Taking on ShutterFest 2017 [Documentary and Milk Bath]

April 20, 2017  •  5 Comments

Over the last two days, I attended ShutterFest 2017 at Union Station and it was amazing!  For those of you who aren’t photographers, graphic designers, videographers or something of the like, I’ll explain a bit about what ShutterFest is.  ShutterFest is essentially a photography conference held over the course of 2 days.  It is touted as “the UN-Conference” simply because it isn’t your everyday conference filled with PowerPoints, suits and ties, or serious business.  It’s about having fun, enjoying yourself, networking, meeting and making new friends, practicing your photography and people skills, and absorbing everything you can over the course of two days.  “Shoot.  Learn.  Party.  That’s the mantra here.”  There’s so much more to it, but check out https://shutterfest.com!

St. Louis ShutterFest 2017 DocumentarySt. Louis Katie Gaeta Photography Union Station

This was my first year attending ShutterFest and while I had a ton of questions leading up to it, I was mostly excited to just put myself out there and learn as much as I could.  I put my focus into a lot of lecture courses regarding photography business, online presence, and building my brand.  We all have our weaknesses, so I figured it was about time to turn mine into strengths.  Education is everything.  Growth simply cannot happen if you’re not willing to put the effort in.  And I don't know about you, but I thrive on success!

St. Louis ShutterFest 2017 DocumentarySt. Louis Katie Gaeta Photography Union Station Hard Rock Cafe Landry's Seafood House

I was lucky enough to know quite a few local photographers with whom I have networked and met up with in the past.  The great part of ShutterFest, though, is that you are 100% encouraged to walk up to complete strangers and speak to them.  Beyond that, attendees are encouraged to interact with the speakers from the courses, to ask for feedback on portfolios, and to ask questions which I loved.  There is very much that attitude I love which is, "Community Over Competition."  Love it!!  Below are two of my favorite speakers: Eilleen and Phillip Blume of Blume Photography (who had this hormonal pregnant mama in tears before the end of their presentation!)

St. Louis ShutterFest 2017 DocumentarySt. Louis Katie Gaeta Photography Union Station Elaine Blume Phillip Blume Credentials

At ShutterFest, there are a ton of break out photo session opportunities.  You can rent a human — there are models who have signed up for ShutterFest whom you can reserve for a certain amount of time for a specific photo shoot.  People are encouraged to create their own sessions and that’s just what I did.  Since I’m 26 weeks pregnant right now, it was a great opportunity to be on the other side of the camera.  Prior to the event, I worked with another photographer, Laura King of Laura King Photography, to get a maternity Bodyscapes and Milk Bath Session set up.  I’ve really been wanting to do a milk bath session with a client, but have yet to get the opportunity, so we created one!  

St. Louis ShutterFest 2017 DocumentarySt. Louis Katie Gaeta Photography ShutterFest Breakout Milk Bath Session

It’s always eye-opening to be on the other side of the camera and such was the case when I volunteered for the Bodyscapes session.  It was all female photographers, some of whom specialize in maternity, birth, and newborn.  Bodyscapes is typically for fine art nude photography, but it is really an awesome concept to celebrate a woman’s changing body in pregnancy.  I figured if another model would be willing to be the Milk Bath model, then I could step out of my comfort zone and be the Bodyscapes “model”.  Was it a little intimidating?  Absolutely.  But it was also empowering and sometimes you just have to be vulnerable and put yourself out there.  The other photographers were fantastic, put me at ease, and even had me laughing.  It’s exactly what I always aim to provide my clients because that’s when I am able to get real life emotions captured.  

St. Louis ShutterFest 2017 Styled SessionSt. Louis Katie Gaeta Photography ShutterFest Breakout Milk Bath Session

St. Louis ShutterFest 2017 Styled SessionSt. Louis Katie Gaeta Photography ShutterFest Breakout Milk Bath Session St. Louis ShutterFest 2017 Styled SessionSt. Louis Katie Gaeta Photography ShutterFest Breakout Milk Bath Session

The Milk Bath session was wonderful and so awesome to watch the set up.  I learned tips, tricks, and techniques to set up and prepare for a session like this.  Milk Bath Sessions typically involve a pregnant or newly postpartum mama and/or their baby as well.  The purpose is to celebrate their body, their pregnancy, their beauty and their baby in a relaxing serene environment.  A tub is filled with water and then milk, coffee creamer, or powdered milk is added to give the water a very milky look to it.  Moms will typically wear either a lace maternity dress, a bra and underwear, or if they prefer, nothing at all and then they slip into this relaxing warm milk bath and are able to connect to their body and baby.  It’s so great, though, because due to the opaque color of the milk bath, various things can be covered that the Mom may not want showing.  Milk Bath Sessions will absolutely be something I offer from here on out, so if you're interested in setting one up, I am totally game for it!  Celebrate those bumps, those babies, and those feedings!

St. Louis ShutterFest 2017 Styled SessionSt. Louis Katie Gaeta Photography ShutterFest Breakout Milk Bath Session

St. Louis ShutterFest 2017 Styled SessionSt. Louis Katie Gaeta Photography ShutterFest Breakout Milk Bath Session

I spent a total of 28 hours at ShutterFest in two days time!  A majority of my time was spent in classes, some of it was spent networking, some spent speaking to the Speakers.  It was grueling, phenomenal, empowering, and eye opening.  I definitely want to go again next year, do some more learning, more shooting, and will challenge myself to get uncomfortable all over again!  I learned a ton and have so much to put in to my business.  My biggest challenge now is implementing these changes and making a plan!

St. Louis ShutterFest 2017 DocumentarySt. Louis Katie Gaeta Photography Union Station Grand Hall

St. Louis ShutterFest 2017 DocumentarySt. Louis Katie Gaeta Photography Union Station Main Corridor Vendor Hallway

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Comments

Annica Quakenbush(non-registered)
I am so in love with that herbal bath!! Oh my goodness, it's just serene and gorgeous. Wonderful work, Katie!
Norma(non-registered)
Beautiful images and what a wonderful experience that must have been!
Elise Hurst(non-registered)
These looks like so much fun! I bet you learned a ton! I love the milk bath session!
Lori Probst(non-registered)
Katie,
This is an excellent post. You so very succinctly wrapped up what one would see, feel and experience over the course of 2 days at Shutterfest, and you did it the day after the event was over! I loved all of your photographs and now wish I had taken the time to photograph the surroundings as you did! You did put yourself out there and did the uncomfortable. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to photograph your uncomfortable, vulnerable, yet amazingly beautiful baby bump body! I look forward to following you and your work, Katie!
Laura King(non-registered)
Katie it was great shooting with you at Shutterfest! You were a fantastic bodyscape model, and the photos you took are lovely as well. Great blog post.
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