Here at Elena S Blair Education, we strongly believe in community over competition. Community has always been incredibly important to me. And now that I’m an educator, one of my biggest goals is to create a sense of community for those who’ve been a part of my education groups.
My community manager, Gabby, and I noticed that even though our online group of over 3,500 members is extremely active and supportive, we could do even MORE for our community members. And thus, the launch of LOCAL Connection Chapters!
What Are The Connection Chapters?
We now have 15 Connection Chapters around the world to provide an opportunity for you to join an in-person community with the same people who are in your online community. Plus, you’ll be able to join a smaller Facebook group that will be unique to your local Connection Chapter. Each Connection Chapter is led by a Connection Chapter Leader, who is someone with the kinds of skills and experience to facilitate and manage a smaller group of ESB members.
Each Connection Chapter is meant to serve an area within 1-2 hours of the listed location. So for example, even if you live in central Virginia, you could join the Washington D.C. Connection Chapter! It’s a bit of a commute, but for one meet-up every other month (for example) it could be worth the drive! Plus, there will be valuable information shared inside the smaller, Connection Chapter groups that could be useful to you.
The main goal of The Connection Chapters is to provide a minimum of two in-person meet-ups. The date, time, goal, and activity of each meet-up is up to the discretion of that Chapter Leader. These meet-ups could be editing at a coffee shop, evening group shootouts, headshot swaps, portfolio reviews, and more!
How do I join A Connection Chapter?
Joining a Connection Chapter is easy! All you have to do is find the one that you are within an hour or two of and request to join the Facebook group! Our Chapter Leaders will be monitoring the member requests with a few questions, the most important one being where you’re located.
What if I don’t live near a Connection Chapter?
Through a series of surveys and applications, we narrowed down our Connection Chapters to mostly be in major metropolitan areas, with a few ones serving small states. If you don’t see a Connection Chapter that’s near you, don’t worry! We open applications for Connection Chapter Leaders every six months, so if there’s enough interest in your area and a willing Chapter Leader, you could bring a Connection Chapter to you!
The Connection Chapters and Chapter Leaders
CA, Central - Rachel Zee
Hi! I'm Rachel of Rachel Zee Photography. I started my business in 2008 here on the Monterey Peninsula. After years of shooting all kinds of photography, including seven years of shooting large weddings, I decided to shift my focus to portraiture. I specialize in family portraits and enjoy capturing the true personality of my subjects in a fun and relaxed way. Through these new connection chapters, I'm excited to gather with and lead my local community of photographers as well as connect with like-minded photographers around the world!
CA, SoCal - Michelle Thompson
Hello from sunny San Diego! I’m Michelle of Love Michelle Photography (www.lovemichellephotography.com). I’m a wife, mom, nurse, and photographer. I discovered lifestyle photography and Elena’s classes two years ago, and I’ve since fallen so in love with the rush of creating beautiful photographs that surprise and delight families. That’s my why. I’m so thirsty to learn and grow and get myself to that next level, which is why I’m so excited to be a Connection Chapter Leader - learning from and networking with fellow photographers all over Southern California.
DC, Washington, D.C. - Elisse Lassiter
Hey There! Elisse Lassiter here - I’m a photographer, entrepreneur and mother of three based in Silver Spring, Maryland. I’ve had a camera in hand for as long as I can remember and began formally studying photography 20 years ago. After a decade-long career as a strategist and business development consultant, I quit the corporate grind and created Glimmer Images with the dream of sharing my passion with the world. I am a passionate supporter of fellow photographers and entrepreneurs, and believe we can all help each other grow and thrive as we pursue our passions. I believe 100% in community over competition, and know that the more we encourage and support one another, the more successful we will be. I am thrilled to lead the DC area chapter and look forward to connecting with, learning from, and lifting up my fellow Elena Blair fans in the local area.
PA, Philadelphia - Naomi Boyer
Hi, I'm Naomi Boyer and I'll be heading up the Philadelphia chapter. I've been dabbling in photography on and off for around 7 years but have become serious only in the last year, largely due to the support of some photographer friends I've known for years. I would not be where I am without them and I am truly looking forward to passing on the love to all the Elena tribe members in my area.
