The Olympus Visionary Program and the Trip to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (In a Nutshell) by Tracie Jean Photo Studios Cincinnati Photographers
As many of you know, we’ve been out of town a few times over the last few weeks exploring an amazing opportunity with the Olympus brand. As all of you know, I’m very shy (NOT!) about the camera system that we have chosen to use and love In a strange and startlingly fantastic twist of fate, that self-same brand, Olympus, extended the warmest and deliciously enchanting chance at becoming a part of a revolutionary group of professionals.
We first met in NYC at PhotoPlus, where we were invited to attend the show to review the latest and greatest in gear and tech & geek along with album vendors, prop shops and the like. After paying a mere $80 (no, really!) to park 1 car for 1 day in a shady looking garage, we walked over to the Javits Center for the event. I admit that I was distracted and probably had a little crazy-eye going on knowing that directly following the show we were to have dinner with some of the members of the Olympus family.
The show closed and we walked down the streets of the Big Apple, this city of skyscrapers, scenery, interesting people, scary alleyways, absurd taxi drivers and faithful walkers, all the while still maintaining a certain intimacy and charm that you’d think would only exist a tiny town like Mayberry. With each step, tiny shards of my cheatin’ heart became its prisoner. It was my first time…and you know what they say about your first!
We showed up early at Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse and had a glass of wine and chatted. After a brief conversation with one of the current Visionaries at the bar, Victor Rodriguez, it was time to go in. We walked in nervously and found our seats around the table. From there, I can barely explain what happened! There was such a celebratory feeling in the room. A celebration of the brand, its new achievements and of a few of its most faithful fans (us!). There were a few other photogs present as well but, we’ll get into that later. The dinner was delicious and the structure of the evening was very light and open. And, just as quickly as it came, it left. We said our goodbyes and gave hugs all around (you all know I’m a hugger).
The drive home was buzzing with excitement and possibilities. Little did we know how very much would happen only 1 week later! After several contacts and conversations, Olympus formally invited me to become their newest (and only female) Visionary Trailblazer. My heart nearly jumped out of my chest! I was invited to Bethlehem, PA for the Visionary Summit to meet the other 10 Visionaries and Trailblazers. I had no idea how much this trip could/would change my life.
I was to fly out on Friday morning, arrive at the Sands Resort and stay through Tuesday for a weekend packed full of events and introductions. When I arrived Friday, I was picked up by a wonderful man named Jose. I don’t exactly know how to be chauffeured so I asked to sit in the front seat Jose obliged and laughed a little. We talked easily all the way to Bethlehem.
Getting checked in was a breeze and I found my room with ease, unpacked, freshened up and made my way down to the lobby. The Visionaries were gathering and you all know how very timid I am about meeting others. We all introduced ourselves to each other and the welcome that was felt was warm and open from every single soul. They drove us off around the corner to the InVision Art Festival where our work was displayed in the Olympus gallery and our huge banners were displayed on the gate around the building. The art in the festival was fascinating and unique and had me falling in love all over again and filling my heart with fiery passion to create and unearth what lies deep within me and bring it to life through my lens. Ahh! Inspiration!
We left the event and made our way to Frank Smith’s house which sat prettily in a beautifully picturesque neighborhood and the Autumn and the stars were perfect together as we arrived. Tasty hors d’oeuvres and wine all around. The light din of conversation buzzing about everything and anything. By now, there is comfort in the conversations and friendships that are being built between myself and the other Visionaries. Back to Sands we go for drinks and down time to bond even more.
All of our images on this trip were shot with the OMD – EM1!!!
Saturday we all met for breakfast just before making our way off to Jim Thorpe, PA. The cutest little town! The foliage was the tiniest bit past peak but as gorgeous as the day is long. We hopped aboard the train and were taken on a fantastic journey through the hills there. The views were stunning as was the color palette used to paint each leaf with the rustic and deep fall. Upon leaving the train we walked through town, shared lunch and found our way back to Bethlehem just in time for Slide Luck; Photographic Art contributions displayed in a wonderful presentation with music to coax even more emotion out of a heart with each image slide. The night flew by and we gathered after at the Sands for dinner & drinks.
Sunday morning we were up and at ‘em for breakfast early and ready to enjoy the lighting class that Victor Rodriguez was teaching. The class was awesome and we had so much fun!! We learned about butterfly lighting and outdoor lighting and our model was adorable We grabbed a quick lunch and ran off to Lehigh Valley Grand Prix for a team building session racing go-karts (this ultimately provided many nicknames, bruises and sore muscles for most of the Visionaries). I am sad to tell you that I did not win this race, but I did have a blast! We took off back to Sands for a lovely dinner at Emeril’s Table. Off to bed! Big day at Olympus Headquarters in the morning.
Arrival at the Olympus Headquarters!!! Yay! The building is fantastic and HUGE. Surrounded by beautiful trees and a small lake, it just fits so perfectly. There’s even an Olympus store inside. We all get settled into the conference room for presentations and prepare for our “What’s in the Bag” photo shoot. Of course, being new to the team meant that I had to be photographed by the photographers at headquarters :-/ If you know me, you know that’s just not cool! I stay behind the lens. I was so awkward and nervous…so, yes, I know exactly how you feel
I did live through it and returned to the conference room to another nervous moment of presenting in front of everyone…aaaahhhh! I lived through that too Lunch was amazing and we got to experience the cafe. I was so impressed with the organic and healthy options…yum! After lunch, we were gifted with a photo walk. So much fun! Back to Sands to get ready for dinner.
We packed into the cars again and went off to Edge for dinner with the executives and Visionaries. The food was second to none! We had amazing conversations and laughed the night away.
It’s our last morning together. I’m already feeling sad about leaving my new friends. We meet up in the Sands conference room to discuss development and other internal affairs. The meeting is over after just 3 hours and we are all preparing to go our separate ways across the country. Hugs all around and mad dash for the airport Off to see my beautiful family
Here’s a great place to check out the other Visionaries: