What happens in Vegas … GETS BLOGGED!
What a trip!!! For those of you who don’t know, I just got back from Vegas. I was there for the WPPI 2013 Conference. WPPI, which stands for Wedding and Portrait Photographers Int’l, is a huge event that attracts up to 16,000 photographers from around the world. This week long event has continuous classes offered by our industry leaders, a major trade show, and numerous networking events.
Before I left, I probably read a dozen articles on how to improve your trip to WPPI. Because I’m so thankful for all the advice people were willing to share, I thought I would make a list of my own. So, this list is for any photographer that is headed to WPPI and needs advice and tips on how to make the most of their experience.
1. Stay at The Signature by MGM Grand. Well, you don’t have to, but it was AMAZING! I recruited three friends to join me in this adventure, so we were able to split the cost of a suite. The major benefit to this was having a full size kitchen. After we arrived at the airport we took a taxi to a nearby grocery store. We stocked up on sandwiches, milk, frozen pizzas, fruit, veggies, etc. It saved us money, and we really appreciated having a healthier option.
Another benefit to the MGM Signature is that it is right next to the convention center. It’s a luxury hotel without a casino in the lobby. We didn’t have to walk through gambling/smoking/drinking to get to our classes every day. It was just a short outdoor walk which gave us a chance to soak up a little sun and breathe in some fresh air.
Walking back and forth between the convention center and the hotel also gave us a chance to meet people…like ZACH AND JODY GRAY! If you’re a photographer you probably know who they are. Zach grew up Northern Minnesota on the iron range and actually knew my husband who is from there as well. Zach and Jody now live in Nashville and run one of the most successful wedding photography studios in the country. They are Christians who boldly profess their faith and definitely have the gift of teaching. It was awesome meeting them!
ME WITH ZACH AND JODY GRAY
2. Next tip is to stock up on sleep and Vitamin C before your trip! They have hand sanitizer stations throughout the convention building. Utilize them. I was sick for the entire trip! My nose would not stop running, my eyes would not stop watering, my throat would not stop burning, and I could not stop coughing. It’s hard enough to sit in classes all day, but it is even harder when you don’t feel good. I shouldn’t complain too much, because even though I was exhausted, I was still able to learn and see a lot. If you do get sick, there should be a store in your hotel lobby. It most likely has Dayquil and cough drops and sunglasses. 😉
I LOVE MY FRIENDS!
3. Take as many classes as you can, but try to stick with a theme. My focus this year was to learn how to run a successful business. That’s right, I didn’t take any classes on how to take better pictures. Want to know why? The picture below was taken at a Master Class taught by Leanne Marie. Each of those boxes on the screen represents a step she takes with each client. Realize that these are only the steps that happen after she’s done photographing them. That’s a lot of business to take care of! They say to run a successful photography business, one must first be a good business person and then a good photographer. There’s so much to learn!
LEANNE MARIE WAS AMAZING!
4. Don’t fill up all your free time. When I was first putting my schedule together, I noticed some gaps in time. I wanted to get everything out of this trip that I could, so I filled those time slots with extra classes. I now wish I would’ve left more time for resting, going over my notes, and for spending time at the expo looking at all the awesome products. Check out these awesome purses and wallets I found!
5. Try to see one show or do at least one activity outside of work. An entire week with all work and no play can be a drag. Try to take time to experience something new and fun. Me and my girls decided to dress up and see a Cirque du Soleil show. There are many Cirque du Soleil shows in Vegas, but Mystere at Treasure Island was the one we decided on. It was absolutely amazing! We don’t get the opportunity to see things like that very often in our little town of Bemidji. It is definitely an experience I will always remember!
6. Bring a ton of business cards. Part of the reason for going to WPPI is to network with other people in the industry. Bring a lot of business cards. Especially since you never know when a piece of chocolate might make its way into the pocket where you keep them and melt all over them. That’s what happend to me. True story. Maybe I should’ve still used them. They would’ve been the sweetest business cards at the show! But seriously, don’t be shy. Talk to people. Ask them their name, where they’re from, what they photograph, etc. There are so many awesome people at this show. You never know which ones will become lifelong friends.
7. Register with a separate e-mail. When you go through the expo you wear a name badge that gets scanned by vendors. The vendors will then send you tons of e-mails that will go directly to the e-mail you registered with. This can be a headache if you have to sort them all out with your customer e-mails. Set up a separate e-mail account that you can sort through on your own time.
8. Wear comfy shoes and layers. If you’re a wedding photographer, you already understand this. Vegas is big, and you will be walking/standing a lot. The temperature also fluctuates. Wear comfy shoes and layers. You might also want to bring along a bag for all the fun things you find at the expo. Vendors let you take pictures of their products which is a huge bonus. There’s just too much to remember!
9. Try to join a shoot out. There are many staged shoots taking place during WPPI. I did my first one through Couture Clicks with Emma and Josh. They are super sweet, and the experience was amazing. They put together a Ghost Town shoot for a small group of us. We then took the whole day to take pictures at an awesome Ghost Town location which was about an hour outside of Vegas. I made some great friends and was able to learn some new things.
I’m trying to think if there’s anything else, but I think I covered it all. If you think of something feel free to add it in the Comments below.
All in all, the trip was amazing. I am still trying to sort through all my notes and ideas. I learned so much, and I’m excited to implement a lot of it into my workflow and business. My clients are the best around, and I want to make sure I’m providing them an amazing experience in every way. I’m so excited for the next WPPI! Maybe I’ll meet you there one day!