NY, New York City - Alisha Brooks
My name is Alisha Brooks, and I am a wife, schnoodle owner and Boy Mom of 2 currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. I moonlight as an HR manager during the work week and a photographer on the weekends (www.alishabphotography.com). I was always the mom with a camera taking pictures of everyone with a goal of having memories to remember. Then one day, I took a leap during the Holiday Season of 2018 and booked a studio to take holiday pictures of friends and families. Now it’s almost a year later and my side business is starting to flourish. I currently specialize in Family Lifestyle photography and help to create content for business owners and creatives alike. I am excited to be a Connection Leader because I’m motivated to build community amongst woman looking for guidance and support in such a creative and fulfilling industry. I am very much a people person and I love connecting and learning people’s stories, which is probably one of the main reasons I fell in love with photography to begin with.
www.alishabphotography.com | www.facebook.com/Alisha-B-Photography-309419979672607/ | www.instagram.com/alishab._photography/
WA, Seattle - Mary Vance
Hey, y’all! I’m Mary Vance - displaced southerner and professional hair monster living in the Seattle, Wa area. I am the chief executive everything over at Mary Vance Photography (www.maryvance.com) where I specialize in authentic and inclusive portraiture for high school seniors. I also love fine art school photography and creating senior films and brand videos for small business and non-profits. In my work with youth, I’ve seen just how necessary community is to thrive and grow. I want to always be the one who builds a bigger table rather than a taller fence. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lead our local chapter to build and support the ESB family and community.
GA, Atlanta - Sarah Morgan
Hi! I’m Sarah Morgan, a former hotel interior designer turned newborn and family photographer who strives to create, simple, classic portraits and family films. As a designer I loved to create spaces for people to experience. Now I focus on all the beautiful experiences of a young family's story. Through still photography and filmmaking I document clients "from bump to birthday", and everything in between. I am based out of Atlanta with my husband, 2 silly daughters and 1 fluffy Goldendoodle. I have a passion for education and supporting both local in person and online photography communities.
IL, Chicago - Erin Bentley
Hello! My name is Erin Bentley! I am a wife, mom to three children (ages 16, 15 and 10) and two nutty beagles! I live in Naperville ~ a suburb of Chicago. My sweet little suburb is pretty amazing despite its Midwest winters! I survive on Starbucks (lucky for me its less than a mile from my house lol) and I am proud to say most of those fabulous baristas have become more like family to me. I thrive on all things photography and it's been this way for as long as I can remember! Meeting new people and making new friends is just one of the reasons I am incredibly excited to be on this adventure! My hope is to help foster a group that encourages community over competition. I can't wait...come join me!!!!
MA, Boston - Lyndsay McNiff
Hi— I am Lyndsay of Lyndsay Hannah Photography! I live outside of Boston, Massachusetts with my husband and three boys 5 years and under. I started my business when my oldest was 15 months and am coming up on 5 years in business in 2020. I specialize in emotive family, newborn, and wedding photography as well as some small business branding work. When I am not photographing my clients or my kids, you’ll find me in yoga pants and bare feet, cooking or enjoying the outdoors. This past year, my business has grown in leaps and bounds and I attribute that largely to the community of local photographers that I have become a part of. Forging friendships that go beyond the computer screen and having face to face time with my colleagues and now friends has been instrumental in growing my business. Not only do we provide each other with referrals, but we encourage each other, provide a listening ear when needed, and are a second set of eyes when someone feels stuck. Becoming a chapter leader enables me to be the impetus to help other photographers establish their own in-person connections and friendships which I feel are vital to success in this industry.
MO, St. Louis - Laura Stansberry
I’m a photographer based out in Saint Louis, Missouri. I have loved photography my whole life. I remember taking photos as a kid and will never forget all the time in high school and college I spent in the darkroom. Somewhere along the line I convinced myself to be a "real" photographer you had to have the latest and most expensive equipment and be a "success" right out of the gate. So I shelved my love of photography and occasionally played around with my camera as a hobby. Or if family or friends asked me to take photos for them. Just a few short months ago, I came across a YouTube video of Elena and had a bright lightbulb moment. Something clicked and I thought "I can do this." I can actually do this thing I have always loved so much. So begins this journey.
