BPcon2021: Behind the scenes
Welcome friend, you have just entered the most epic conference photo blog on the whole interwebz.
The BiggerPockets conference 2021 was a resounding and undeniable success. If you didn't attend then I'm about to show you exactly how much you should regret your choice not to go, and if you did attend I'm going to remind you just how lucky you were to have been at such a magical experience.
BiggerPockets is an online community of real estate investors.
I have been a BP member since 2013 and I am a super fan, to say the least. Most people at the event probably assumed I was just a photographer working an event, which is a totally fair assumption to make given that I had two big cameras on me at all times, but I am in fact a real estate investor as well (If you want to know my real estate journey, you can check me out here). BP taught me how to buy real estate, probably 90% of my real-life friends has come from this community, I was lucky to be a guest on their very famous podcast (episode #301), I have written for their blog, made videos for their YouTube, and this year I had the absolute privilege of capturing this event with my camera.
Camera stuff This is a photography blog so I can share camera nerd stuff, right? I shot this even with two cameras, one is a Canon EOS R with a 70-200 lens and the other is a Canon EOS R5 with a 15-35mm lens. This combination of a long telephoto lens and the ultra-wide-angle lens is perhaps as extreme of a set of lenses a photographer could take, this is a representation of my personality: all extremes and nothing in the middle. Conference photography is known for flat images that reek of soulless corporate sterility, it would be common to bring a pair of flat focal lengths (~35-50mm, gross) that will produce a very safe and reliable set of images, but I am definitely not here to shoot safe and reliable, I'm trying to create something EPIC. Something neat I tried was attaching my cameras to each side of my hips with Peak Design capture clips and that worked out far better than I had ever expected. I find it to be a much more elegant solution (and cheaper) than the spider holster system. The drone photography was done with a Mavic pro 2
I arrived on a Thursday morning at the Sheraton New Orleans and promptly threw my drone up to take my establishing shot. This made for a pretty good start to the week.
Before I show you the conference, I want to stop and express my utmost and sincere gratitude for this person.
Alexandra contacted me and asked me to shoot this event all the way back in February of 2020 and then despite all the frustrations from Covid and me being as annoying as I am, she stuck with me for 18 months. This conference was easily the best one I have ever been to, and she deserves so much credit for putting it on, the production quality was extremely high, and everything mostly came together in spectacular fashion. On top of that, she seemed to be in a relatively chill mood throughout the week and was even able to take some time to enjoy herself. To put this big event on and be so relaxed about it just solidifies how superhuman she is in my eyes, and she probably doesn't even notice that it's impressive. Scott is definitely not paying her enough.
Big, big thanks to Alex for her hard work. I think this event was an overall big level up moment for BiggerPockets and they did it on the back of her shoulders.
Ok, back to me:
Bro, look how cool I am.
I'm still pretty new to video so I'm definitely better at photography (though improving rapidly) but it's also surprisingly difficult to switch between taking photos and taking video. From a hardware perspective, it's not difficult but they require vastly different mindsets and which makes bouncing between the two a treacherous endeavor. I have mainly focused on photos this trip and despite the aforementioned hurdle, I tried to do both anyway and just accepted that the video wouldn't come out as good. It's just good to always be stretching talents our talents to the max.
I had never been to New Orleans and I got to the conference quite a bit early, so the first thing did was explore a bit. Being on the corner of Canal and Bourbon street was interesting, it's a place I had heard about for years but never thought I would be here.
Welcome to BiggerPockets conference 2021!
The first person I ran into was Kyle from Rentals to Wealth, he and his wife Lauren produce really great content for BP and they super wish they could be as good at it as me, but they cannot. His hair is pretty amazing though.
The hotel was a perfect fit for this crowd, it was small enough to crunch people together to create organic networking opportunities but spread out enough that it never felt claustrophobic, the bar was huge and well-staffed which was fortunate because we put them to the test.
I quickly ran into some more friends. Cole Simpson, a friend of mine and a realtor who lives in Charlotte NC. Joe Prillaman, who was recently on the cover of BP's wealth magazine, Shelby Osborne, my closest friend and the leader of Five Pillars realty. Darren Sager, an OG BiggerPockets member who I was happy to meet in person for the first time. Russell Brazil, a good friend of mine with whom I've made some BP content, stayed at this house a few times to explore D.C., and we trade an ample amount of shit talk online together. Craig Curelop, cohost of the FI show podcast, and his girlfriend. Matt Deboth who I met for the first time in real life, Matt and I are in a military and veterans mastermind together called "The War Room", and Megan Greathouse, another veteran who owns a sign company and is also into real estate, she's also way more awesome than I expected.
The room was FULL, the atmosphere and atttiude could not have been better, and we are ready to start!
