Paying it Forward: Eric Foley

So were do I begin? My Inspire journey started when I was selected to be a speaker at the 2011 Inspire retreat. It was held at the Colonial Inn in Concord, which was the perfect setting to create a relaxing atmosphere. This was my first go around speaking on the conference circuit so I was really nervous. This was also my first experience with the planning team and it was nothing short amazing. From the get go I was treated with love, respect and professionalism. The sense of family and community was overwhelming. Seriously, it was like something I've never experienced in this industry before. I immediately became addicted to the culture that had been created with Inspire, and I was hooked. As the retreat went on, I realized that everyone involved had the same feeling. The energy was contagious and the feel good vibes only intensified. This made the perfect atmosphere for learning, networking and just down right fun. Jumping ahead, once Inspire 2011 passed I was left with a huge feeling of void. There was an empty space in my brain and stomach where Inspire had lit a new fire inside me. This is something I've never experienced in any conference I have ever attended, both local and far away. This void left me hungry for more. This void turned me into a progressive minded, proactive machine. This void made me appreciate what I had just experienced.

On to 2012! To say I was excited for the speaker proposal call to go live would be an understatement. I just new I had to be a part of this amazing event and opportunity again. Even if I didn't get accepted as a speaker, I was ready to buy a ticket. Then it came, the email that is. When I got the acceptance email from the planning team I think I started doing the running man right in my studio. Inspire 2012 had implemented a few changes. Inspire had been moved to the Sturbridge Host. Again, the perfect setting for the progression of this retreat. I was pumped beyond belief and ready to go. Since this was my second go around, I was now able to set an agenda for the retreat. I didn't really know what to expect on my first go-round but this time was different. Inspire had created such an easy platform to meet and network with new friends, so I wanted to take advantage. I set out to meet or talk to everyone in attendance, it was my goal. I wanted to help and share my knowledge with anyone who was willing to listen. I was ready to get out of my comfort zone. Like so many other talented photographers before me that made a difference in my life and business, it was now time for me to pay it forward. I didn't think it was possible, but Inspire 2012 surpassed my expectations and blew me away. I made so many new friends, met so many new vendors and learned allot about my self and my business. I now felt that I was part of the Inspire brand.

Hello 2013 :) Riding the wave of progressive and proactive business, I was on a mission. I had heard whispers that there may be an opening on the Inspire Planning Team so I immediately started planting the seed. I was all over this like cherry dip on a vanilla cone. I wanted to be a part of this amazing team and event. So when I got the call, again, I started doing the running man. This time I even threw in a few back spins and a moon walk. It was a one time thing so don't ask me to do it again. My desire to be involved in the planning process comes from a long line of photographer friends and mentors that have helped me. Years ago I had a life changing event, I saw Kevin Kubota speak at the CTPPA conference. I was young and new in the photography business and to put it bluntly, Kubota's presentation blew me away! Kevin's seminar had planted the seed that had been hibernating within me until I had this opportunity. I now knew exactly why I had to do this, why I had to be a part of Inspire. I wanted to pay forward everything I had been given to this point in my career. The advice, the knowledge, the friendships and the open arms that embraced me. I actually had dinner with Kevin last year and I got to tell him how he made a difference in my life as a business man and photographer. He was humbled and very grateful for my words of thanks. This is the attitude I always try to carry with me in my pocket in this industry. With so many personalities and personas out there, I am always reminded of the community and family Inspire has instilled within me.

We (our team) do this because we owe you, we owe the attendees, we owe the industry. Inspire 2013 was an amazing success and we as a team couldn't have asked for better. I continued my goals in 2012 of meeting everyone at the retreat. I shared so many hugs and smiles, it was amazing. There were so many tears shed, so many friendships made and so many good times. I actually didn't get to see too many speakers because I was so worried (along with our team) about making sure everything was going off just exactly perfect. When we think of the success of Inspire, I feel our planning team is all on the same page. We get fulfillment in seeing our attendees enjoy themselves and grow as photographers. Inspire is a living and breathing organism that feeds off the positive energy of the photographers that attend.

For me, it's an experience I never want to end and I hope you're all there with me in 2014 to share more good times.