Last week I snuck away to Nashville for a few days to attend Imaging USA, a conference for photographers hosted by Professional Photographers of America. Read on for some highlights from the conference and my first trip to Nashville!

The conference was hosted at the Gaylord Opryland Mariott in Nashville, Tennessee. This resort has lots to explore! There were lots of restaurants and shops onsite, which made it great for attending a conference, we didn't really have to leave!

The hotel also features a huge, beautiful atrium with breathtaking waterfalls, koi ponds, and just about every plant you can imagine. Despite being completely enclosed, you really feel like you're outside here!

In one area, giant, colorful guitars and musical notes hung from the ceiling. I loved the Nashville touch these decor items added and told myself I'd have to come back later and find a way to create a unique photo of them. (Keep reading to see the outcome!)

Over the course of three days, attendees were able to sit in on lectures ranging in topics from lighting, posing, business, positive mindset advice, and genre-specific classes! For me, it's a good refresh at the start of the year to get focused and brush up on various areas of my skill set and business.

Additionally, the conference included a three-day trade show where visitors can chat with a range of vendors that provide everything from photography and lighting gear, to business software, and professionally printed products.

Because I believe printed heirlooms and keepsakes are such an important part of my client's experience with me, I love being able to see samples and get ideas for products I can offer! It's also a great opportunity for me to chat with my current vendors, learn what's new and exciting, and build relationships in the photographic industry.

Photographer Belinda Philleo stands beside her Merit image "Finishing Touches" at the International Photographic Competition Exhibit Imaging USA in Nashville, TN. 2023

Another very exciting highlight of the trip was seeing two of my images featured in the International Photographic Competition Exhibit! The two images shown earned Merit in the 2022 International Photographic Competition hosted by Professional Photographers of America. It was my first time entering and I'm honored to be included among so many incredible artists in the exhibit!

Photographer Belinda Philleo stands beside her Merit image "Anticipation" at the International Photographic Competition Exhibit Imaging USA in Nashville, TN. 2023

The image, "Finishing Touches" was also featured in the January 2023 issue of PPA's Professional Photographer Magazine, so that was an extra special surprise for this past month too!

One afternoon during the conference I tagged along on a photo walk where master photographer Scott Robert Lim showed demonstrated beautiful lighting tools from Stella Pro. The lovely model, Sidney Lynn, did an expert job of modeling for the group!

While at the conference I met a super sweet photographer couple, Ryan & Lexi, who were attending Imaging USA for the first time. As we chatted, I learned that they had just gotten engaged while there at the hotel. We decided to make time for a quick engagement session at the hotel so they'd have something to remember the occasion by. Finally, I got the chance to do something creative with the decorative guitars!

After the conference, we stayed one extra day so that we could do a little exploring. Since we only had one day, and it was raining and cold, we kept it simple. We took a bus tour of the city where the drivers take you around and point out cool features of Nashville and allow you to hop on and off the bus at 13 noteworthy locations. It was a fun little tour where we learned a lot of interesting facts about Nashville!

We stopped by the famous Tootsies on Broadway for lunch and a rooftop view of the city.

Next, we hopped off at Marathon Motor Works (a historic automobile factory turned indoor mall) to check out the shops.

We opted to stay on the bus and out of the rain, but there were lots of neat little stops, including the Musicians Hall of Fame and a replica of the Parthenon, that I'd love to come back and check out when we have more time to explore.

Knowing that I was heading to Nashville, I made sure to watch the Nashville episode of Somebody Feed Phil (If you like food, travel, and comedy you'll love this Netflix series!) to get ideas for fun places to eat while we were in town. When the show featured Chopper Tiki and their food truck partner, Maiz De La Vida, both were immediately put at the top of our "must-see" list!

Let me tell you, both the food and drinks were worth the wait! My phone photos hardly do it justice, but if you're ever in Nashville, you've gotta stop in for a bite and a tiki drink!

That's all from my trip to Nashville! I hope to one day go back and do a little more sightseeing! Have you been? If so, let me know in the comments what places you'd recommend I put on my "must-see" list for my next visit!

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