22 Tips To Make Your 'WPPI 2014' Experience Amazing

WPPI is less than 4 weeks away! The largest annual industry event for photographers and filmmakers that draws in over 13,000+ people to learn new techniques, build relationships, experience new products and find solutions for their business. This will be my 6th year attending WPPI and so I wanted to use my experience to share some valuable tips I have learned throughout the years.

1. Don’t carry your camera everywhere. This is a photography conference not a photo shoot. There is really no reason to lug around your expensive camera and nice lenses. If you need a photo of something, your point and shoot or smart phone will usually be just fine. Now I am not saying to leave your camera at home - there are after all some fun photo shoots you can sign up for while in Vegas.

2. Stay at the MGM or MGM Signature. All other hotels are at least a one mile walk to the convention. Might not seem like much but I guarantee you’ll be tired of by the end of the first day. It is also nice to be able to run up to your room and drop off stuff throughout the day or grab a quick power nap.

3. If you are attending WPPI with your friends, don’t all go to the same class. Split up, take good notes and share what you learned with each other.

4. Don’t count on having any Wi-Fi or cell signal while inside the hotel or convention center. They might have improved the network but in past years it has been piss poor.

5. Since you might not have Wi-Fi or cell signal make specific plans with your friends ahead of time to meet up. Don’t count on just being able to call or text them. If you do have plans, show up. Don't let your friends down and make them wait for you.

6. Grab a group of friends and head over to one of the excellent buffets while in Vegas. One of my favorites within walking distance is The Wicked Spoon inside Cosmopolitan. If you really want to splurge though go check out the buffet at The Wynn. YOLO!

7. You won’t be driving much in Vegas, and the MGM is one of the closest hotels on the strip to the airport. So don’t worry about renting a car - just grab a taxi. It should cost you about $15. If you decide to rent a car know that when you park inside the parking garage at the MGM you can walk directly across the street to the convention center versus up through the hotel and all the way around.

8. Make sure you leave room in your suitcase to bring things home with you. This means to make sure you don’t max out the 50 lbs limit otherwise the airlines will charge you a hefty penalty. There is a good chance you might take advantage of the sales you find at the expo and come home with some new gear. Even better, bring a duffel bag stuffed inside your suitcase that you can pull out and use if needed.

9. Pick out your favorite speakers and get yourself a “preboard” pass to see them. This will allow you to be in the preboard line - which is the group that gets let in first.

10. Wear comfy shoes. You will be walking a lot.

11. Stop and drink lots of water often… and Red Bulls. There will be lots of late nights.

12. Pack some meds. Every year after about 24 hours of being in Vegas you will hear about a number of your friends getting sick. It happens every year. Come prepared. Bring some cold, flu, headache medicine with you. Wash your hands often. If you do find yourself starting to get sick and need a pharmacy there is a Walgreens down the strip just past the large Coca-Cola bottle, directly across the street from the Monte Carlo. It’s a 10-15 minute walk.

13. Have a plan for the trade show. Find your favorite vendors on the expo map and visit them first. You’ll find the map inside the Expo Guide which you can pick up before going inside. Also keep in mind that there are two parts to the expo - in two different buildings. So don’t visit one and forget about the other. Lots to see.

14. As you walk around the Expo floor you’ll see some companies will have schedules for speakers they will host at their booth. These talks, typically about 20-30 minutes long, usually have lots of great info packed into a short amount of time. Definitely worth listening to. I like to pick up the schedule and plan my day around some of my favorite speakers visiting certain booths.

15. Need a Starbucks coffee? The line at the Food Court is always extremely long. There are two other Starbucks options in the hotel that might be closer to your room with much shorter lines. One is by the Avenue Cafe in the casino (open 24/7) and the other is located in the West Tower.

16. Want groceries delivered to your room? Safeway/Vons has a delivery service. You can order from online or using their phone app and have them deliver to your room. The service cost $6.95 but use code “EASY7” at checkout and you can try it for free. Here is the website, http://shop.safeway.com/ecom/home. There are also a few grocery stores just a couple minutes drive away - easy taxi ride or you could even board the bus across the street in front of Hooters and it will drop you off in front of Albertsons (Tropicana and Eastern) just a few miles down the street. It runs about every 20 minutes.

