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Insights & Thoughts

Banding Together, Charging Ahead | My Mystic Seminars Experience

By Anthony Thurston on January 15th 2015

I am almost at a loss for words regarding the experience that was Mystic Seminars 2015 in Portland. I really had no idea what to expect from this heading into the week (which actually began for me Saturday night), but now sitting at home, a few days removed from a great week and an epic closing party, I can say that it was an experience I will remember forever.

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I was able to learn from amazing and talented speakers like Dan O’Day, Gabe McClintock, Susan Stripling, Sam Hurd, and the rest of the impressive 2015 speaking cast. But what makes Mystic so different and sets it apart from just a workshop or large event like WPPI or even PhotoPlus, is the amazing community that is felt by attendees.

Banding Together, Charging Ahead

Mystic’s tagline is ‘Banding Together, Charging Ahead’, and you really get that vibe throughout the entire 3 day experience. I just loved the entire atmosphere, and was especially surprised with the attitude the instructors took with the seminar.

I have attended many workshops and class type events over the years, and many times it seems like the instructor is barely invested in being there. They fly in the day of their workshop and then fly out hours after it is over. There is no interaction and no feeling.

Mystic is exactly the opposite of that. Most of the instructors actually attended the other classes, interacted with (and genuinely cared) about the attendees that they chatted with between classes. It really felt like they were invested in the experience, and that really set Mystic a part for me from other larger events where you can go to learn things.

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Sam Hurd Rocking His Class On Prism‘s and Freelensing With The Nikon D750

A Schedule Perfect For A Hungry Learner

I just love how Mystic is scheduled out. You don’t have to pick Sam Hurd over Dan O’Day, or Susan Stripling over Gabe McClintock. If you want to attend every class, you can, or if you prefer to skip one or two for some local sightseeing, you can!

Each class is about an hour, some run 90 minutes, and after each class is a nice and long 30 minute break to stretch, chat with attendees, and take advantage of the provided refreshments next to the trade show. Then, just when you start thinking you are ready for more, the next class is ready to begin – the timing was really spectacular. You get a full 1.5 hours for lunch and dinner, giving you time to go explore the city and enjoy the wonderful food selection.

Portland is known as a foodie destination, and the catered lunches at the Benson Hotel did not disappoint. From the amazing salmon on day one through to the Asian themed last day, it was way more than I was expecting, and it helped take the experience over the top for me.

Dave Brosha Having A Blast At The Bowling Night With Attendees

Dave Brosha Having A Blast At The Bowling Night With Attendees

Inspiration Beyond Words

I just want to really thank Walter Van Dusen, the guy behind Mystic, for giving me the opportunity to come and experience everything at Mystic. Let me tell you guys, Walter is really just an awesome guy, and boy does he know how to throw a closing party!

I left Mystic feeling inspired beyond the words that I can put into this piece. I truly feel like charging ahead into 2015 with my shutter blazing, ready to shoot for me, and take my photography to new heights. I met some wonderful people (shout out to BrandiRana, and Joel) who I hope to keep in touch with in the future. I sit here now, in my cozy, regular life equally sad that it is all over and inspired to go out and shoot.

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I was very happy to see that Mystic will be returning to Portland for 2016. I am definitely coming back. I hope to see all my new friends – and any of you reading this who want to come too – next year as well. It is officially on my calendar, what are you waiting for?

It was announced at the closing of the show that Two Mann Studios will be one of the major speakers at Mystic 2016, so it should be a real blast! I really hope to see some of you there!

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Mark C

    Damn I didn’t even know you were there Anthony! (I thought I’d talked to just about everyone at the conference…)

    I’m about to post my review on Mystic over at http://shotkit.com and your views mirror my own – what a great few days. Can’t wait for next year!

    Cheers, Mark

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  2. Joel Conner

    Great write up…could not agree more!

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  3. Joshua Grasso

    If Two Mann is there I’m definitely in. Love their work. Wanted to go this year but couldn’t go. can’t wait!

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  4. Kishore Sawh

    AS a destination event, this looks like something I’ll be looking to pen into my calendar.

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  5. Matthew Saville

    I really love seeing how the small local GTGs that we used to have in previous years (when digital photography was just blooming) have evolved into these fantastic, larger scale events. They’re always a great opportunity to learn, meet new friends, and get inspired. Glad you could make it!

    =Matt=

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Yeah Matt, it really was probably one of the best events I have ever attended. So highly recommend it!

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