Floral Design see her vision to create that gorgeous backdrop! I loved meeting all the different attendees of my class with all different levels in their photography career. I talked about connecting with their clients in order to create images with real emotion and connection. Then I demonstrated how I would work with a couple and let them take turns being in charge directing the couple. It was so fun to see the images everyone posted from the shoot with their own creative spin! 

Vendors: HMUA: Katie Livingston / Wedding Planner: Bella Bodas and Events / Floral: Love Blooms Floral Design / Dress: Natalie Wynn Design / Venue: Wild Willow Studio / Rentals: The Shabby Chic Sisters / Cake: Flour & Flourish / Paper Suite: West End Girl studio / Photography: Alyssia B Photography

Love these images? Join us for Photo Native 2018 and follow us on instagram for more inspiration.