Organizers of the first annual “The Portrait Masters” photography conference and trade show held on October 3, 2017 in Palm Springs may be celebrating more than the enormous success and public lauding of its unique blend of traditional conference and event streaming; they could be celebrating the newest and most innovative approach to the way conferences and Expos are presented and experienced by attendees for the foreseeable future. Creating the perfect balance between a traditional live “in-person” experience and a live “virtual” experience is what the folks at Digital Product Studio achieved for The Portrait Masters Conference. Providing an intimate setting for 400 event attendees while captivating a worldwide audience with interactive participation is quickly becoming the new model for revitalizing the conference and trade show industry.
“This event was the first of its kind and one that pressed my team to the top of their game,” explains Aaron Andersen, partner and content director at Digital Product Studio which coordinated the conference. “We were producing three events simultaneously: the education conference, a complete broadcast of the trade show experience, and a behind-the-scenes documentary that captured the experiences of conference attendees.”
This new and highly touted approach to The Portrait Masters Conference is the brainchild of George Varanakis and Craig Swanson, two industry veterans with very different views of large conferences and continuing education. Varanakis, a former VP of the largest conferences in the photo industry, and Swanson, co-founder of CreativeLive which rewrote the rule book for live, online education, merged to create a new platform for traditional industry conferences. While both come from solid backgrounds in photography, which was the impetus for The Portrait Masters Conference, their combined expertise can be applied to virtually any industry that hosts live in-person conferences and trade shows.
In addition to live learning, internet viewers saw live demos of the most innovative imaging products from participating manufacturers at the Conference’s Technology Expo. The conference was open to only 400 onsite participants and sold out in 24 hours, an unprecedented achievement in this industry.