Stacey Owen, founder of Conference + Chill and Meet pepper, drinks coffee at a table.

Conference + Chill is one of the best things to come out of 2020, but what is it all about? We interviewed our very own fearless leader, Stacey Owen, to get into the nitty gritty of C+C: The Virtual Photo Gathering!

Let’s start this off with the biggest answer but smallest question: Can you sum up C+C in a sentence or two?

To put it simply, Conference + Chill is an online photography conference that anyone in the world can watch. There are speakers, panels, chill hangouts, and cocktails (obviously)! More than that, C+C is an intersection of photography genres. It is a place for everyone who even thinks of picking up a camera can come to learn, chill, and build relationships in this rad industry! You can hear from some of the most amazing photographers and creative entrepreneurs in the world, participate in chill hangouts, ask questions, and feel connected in a time when we’re all so isolated. And it’s all LIVE! Nothing is pre-recorded so you get to experience real engagement and all that awesome positive energy!

Alright, alright! Now—who is Conference + Chill created for?

Everyone. No, literally everyone. If you are just dipping your toes in the realm of photography or you’ve been shooting for 20+ years, we promise you’ll learn something and leave feeling inspired AF! Plus, we’re a pretty cool bunch of kids if you just want someone to hang out with—we’re down!

Do I have to be a mega accomplished photographer to get something out of C+C?!

Ummm…abso-fucking-lutely not!! Because you are going to hear from so many different photographers during one event, you are going to gather so many tips and tricks—not to mention inspiration—that you can apply to the most beginning stages of photography! And who knows? Maybe in a few years, you’ll be back as a speaker! 😉 

You’ll also meet so many other badasses and can exchange info, so you can connect outside of the conference (and hang in our private Facebook Group). I find I learn a ton, and feel even more fulfilled, by the friendships I’ve made at conferences.

Do I even have to be a photographer to get value from the conference?

In January, we do have the Business + Marketing event, which can definitely apply to all creative entrepreneurs. That said, the other events are geared towards specific photography genres, but all artists and creative entrepreneurs are welcome to come be inspired, so come and hang out!

Here’s a hard hitter—What would you say is the main goal of Conference + Chill?

At its core, it is a place to come and feel connected—to other people, to other genres of photography, and to ideas. 

More than that, it’s definitely a place for people to come and learn some practical how-tos and get inspired. 2020 was a real titty-punch to so many of us and we wanted to find a way to bring something positive out of such a difficult time. We just want to spread love, education, inspiration, and human connection. I like to call that a #fuckyeah.

Newly married couple hold a just popped champagne bottle as featured in Conference + Chill Film Photography

Let’s get back into the heart of C+C—why was Conference + Chill created?

2020 hit us hard. Being in an industry that was deeply affected by the pandemic, I didn’t want to see anybody lose everything they had worked so hard for—myself and our team included. So we pivoted (I know, we’re SO over that word too!) and we found a way to include a lot of incredible people. It gave photographers a place to talk about their stories, their successes, and their tips for helping other people succeed. It was also a place to bring people together when so many of us were feeling disconnected and possibly even falling victim to the mental health crisis that the pandemic has exacerbated. It was a place of hope, and straight up FUN! We all needed a little extra of that this year!

How do you feel C+C has grown since its origin?

C+C has gone from just an idea to a full blown every-other-month staple! The snowball effect has kind of blown our minds. We have had speakers from every corner of the world, attendees from everywhere, and insanely talented people reaching out to us to ask to be a part of it!! WTF!! What started as a Hail Mary has turned into such a pillar of hope in an uncertain time. I couldn’t feel more humbled or more proud of C+C and our #scrappyAF Pepper team that made it all happen. 

Can you tell us more about these chill hangs??

The chill hangs are fun, laidback, often include some alcohol, and just allow the attendees to jump in and talk with the hosts or the other attendees. We’ve had people get to meet their IG friends, swap contact info, share their coolest gear, and just shoot the shit. We have received such positive feedback about this aspect that you can definitely expect this to be a continued part of C+C. 

AND, what in the heck is Cocktails with Sayed?! Will this be a constant for C+C??

Sayed is one of our favorite people ever! He was sent to us from our hosts, Shari + Mike, and his energy is contagious! He mixes up C+C-inspired drinks each round and doesn’t disappoint. He gets into character completely and brings the fun! We have already made him pinky promise to join us come hell or highwater for every round! 

Mike of Shari + Mike, hosts of Conference + Chill, jumps on hay bales while Shari stands below

Back to the Attendee’s—what’s in it for them?! What do you get with your ticket price?