I am thrilled and honored to be the Connection Chapter leader for the Saint Louis area. I'm so new in this journey as a professional photographer that I have no illusions about my skills. I have a lot to learn. I truly believe you learn the most by surrounding yourself with people who are better than you. People who will challenge you in ways you just cannot challenge yourself on your own. I am so excited to bring a collective of amazing photographers together and to facilitate opportunities for all of us to learn and grow together. I can't wait to meet you all!
https://www.laurastansberryphotography.com/ | www.instagram.com/laurastansberryphotography/ | www.facebook.com/laurastansberryphotography/
OH, Central - Christina Paolucci
Hi! I’m a photographer and documentary filmmaker based in Columbus, Ohio, launched Second Spring Media in 2018 to specialize in legacy family portraits and videos. It was after watching Elena’s Creative Live on how to pose for family portraits where I became a huge fan of her inspiration and aesthetic to photography. I am excited about being a Connection Chapter Leaders for central Ohio photographers where I can pass along that same enthusiasm and support. I enjoy teaching my photography skills to others while also learning from other experts in the field. I look forward to this collaboration extending from the Facebook group to a local meeting place. And I can offer my studio for a meet-up location.
https://christinapaolucci.com/ | www.instagram.com/cipaolucci/
OR, Portland - Rebecca Lueck
I'm a fun family photographer in Portland, Oregon and I utilize the power of play in my sessions to get everyone interacting and having a good time. I take lifestyle images full of family connection, games, and cuddles. I'm also a mom of two and an elementary school assistant so I pretty much hang out with kids all day long! I'm excited to be a Connection Chapter Leader because I love helping other photographers and I truly believe in constantly learning more and getting better. When I have a free moment, I'm always looking on Facebook photography groups to respond to posts, help out others, and learn more myself.
CT, Central - Lindsey Turner
Hi, I'm Lindsey Turner of Lindsey Victoria Photography. I photograph families and professionals in an intimate and honest way. I am based in Litchfield County, Connecticut and also serve clients in New York City. I'm excited to be the Connecticut Connection Chapter leader to bring other entrepreneurs together in person to support each other in whatever way you need. My superpower is connecting people and helping them thrive, so this is an ideal way for me to use those strengths. We're all better when we collaborate and get out from behind our screens. I can't wait to meet you!
TN, Nashville - Iris Hu
My name is Iris and I’m a photographer based out of Brentwood TN, serving Nashville and surrounding areas (always willing to travel). My style is the hybrid of lifestyle and documentary approach, to capture real and emotive moments that speak to the heart. I do family, newborn, and weddings. I'm a believer of community over competition, and would love to help with connecting local photographers and building a flourished environment for our business.
www.lightbyiris.com | www.instagram.com/lightbyiris/ | www.facebook.com/lightbyiris
ON, Toronto - Kristin Sinclair
Hi, I’m Kristin! I’ll be the Connection Leader for the Toronto area. I’m a mom of three littles which means I need a bucket-load of coffee to function and I love being outdoors. My passion for photography grew out of my love for my kids and I know how a photograph can capture a memory and a feeling. I’m just in the beginning stages of my photography journey, but I love the idea of empowering each other and creating a safe space where we can grow and create friendships. Looking forward to connecting with like minded, local photogs!
UK, London - Ania Chandra
Hi! I am Ania, I live in Reading area which is just about 30 min away from London. I am close to Oxford too :)
I am a free spirit, I love nature and I am a very open minded person. Recently I came to a conclusion that my aim in photography is to embrace women's body and show how amazing, strong and beautiful we are. It's important to me that women are independent, care for themselves and have their own passion. For that reason I would love to encourage them to find their passion in photography - whether only as hobby or as profession :) I realised with time that we should support each other and treat ourselves with respect and care. I want to help women to get where they would want to be with their photography!