Highlights from Imaging USA Attendees

Published: February 16, 2024

Photographers far and wide traveled to Louisville, Kentucky this year for Imaging USA, January 25 - 30, to make memories and fuel their year with inspiration. Every photographer arrives with their unique interests and passions, and make the conference experience their own. Some parts are universal and we enjoyed learning more about what attendees enjoyed the most. Here are some of their stories: 

For Tim Donar, M.Photog., CPP, this show wasn’t his first rodeo. Nearly every year he’s been a PPA member, Donar has made the trek from Arizona to many different locations. For him, the educational sessions give his business a boost and helps feed his growing interest in the photography niches outside of his bread and butter. Donar specializes in drone and commercial architecture photography while nurturing his growing love of wildlife photography and fine art print-making. Kevin Dooley’s pre-con class was among his favorites this year. Dooley shared the stories behind his favorite wildlife and tribal images and captivated the class with his rich storytelling. 

Christine Grosshans, M.Photog., CPP says her aha moment happened in Chris Duncan’s class when he shared how he uses black paint on umbrella modifiers to shape the light as he desires, “It was truly a game-changer.” Grosshans says she loves Imaging USA because of how easy it is to meet new people in the classes or in the in-between moments where everyone wanders around, planning their next move. She finds herself inspired by other photographers and often feels encouraged to share some of her wisdom with the new photographers she meets.

Marisa Balletti-Lavoie, M.Photog.M.Artist.Cr. strutted the stage Monday night to accept her master photography degree wearing her signature sparkly crown. Year after year, Balletti-Lavoie approaches the conference as her biggest opportunity to connect in person with the photographers she’s met through her online networking. “It’s my networking playground,” she says. Putting faces to names, listening to their stories, and taking portraits of friends on her Olympus mirrorless camera with a 50mm lens are some of her favorite activities at the conference. “When I’m amongst my peers, my time is best spent.”

Michelle VanTine, senior staff writer for Fstoppers says that this year’s conference was “full of incredible learning, insights, and a very holistic injection of enthusiasm.” VanTine marveled over the teachable moments in Lindsay Adler’s class, as a model was photographed with nothing more than a light and a spatula. VanTine has been a full-time photographer for 16 years and says, “The conference felt like an affirmation that I was doing everything right. The strides I’ve made in my career will keep snowballing as I continue to grow, learn, and implement my knowledge.” The International Photographic Competition also caught VanTine’s eye, particularly Gary Jones’ winning image, “The Destination Ahead.” VanTine says the portrait felt like a reminder that we can’t forget how we got here as humanity and we must recognize the people who displayed immense courage to create positive change.