WPPI is the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International annual conference which brings together over 13,000 people within the photography industry. All types of photographers and all types of manufacturers were in attendance...including me for the very first time. The conference is split into two parts...the Conference and the Expo, both of which are held at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). The host hotel was the Westgate Las Vegas which is connected to the LVCC by the Las Vegas Monorail. Even with the monorail connection close by, there is A LOT of walking. I logged between 15,000-20,000 steps per day!
The Conference is where all of the educational classes happen and these cover all aspects of the photography business. Marketing, weddings, portraiture, photo retouching, photo albums, technical, fashion, beauty, filmmaking, and more. Really, anything you could want to know about your photography business is here from start to finish. Some of the most respected photographers in the business conduct these classes and share their industry knowledge so there is a lot of value in attending WPPI. Joe McNally, Peter Hurley, Lyndsay Adler, Jerry Ghionis and Sue Bryce just to name a few. I was able to attend various classes throughout the week and really picked up a lot of new information and ideas for my own business. Both from a business perspective as well as new, creative ideas that are trending in photography.
The other great part of the experience is the Expo which is a massive trade show for photographers. Big names like Nikon, Canon, Sony and others have a huge presence here. All of their latest gear is on hand and they all have speakers who have presentations held every half hour. You get to see the legendary pros right up close! I also had a chance to meet and shake hands with the people I do business with on the backend. These folks do a great job working with me via phone, email or social media throughout the year so it was really great to finally meet them in person. These are passionate people who put their best foot forward each day for me so I can look good. Other vendors like print labs, website hosts, lighting equipment companies, cases and storage...it was a lot of new gear that I was able to touch and hold!
Lots of new products and samples were on display. There's a HUGE value in touching the actual product instead of just seeing a photo of it online. At my print lab's booth, I was able to hold many of their different albums with different styles, sizes and textures. The photos albums are gorgeous...super soft leather, thick pages, perfect lay-flat binding, beautifully-gilded edging...these things are heavy (like 2lbs heavy) and not something you can get at a place like Shutterfly. True works of art...and these photos albums are INCLUDED with 3 of my wedding photography packages. Once you see your images in print, it's just...wow.
And finally, the photo walks. These are great! Photo Walks are classes held by other well-respected photographers for a group of 10-20 people where they help educate you on things like off-camera flash, engagement portraiture, boudoir, posing, etc. As the name implies, you're outside around the convention center area for these photo walks. It's a great way to get hands-on training in these areas, work with great models, and improve your skills on the fly. I attended two photo walks and picked up a ton of knowledge. Las Vegas makes for a great backdrop on these photos!
After the sun goes down in Vegas, the temps really drop quickly. It felt like a 10 degree drop so we took the remaining time of the photo walk inside the hotel. Here we learned another technique...take a horribly lit hotel meeting room and make something epic happen. It's a beautiful thing when you can use your camera and a few off camera speedlights to manipulate the scene and create a memory for someone.
So WPPI 2017 is in the books! It was a really busy week but I had a blast and I was able to squeeze a ton of knowledge and value out of this trip. I'm looking forward to coming back next year to continue improving my knowledge and to meet up with the friends I made during my visit.
Check out all of the photos from my trip here.