Adventures in the Big Apple

Ooh my word. Last week was a life highlight, no joke. 2 weeks ago if you asked me "Lydia, are you going to New York City with two of your best friends, in the middle of the week to go to the world renown PhotoPlus conference + expo to meet almost ALL of your photography heroes?" I would have thought you were insane. Not only was it impossible for me spend that much money to travel and stay in NYC, but there was no way I could skip 3 days of school during midterm week!

God had other plans.

Everything fell into place. Bus tickets only cost $20, we were able to split hotel costs by sharing a room, and the expo was free! And as if that wasn't enough, my spanish professor allowed me to take my midterm early and the others gave me permission to leave early/skip the rest of my classes that week. This was a MIRACLE, I'm not even kidding.

And so, Wednesday afternoon Kristen, Natalie, and I left from a Washington, D.C bus stop to travel to New York City...

4 hours and 45 minutes and 1 bootlegged version of The Game Plan later we arrived at the Hotel New Yorker...or as Natalie so fondly called it our "ghetto fab" hotel. It was hilariously ridiculous. The door pretty much hit the bed when we opened it...and Sarah didn't have room to wheel her suitcase through the room. It was that small!! Speaking of which....

...I finally met everyone's favorite knee-slappin' sidekick and one of the sweetest, most generous, and so in love with her Savior girls ever: Sarah Barlow.

Kristen, Natalie, and I unashamedly adopted the title of "Sarah's posse" our entire stay in NYC. Sarah so generously shared her room with us, watched over us, and introduced us to all of the photography celebs. Honestly, without her inviting even Kristen to the conference none of this would have happened. So, Sarah, please accept my huge THANK YOU. I love and respect you so much!!

Our first morning in the city we discovered the loveliest, most incredibly nice cafe/restaurant named Lezzette. Kristen already wrote about the chef, but I just have to mention him because I think he is my favorite person in the whole city. He didn't want us to read the menu, instead he just wanted us to tell him what we were craving that morning and he would make it! He was the friendliest chef ever - we all loved him!

Thursday afternoon we walked to the Jacob K. Javits center where the conference was held.

Inside, the Expo (basically booths, tutorials, and demonstrations) was MASSIVE! The four of us definitely felt like little kids walking around Disney Land or something. So much to see we just didn't know where to begin!

And then came the part that until this past week was filed away into the "in your dreams" category. I met my photography heroes. A love for capturing the moment, my brother's Canon Rebel film camera, and Kristen's first emails forwarding me these photographer's sites/blogs are what inspired me to become a photographer. Without looking at their work and realizing it was actually possible to do something I loved so much as a profession, I would have never entered the business. And so I met:

Dane Sanders, an incredibly genuine and caring guy and brilliant photographer. He kept us all laughing!

Bob Davis, an incredible wedding photographer who's shot some pretty big weddings (including Eva Longoria's!)

the one and only [b]ecker
the kind, encouraging, and very generous David Jay

and the sweet and exceptionally talented Jessica Claire
Kristen and I happily bought out first ShootSac (designed by Jessica herself) at her booth and even Sarah picked up a new cover or two.

Soo, where was Natalie during all these pictures? Well, she took them all actually :D And she kept herself busy being awesome and helping inflate pink flamingos (the Shootsac trademark giveaway gift with every purchase).

We all pitched in to help a little and soon the pink flamingo was everywhere!

One of my highlights from the PhotoPlus conference was helping out a hardworking model at one of the booths in the Expo. If you've ever had to be on the picture-taking side of the camera after actually doing the picture-taking you know how awkward it can be. At least I know I feel this way, especially when I'm tired and would rather just stop smiling. Well, there was one model in particular who every time I walked by was in the same position, giving off the same great smile even if by the end of the 2nd day it was a bit forced. Plus, she was a red-head so I felt a connection. :) So the 4 of us had the idea to get her something special and so I bought her a Starbucks Caramel Frap. She was SO surprised and I was so happy to make her feel better!

Thursday night had to be one of the biggest highlights though. The 4 of us got dressed up, hailed a fancy limo cab, and had a mini-photoshoot in Times Square. It's something I've always wanted to do but never had the opportunity to! It was SO MUCH FUN.

Later that night we met up with all the photographers again and met a bunch of new people including this ever so lovely photographer, Me Ra Koh. I so respect her for her mission and love for her work! She was like a breath of fresh air to NYC and I was blown away by her joy and encouraging words to Kristen and I.

And then wham! it was over. I still can't believe I went. I just can't express how incredibly BLESSED I am. Lord, thank you so much for this opportunity. I don't know what will come out of it, but I trust you and I'm so thankful for the way you laid everything perfectly in place and enabled me to go. It was only because of you and I am overflowing with thanks!!!!

(my take on the photo.)