When I got this gig they said to me "the person we hired last year didn't get any good shots of the keynote speaker. So I nailed this bad boy opening morning and knew it was a great shot at which point I immediately proceeded to relax while basking in the glory of my talents for the rest of the trip. Photography is so easy!
I met Nate Robbins for the first time while he was giving the crowd the clap.
If you don't know Shelby Osborne you must not know nothing about knowing things. I don't know what I would call this pose she's making, I've never seen her do it before. She is VERY nervous in this picture which is a rare and hilarious thing to see because she's generally known for being stone-cold fearless. Watching her sweat was a delightful little treat.
She's just about to meet Hal Elrod, of whom she is a very big fan, and she was a bit star-struck.
Pictures like this are basically what give me joy in photography. Hal and Shelby got to meet and had a quick little interaction, for them it came and passed in a blink, but I got the shot. It's high res, it's a good composition, it's a super authentic life moment, and now I get to give that to her and she will have it forever. For me, this might be the highlight of the event.
More friends, Drake was there too.
When I shot BPcon19 I got a few pictures of a mostly drunk Alexandra during an after-hour staff party and she has completely refused to accept how awesome they are. It's been an ongoing point of conflict between us for the last 18 months and I was determined to impress her this year.
It's extremely difficult not to impress with a rainbow sequin jacket, so I win.
I met the fabulous Leeka for the first time this weekend and we made fast friends (obviously, we made friends I'm endlessly charming). She tried to tell me she wasn't photogenic but clearly that was a lie.
People are constantly stopping me to ask"Alex, you're here taking pictures of everyone else, but who is taking pictures of you?". This is a hard problem to solve because I'm just like you, I don't want to see myself in lousy cell phone pictures, so until I get a professional photographer friend, I'm screwed.
Today, however, you are in a moment of rare luck because here is exactly what everyone has been asking for: someone taking a picture of me.
Here is Carol Scott and Katie Miller just being casually awesome
J martin is my spirit animal
My good buddy Matt Faircloth was oozing confidence while teaching the next set of investors how to find their path to success.
The legendary J Scott and one his sons.
QUICK QUESTION, ARE THESE PICTURES MAKING YOU FEEL FOMO ABOUT HAVING NOT ATTENDED? If so, then GOOD!
We are Life and Lens and our job is to create FOMO
I grabbed this great shot of David Green and Brandon Turner on the big stage. If you look really closely you'll notice I missed the focus point which for me ruins the photo, but people reading this probably have really low photo standards so no one will notice unless I point it out.
I hang out with a lot of ambitious entrepreneurs and a very high percentage of them are egomaniacs. I used to think Brandon wasn't as bad as many in this area but then I took this picture clearly displaying how highly he thinks of himself.
Think I was joking about that egomaniac thing? He had a life-sized cutout of himself made and gave it to the crowd. "You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain."
Some people were doing the limbo in the middle of the event for no reason and without a pole to limbo under. Obviously, this is the kind of high quality content I needed to put on my blog
This is a picture of J Martin and me comparing our mohawks, a complete waste of time and it only serves to embarrass him as obviously, mine is better. He's such an idiot.
Another congrats to Brian Burke and the team at A Hero's Home who hosted a charity auction that they had hoped to raise $25,000 so they could give a house to a homeless veteran, instead they raised $127,000 in 30 minutes.
The BiggerPockets team ended the event by exceeding all reasonable and high bar expectations. The police blocked off Canal and Bourbon streets and 1000 real estate nerds and a marching band walked down to the bar. It was FLAT OUT EPIC and even though I was specifically there to capture it I don't think my pictures do it justice.
Camera stuff Want better photos, you won't find them looking in regular places, take some time to search for a unique perspective. I turned around from the group and faced into the crowd, stood on my tippy tiptoes, and caught this really nice shot of us on bourbon street at sunset. Sometimes you just gotta look around a bit.
Veterans share a permanent and distinct sort of weird
These are my friends! side note, I LOVE taking pictures of people taking selfies. I feel like it's such a neat way to capture an authentic photo. I never pass up that chance, in fact, I leap at every opportunity.
Now check out these narcissists
Over the years as I've done this more the camera has provided me with a very unique perspective on human confidence. Some people try to hide from the camera when they see it, some people smile and become animated, some people want me to follow them around the whole day and just take their picture, some people act goofy as a defense mechanism, and all sorts of other interesting behaviors. My job is to take them from wherever they are and convince them to trust me just a little bit because once they trust me and put in a little effort, I can make anyone look magical. Once I do get a good picture of someone and show it to them I get this to see their eyes light up for a quick second. So at every conference, I pull some people aside and try to do a little mini shoot, they become a blend of candids and portraits. Everyone likes to see themselves in their best light....which is how I know that deep down inside everyone has a side of them who is a disgusting narcissist. The following pictures are of people who are exceedingly guilty.
Caught this photogenic little area and the light was perfect.