I’m back from my first photography convention. I’ll be honest- it was a bit intimidating first seeing over 6,000 wedding and portrait photographers in one place. I’ve seen extremely
discouraging inspiring work by some amazingly talented professionals. The WPPI convention in Vegas has to be the largest assembly of photographers in the world all coming together at the MGM Grand for just a few days. In addition to the masses and the classes, there were two grand ballrooms full of just about every type of photo vendor you could imagine.
I flew in on Saturday and stayed with an old college friend I haven’t seen since 2005. As it turns out, the best way to adjust to Vegas time is apparently to stay up until 3am on the first night- check! Though it makes for a long first convention day. Day one of the convention started out with a 9am platform class with Zack and Jody Gray. I would say out of all of the classes I attended, this class had the most tips for how I should be running my business. Their topic was outlining their above-and-beyond customer service- something I need to get better at. They always stay in touch with their brides throughout the booking process so that on the wedding day, the bride is super excited to see them and she has already informed all of her bridesmaids about their awesome photographers. They also went into a little bit about their social networking and pointed out that the only way to effectively utilize facebook is through immediacy- getting a few photos up the night OF the wedding, friending the entrire bridal party, and tagging everyone. I guess I just need to suck it up and instead of exhaustedly crashing after a wedding, get a couple of photos up from now on.
Later in the day I took a class from Kevin Kubota on lighting. Very informative, but probably boringly technical for the blog. Day two began with an 8am class given by Jerry Ghionis. I’m not gonna lie, I wasn’t sold on him for the first 30 minutes of the class. He spent a lot of time talking about himself and not teaching much. However, when he got into showing his photos, along with behind the scenes videos- it was incredible what he could do with a very blah setting. Not that he didn’t also shoot in amazing locations, but those are relatively easy to make beautiful. So much of his talent (in my opinion) was taking a small, boring bridal room at a church or a 2 star hotel room and making it into a portrait fit for the cover of a magazine. He utilized all kinds of natural backdrops and lighting from sources that normally scare off other photographers (like dappled or direct sunlight). For me, his work was inspiring and discouraging at the same time because it was so incredible.
Day two also included a trip out to Red Rocks National Park just outside of Vegas with my old college friend, Phil. He was nice enough to drive me out there and hike around for about 4 hours with me while I snapped some photos. As far as photography goes, I think I have the furthest to go in the arena of landscape and nature photos, so I was glad to take the time to get some shots out there- even though I accidentally wore my dress shoes instead of sneakers… a very bad idea when climbing rocks. I came very close to falling a few times (don’t tell Keri).
And here, you must note the length of spring and fall in Nevada:
Later that evening was a surprise for me when I landed a ticket from the WPPI facebook group to a private concert by Ingrid Michaelson. You may remember her song “Take me the Way I Am” from Keri and my save-the-date video last year.
Day three was essentially the trade show… all day. It was overwhelming to see and speak to all of the different vendors that I had even the slightest interest in. I spoke to album-printers, web designers, camera and accessory manufacturers, printing companies, and just about everything else under the sun. They had live demonstrations all day at numerous booths. There were multiple models at each of these shoots dressed in tuxes and wedding dresses (and I always wanted to yell “congratulations!” but never did).
Proof that even models eat McDonald’s fries:
To top off the day of being on my feet from 9am to 5pm, I decided to take it easy… and got out with Chelsea Patricia, Tamee Renee, and Kelly Lane for four hours of dancing at the VIP party at Tabu in the MGM. This is after hanging out the night before with these girls and Tiffany Wayne. We ended up making friends with Bradley Paul and Larry Reeves. It really was an incredible feeling to be surrounded by that many fellow photographers in one place- everyone I talked to was refreshing and genuinely excited to be there as well. Everyone loved shooting- whether it was their full time job for 20 years or part time for the past 2.
It was an incredible few days, needless to say. What I need to do now is go home, gather my notes and figure out how sculpt a plan for my business and passion going forward. With the knowledge I have from just these few days, I have plenty to keep me busy. First and foremost, I need to get out there and shoot with what I’ve learned! Who needs photos?!?
Bonus- me making a very cool thumbs up in front of Sigfreid and Roy’s house in North Las Vegas. According to my friend Phil who grew up around the corner, before they kept the animals off site, you could hear tigers roaring at feeding time every night.