Community and Learning: Bella Baby Photographers at ShutterFest

Community and storytelling are at the heart of everything we do at Bella Baby Photography. We believe in the value of a supportive, engaged community and are dedicated to fostering growth within our organization. That’s why we actively encourage all of our photographers and team members to take advantage of opportunities to engage with their peers and seize opportunities for continued learning within the Bella Baby community and beyond. Some of our photographers recently had the opportunity to attend ShutterFest, a hands-on photography conference. They met in St. Louis, MO to share three days of community, learning, and photography.

About ShutterFest

ShutterFest is an annual event held at the historic Union Station Hotel in downtown St. Louis. The conference hosts numerous classes by experts in the industry. From hands-on shooting classes and photo walks to lectures on editing and marketing, this conference offers three full days of community and learning opportunities. What sets ShutterFest apart from other photography conferences is the presence of models throughout the conference. In addition to lecture settings, ShutterFest has interactive classes where attendees can shoot with models and apply what they’ve learned. Attendees come from around the world to build their portfolios, explore new techniques, try new gear, and learn about industry trends from some of the best in the business.

Bella Baby at ShutterFest

This year’s conference took place April 2-4, 2024. After the conference, Peoria photographer, Katelyn Edwards shared this reflection: “I had never attended ShutterFest before, so I joined the Newbie Walking Tour on Monday afternoon to learn my way around. During the tour, a child saw our group of approximately 50 people and exclaimed, “Wow, that’s a big family!!” The event truly did feel like one huge family. Photographers shared tips, stories, and shoots without hesitation or judgment, regardless of experience level.”

Attendees set their event schedules from the class list, made available through the conference app. This year’s selections included posing, real estate photography, newborn posing demos, an introduction to off-camera flash, and so much more. From in-person sales to utilizing Instagram for business, the class lineup offered something for everyone. Our photographers chose classes to build their skills and explore their other photographic interests. They also attended other conference events like the ShutterFest Met Gala, which allowed attendees to socialize after conference hours.

  • Sal Cincotta of the ShutterFest team standing onstage behind a podium. The screen behind him displays the projected image of the ShutterFest year 10 logo.
  • Calli, Mollie, and Katelyn seated on a blue chair inside Union Station Hotel.
  • Katelyn holding a snake. Katelyn is standing in front of a green tile wall.
  • Left to right: Calli, Katelyn, and Mollie outside Union Station Hotel in St. Louis, MO.
  • Left to right: Mollie, Calli, and Katelyn in front of a window with a red curtain. The curtain in partially open, but the scene outside is not visible due to the amount of light from outside.

In addition to the Gala, our photographers enjoyed meals together. One of Des Moines photographer Calli Tuggle’s favorite ShutterFest memories was sharing a meal with other Bella Baby photographers. She said: “On Wednesday evening, we decided to order Chinese take out through DoorDash…. I pulled up the app on my phone and I was shocked to see that St. Louis had a Tsing Tsao restaurant too! Mollie and I were so excited! The three of us picked all our food, then I went to check out, and I realized I never changed my location IN the app. Of course Door Dash could not deliver me Chinese takeout from the Southside of Des Moines to Downtown St. Louis! We switched gears though and still got delicious crab rangoons.”

Mollie Logan, another of our Des Moines area photographers, spoke about her instant friendship with the other Bella Baby photographers. She stated, “The BB community does such a beautiful job of keeping everyone connected, that even though we just met, the friendship was already there.” Whether sharing a meal, exchanging what they learned in classes, or networking with other photographers, Bella Baby’s photographers agreed that ShutterFest was a blast.

Their Biggest Takeaways

After ShutterFest, we asked our photographers about some of their takeaways from the conference. Here’s what they shared:

  • -I took two classes that focused on posing combined with prompting to elevate lifestyle sessions. I explored how to direct families for a pose, and use prompts to get them to engage with each other. Asking parents to share a moment they felt proud of their child(ren), or encouraging everyone share their favorite family memory created beautiful moments, and natural smiles.
  • -Learning how to pivot when things don’t go as planned. Being forced to perform quickly under pressure while keeping a calm disposition was such an important learning opportunity.
  • -I came away from this conference feeling energized and ready to return to the hospital. I returned with new ideas and a renewed love of the amazing moments I get to capture every day.
  • -After reviewing one of my wrestling photos, Chris Grondes, a speaker and co-owner of Grondes Photography, told me that this image was one of the best he has seen. His professional opinion was just what I needed to get out of my imposter syndrome. Later that next week, I sold my first platinum [package].


As our photographers reflect on their experiences at ShutterFest, we are reminded of the impact of connection and education. We are proud to celebrate our photographers’ commitment to continued growth in photography and hope they will continue to strengthen the bonds built at ShutterFest. Here’s to all the possibilities that lie ahead and the friendships we will make along the way!