How we're making SNAP 2018 even more inclusive

All images are from members of our SNAP or SNAP Meet Ups community.  We share loads more of their awesome work over on our Instagram so swing by for a look. 

This year marked SNAP year 3 and feedback from a small number of our new attendees was that they found last year's event a little overwhelming.  We did a lot this year to help ease people into the event gently, for example:

  • We had a talk on the first night that also doubled up as a 'networking for introverts' session, so people got to meet some new people straight away.  
  • We built more free time into the programme, so things wouldn't feel so full on.
  • We had a guest liaison person to pick up issues around accommodation and get them resolved with the venue
  • We had a group activity in the middle of the week where people were put into random teams, so they got to make new friends

Inclusivity is something I think about a lot.  Not only from a diversity perspective but from a 'I'm a bit socially anxious myself' perspective and I've definetly been to events and conferences where my introvert brain wanted to shut down because I felt massively over stimulated or where, frankly, people weren't that friendly.   

The diversity perspective is also hugely important to me personally.  I've talked about it a lot before but I used to work in the public sector and delivering services that met the needs of diverse communities was part of my brief.   One thing I've wanted to carry over from that is having clear policies around the environment our attendees can expect to experience, both on line and at any events we run.  

That's why we have a set of community standards that sets out how we expect people to behave and interact with each other.  Basically we expect our community to be nice and respectful and we attract people who share our values.   

We also have a Learning Manifesto which sets out our approach to delivering educational content.  Anyone who delivers a talk at SNAP has to define learning outcomes, so you know exactly what you can expect to take away.

While we're on the topic of content curation, we deliver talks across a range of topics (1/3 of our content is nothing to do with wedding photography at all and is designed to inspire you) and our speakers are from a range of diverse backgrounds, with at least 50% of our speakers being female.  We're definetly not quota filling here - all of our speakers are selected on their amazing merits as educators, business people and photographers.  

Even with all of the above measures though SNAP can be an overwhelming experience at times.  Not even in a bad way but if you're not expecting to feel overwhelmed it can take you by surprise.  I feel overwhelmed sometimes and I organise the thing....  We've had 120 people on site for the last two events and if you're shy, introverted or even just totally unsure what to expect there may be points during the week where you feel a little overloaded.

So here's what we're doing to help

  • Arranging lots of smaller, more intimate meet ups via our SNAP Meet Ups group.  We're off to the beach soon and then Alton Towers later in the year.  I expect there'll be a few pub trips too.  Come and get to know some of the community.  Anyone is welcome, whether you've been to SNAP before or not. 
  • Making SNAP 2018 a bit smaller.  There'll only be around 75 people instead of 120. 
  • Welcome drinks for new attendees so they can get to know each other
  • A welfare officer and buddy system.  All new attendees will be assigned a buddy and previous attendees can have a buddy assigned optionally if they want to.  
  • Allocating accommodation so that new people are always paired with a mixture of new people and people who've attended before
  • Designated quiet / chill out areas for people who want to hang out in a low key, relaxed environment
  • One meal per day where you sit with someone new and a "I'm feeling shy and would love company" table
  • Totally free evenings to encourage more mingling and less feeling like a zombie the next day because you stayed up all night chatting after a late workshop finish
  • Content trigger warnings so everyone is clear about potential triggers in presentations
  • Designated sober people at our closing party, to ensure everyone has fun and to pick up on any issues 

There's a lot of time between now and SNAP 2018 but we wanted to share this now, while we're actively taking applications for new SNAPsters.  And on that note we've had feedback via some of our existing community members that having to "apply" to join us next year feels a little cliquey and exclusive. 

We get that it might feel a little like that.  Honestly, we kind of wanted some checks and balances in place to make sure the SNAP group, as it gets bigger, doesn't lose any of the core components that make it such a safe, supportive and positive space.  

As we have said on the application form though, we are NOT about popularity contests and absolutely anyone is welcome at SNAP, as long as you agree to our community standards.  

If you are on the fence about applying to join us, please rest assured that we definetly want you to be a part of SNAP!  We promise.

Anyone who knows me knows I am totally open to any feedback about how I can make SNAP even more of an amazing experience.  And it is ALL about the experience.  As I have said over and over, SNAP is more than the sum of its parts.  Check out feedback from previous years to hear more about their experiences and if you have any suggestions about how we can make even SNAP better, please do get in touch.