  • Education
  • Chill hangouts
  • Connection 
  • Chances at RAD giveaways/prizes
  • Swag bag goodies
  • All LIVE access, with a lifetime replay option
  • A chance to ask the rad speakers questions and interact with others
  • Access to our private community Facebook Group

Okay, and what is in these SWAG bags we keep seeing everywhere??

They’re different every month and can include gear, top of the line software, presets, and educational discounts—we promise you won’t be disappointed! Make a wish list, and we’ll see what we can do for ya! 😉

Could you explain the difference between the Live ticket and the Lifetime? What are the benefits of the Lifetime?

Live tickets are super affordable for those that just want to roll in on the day of and take it all in. The Lifetime tickets offer access to all of the presentation and panel replays for an unlimited amount of time. The Lifetime tickets are perfect for those who will miss part of the live event, or can’t make it live at all. They’re super chill.

If peeps want to join a C+C but are nervous about their first online conference, what would you tell them?

Guuuuys, it’s called Conference + CHILL on purpose! Just come and hang out! You will leave the event feeling inspired and definitely have some new tips in your back pocket. We won’t ever force you to turn on your camera, so you can absolutely watch from the privacy of your own home. Buuut, we may encourage you to turn on your cameras, because it feels way more like real-life hangs. And, if you’re feeling brave, you can ask a question LIVE during a presentation or join a chill hangout or cocktails and maybe even meet a new friend! 

If you’re really shy, you can buy a Lifetime ticket, you can watch the event at your leisure.

And how would you say Conference + Chill differs from your usual “business” conference?

Cocktails and swearing! I kid. Kinda. But it’s definitely not corporate nor stiff. It’s laidback, we roll with the punches, and yet we still fill the entire day with amazing material. And since we can’t be in person right now, we found a way to connect people from all over the world in one easy place. You can literally jump on screen and be chatting with someone who lives on a remote island, live from your living room! I mean, how often do we get to meet and learn from other photographers from the other side of the planet?!

A couple kiss in a field with a sky full of stars taken by Tinted Photography, speakers at Conference + Chill

As small business peeps we get the grind and importance of collaboration with rad, like-minded companies! What are some ways businesses can get involved with C+C and how would that benefit them?

Yes!! We are LOVING getting to know the incredible people behind some of the most kickass companies in the industry! They come and hang out with us during the events, along with the speakers and attendees. It’s seriously the best. 

If you’re a company that wants to get involved in this crazy and amazing worldwide photography community we’re building, hit us up! Conference + Chill is something bigger than just us. It’s something exciting and innovative for our industry, and it’s fucking awesome. Connect with our attendees or speakers and become friends with the other companies that are already a part of what we’re creating. You can be involved by sponsoring our speakers, the event in general, or even just helping us get the word out there! Big or small is cool with us, and either way you’d be a part of the C+C Fam and we’ll talk up all the cool shit you’re doing too. 

Let’s leave our readers with your fave quote, moment, or memory from a past C+C or speaker!

Oh man, that’s a hard one!! It’s between…

“If you don’t fold your lemons, I don’t want to know you” —Sayed Saber while making one of his custom C+C cocktails. He cracks me up!! 

And the most moving quote from the book Beautiful Economics by Howard Collinge about creativity that our co-host Shari shared with us at the end of our Film Isn’t Dead event…

“Creativity is the most precious commodity of all. It’s also the most deomcratic. It can never be owned by one person, corporation or country. It isn’t measured by how much money you have, what school you went to or how pretty you are. It is measured by whether your ideas enlighten or improve or inspire. Creativity is what makes us human. We are an ideas species. Creativity is our sixth sense. It can lead to sliced bread or a man on the moon. It can lead to peanut butter or apple computers. It can change your mind or change the world. The more we use it, the more we have. Creativity is play, but it is never lazy. It is the hard, gritty, slog of the imagination. Apply it to dentistry. Apply it to education. Apply it to life. Creativity can make the brain spin with possibility or the belly ache with laughter. It is the Jedi Force within us all. Use it for good. Let good ideas destroy bad ideas. Creativity can make our economy more human, more sustainable, more thoughtful, more useful, more social, more profitable, more lasting and ultimately, more beautiful.”

So yeah. What he said.

There ya’ll have it, the deepest of dives on our RADTASTICAL Conference + Chill.

If you LOVED the sound of the juicy details Stace gave us (um, we’d be a little weirded out if you didn’t?!), then get yo’ tickets! We’ve got an epic lineup of events, with Business and Marketing mere DAYS away, and Boudoir coming in hot (like, mega hot) next month! Hope to see your bright, beautiful faces there!