I spent last week in LA attending LAFotoworks, and while LA and I normally aren't friends, it wasn't a bad trip. Fairly productive, actually.
LAFotoworks is, as you would imagine, NYCFotoworks' younger, more laid-back sister--the one with the better tan. It's still kinda like awkward speed dating (is there such a thing as non-awkward speed dating?), but it's great because it means guaranteed face-time with art buyers, editors, and artist reps who might not normally get to meet with you. The people who get to hire you. Face time with these people is good.
I was able to meet with a bunch of art reps, Playboy, C Publications, and Variety. For me, events like this can't be bad--you always leave better off than when you first showed up. I've heard mixed reviews of events like this, but I think that's due to unrealistic expectations. I've spoken to other photographers who leave angry and frustrated because they thought attending an event like this meant instant agency representation, or someone was going to immediately book them for a job, but that's such a ridiculous expectation. That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works! I mean, it's not impossible for that to happen, but it's so unlikely that you'd just be setting yourself up for disappointment. My approach is this: I get to show my work to a bunch of people I admire and respect. I let them get to know me (as well as possible in 15 minutes, anyway), I get feedback on what's working and what's not, and I walk away with a new professional contact and ideas on how to be a better photographer. How can you lose? Who wouldn't want that?
In the end, there were definitely some people with whom I connected better than others. Two art reps in particular are especially interested, so we'll see where that goes. One magazine in particular is trying something new, and I'd love to be a part of it, so I have my fingers crossed.
Aside from the food poisoning* (which seems to be an LA tradition for me at this point**), not a bad trip.
*Funny-ish story: I show up on the morning of Day 2 of the event, quite sick, sweating like a beast, and trying to at least make myself a little presentable. I'm in the ladies' room, trying to touch up my makeup, and I realize it looks like I'm wearing something vaguely pajama-like, and therefore maybe not the best (I'm wearing "fashionable" leggings, sneakers, a cami, and a vintage Billy Idol tee because it's the closest thing I brought with me that didn't put pressure on my stomach.) So, because women at these events usually stick together in temporary ovary-based camaraderie, I ask the lady at the next sink if I look ok. I explain what's going (verge of death), she seems mildly weirded out, but understands, and reassures me that I look ok, and probably no one will notice that I look like a cadaver (my words, not hers).
And then it turns out she's my second meeting that morning. Such is my life.