Last week, I was in Las Vegas for Wedding & Portrait Photography Conference and Expo. I wanted to write a little recap to share some of the highlights from this years conference and to document what I want to do differently next year. Expo The first two days of the expo, I walked in and out very quickly. It was way too crowded. I finally spent a couple of hours at the expo on the third day. There were half the number of people AND there were some great deals, as some companies were trying to clear out their remaining stock. I was able to pick up pocket wizards that were used as demos during workshops for about 20% less then retail. A pocket wizard is a remote trigger for flashes, not what some of my non-photographer friends thought it was. Some of my favorite booths: - Miller's definitely won the award for prettiest display. - Photobooth Supply Co for offering a photo booth package. I have had a lot of clients ask if I offered photo booths, so I may be giving these guys a call in the near future. - Red Tree for being the best album company ever! - Cypress albums has been an album and other high-end product company I have always wanted to check out in person and their selection of products was great. I was loving their presentation boxes. - Artifact Uprising is a new album company that offers albums that have 100% recycled pages. I would love to offer these for engagement sessions and would love to print some of my own, personal images using this company. - Kelly Moore was selling their fun new Songbird bag. - Fujifilm was showing off their new X100S, which will be making an appearance on my Pinterest wish list.
Hotel I used my AMEX points to get my own room at The Signature Towers. The Signature Towers were quiet and SMOKE free. The tower I stayed in was the closest hotel to the conference center. The rooms were nice, beds were comfortable and there was a mini kitchen so that I could get some grocery's and eat some of my meals in my room. The first night I arrived, I ordered groceries from Von's and had them delivered to my door the next day. A few tips for next year: - I definitely ordered way too much food from Von's, so next year I plan to order only what I KNOW I will eat. Don't skimp on those granola bars though, because you will need them! - Bring a portable humidifier. The air is extremely dry and smoking is allowed in the casinos. These two did not mix well with my little lungs. I was stuck with a dry cough all week. - I feel like I say this EVERY time I travel, but this is especially true when going to a photography expo. DON'T overpack. My bag was already overweigh and after purchasing a few things, it was REALLY overweight. - Bring cash. Since I live near NYC, I never have a problem paying with my Credit Card or finding my bank's ATM. I didn't see one non-casino owned ATM while I was in Vegas, so I had to pay the ridiculous casino ATM fees. - If you want to set up a shoot with friends at the MGM or Signature you may need to get approval from public affairs. Two nights before a friend and I were scheduled to shoot free headshots for 2 hours on Tuesday, I went outside to shoot with my friends and was kindly asked to find an off site location. This may sound a little crazy, but professional cameras are technically not allowed to be used on site. While it sounds a tad strange, especially for a photography convention, I reached out to public affairs and they were more than ok letting us use a courtyard for our shoot.
Classes I wish my lungs would have allowed me to go to more of my pre-registered classes, but mornings were especially tough on my cough and new 'man' voice. The classes I did go to were FULL of information and inspiration. A few tips for next year: - Go to a class you wouldn't normally go to. Whether it be a photographer you have never heard of or in an area of photography you do not specialize in. - The good news is (well some may say its bad news) that next year's convention happens BEFORE the pools are open. The reason I say this is good news is because it is one less distraction :)
Special Events If it wasn't for my annoying dry cough or jet lag, I would have gone to more of the special events. Every single person should go to the award show. It was the single most inspirational, motivational and moving event that I went to. Plain and simple. AND don't forget a box of tissues. The images and albums that won awards... jaw dropping. I would love to submit some of my own images into the competition next year. Tuesday night was the night with the biggest events, including a WPPI hosted, all-white pool party, photographers ignite, a newbie soiree hosted by the fabulous Justin & Mary, a Bay Photo party and the awesome Lazers and Blazers. For next year: - Get plenty of sleep on Monday night, as Tuesday is crazy busy and you do not want to miss out on all of the action. - I suggest staying until Thursday so that you can spend Wednesday relaxing those sore dancing feet, visiting the final day of the expo and attending the award show. - Buy tickets to Lazers and Blazers in advance and be sure you get there before 11:30pm, as they lock doors after that point. Bring cash for a cab and drinks! Your bartenders will thank you. I would know because I used to be one :) You do not find out where the party is until the day of and it is more than likely outside of a comfortable walking distance (at least in heels).
Other There were a ton of informal gatherings that I saw on Facebook. Again, if I wasn't in bed by 9pm the first few nights I was there, I would have definitely gone out to meet other photographers. I am one that prefers dinner over a big networking event, as I get a little overwhelmed at events with a lot of people I have never met before. I also get super nervous with putting myself out there, especially when meeting other photographers that I look up to. Hello social awkwardness. I prefer going out to dinner for a much more intimate setting where I can chat with smaller groups of people about all things life and business. Oh, and I LOVE food. What I would do differently next year: - Setup a dinner with a few photographers that I have never met before. - Have a friends night in with close friends. The first night I got in, I went out to dinner with my dear friend Angela. We shared many laughs and tears while talking about all things life, photography and business. If I went to Vegas to only have that meet up, I would have came home just as inspired and moved. - Attend a workshop! - Do another headshot session! I will be sharing more info about these sessions soon :)
If you have any questions/comments about WPPI, I would love to hear from you!