17. Need a late night place to eat. My favorite is the Grand Luxe Cafe in the Venetian Hotel. It’s open 24 hours and is just like Cheesecake Factory. Huge menu of options, not too pricey. Looking instead for some cheap greasy Mexican Food go to Tacos El Gordo. This place is 2.5 miles away so I would encourage you to grab the bus up to the Wynn to get there. But one of the favorites in town. It’s open till 3am.

18. Want to get spanked and drink bavarian beer. Go eat dinner at the Hofbräuhaus.

19. Have you been holding out to buy your Full Conference Pass. Use code “WPPISpeaker” to save yourself $75. The full conference pass also gets you a free guest pass - so split the cost with your friend.

20. Don’t spend the entire week with the same friend. WPPI is all about meeting new people in the industry. Use Facebook Groups full of photographers to find out who all is going to be there. Use the opportunity to meet people in person. Go grab breakfast or dinner together in groups. Step outside your comfort zone.

21. Check out some of the free attractions in Vegas. My favorites are the fountains in front of Bellagio which run from 3:00pm - 8:00pm every half hour and after 8:00 till midnight every 15 minutes. My other favorite is The Freemont Street Experience. Great place to hang out with friends for the night. It’s about a $25 cab ride though so catching a bus might be a better option. If you have never been to Vegas before and don’t plan on coming back soon to do some sight seeing be sure to check out some of the amazing hotels as well. Bellagio, Cesar, Venetian, Palazzo, Wynn, Paris - all of them are absolutely beautiful and definitely worth walking through. Once there ask the hotel staff about some of the best things to see and they’ll point them out for you.

22. Stick around till the very end. Each year I see a number of people head out late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. This year they filled up Thursday morning with lots of great speakers that you will not want to miss. It would be like throwing money away.

23. Throw some support to your Fstopper writers. Lastly, if you are coming be sure to come out Wednesday morning at 8:30am for my platform class. I’ll be talking about “Keys to Finding Success in the "Sharing" Economy” in PC84. In addition another one of our writers, Matt Kennedy will be speaking on Tuesday morning at 8:30am on how to “Explode Your Business By Spoiling Your Clients” in PC52. We would love to see you there.

Now it's your turn. What your some of your favorite tips while at WPPI?

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Alex Masters's picture

I'd be interested in finding out who else is going. Twitter hasn't been especially active regarding the expo, and the FB group doesn't move particularly fast.

Extra-curricular social side seems quiet, too.

Tam Nguyen's picture

You missed this tip: what's the strip club that's the best bang for your buck in Vegas?

Trevor Dayley's picture

Tip #18 already says where you can go to get spanked. Isn't that enough?

Tam Nguyen's picture

Nope. I was thinking somewhere of the $20-and-I-get-to-spank-someone line.

Zach Sutton's picture

You forgot the one I suggested --

Tip #3. If you see a staff member for Fstoppers, be sure to offer to buy them lunch or a drink. None of the articles on Fstoppers are pre-approved by an editor, so a writer for the site can have a lot of pull for the future success of your career.

Trevor Dayley's picture

Right you are Zach.

Stephanie Moore's picture

Breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi is AMAZING in the Paris hotel! Also, a friend was telling me that she always checks out Groupon or Living Social for some awesome discounts on food and activities during the week we're in Vegas :)

Trevor Dayley's picture

Sounds delicious!

Rick's picture

I have never attended the FULL Wppi, I live in Vegas and some of the classes seem really basic. I would be interested to hear who gets the most of what classes while you are here. Also, for food purposes, I would recommend Hard Rock for late night, you could possibly walk to it, and it has late night specials..

Michael Kormos's picture

I couldn't agree with #1 more. I routinely see people at these Expos walk around with multiple bodies. Not in camera bags or backpacks, on their shoulders! Bumping their way around everything. These expos are a thief's dream. And considering how some photographers dress, how can you tell who the bad guys are? :-)

BTW, walkie talkies are great for getting in touch with buddies on the trade show floor where cell phone signal is non existent. Just make sure you're all on the same channel. Last year I accidentally got the folks from the Canon booth on my channel. They spent the whole time complaining to each other about how much sharper those images at the Nikon booth are. That one's for you, J.McNally ;-)

And DO rent a car! Even for just a day or two. Vegas has some of the cheapest car rental rates in the country, and there is plenty to see and photograph. Red Rock, Death Valley, Valley of Fire State Park. Whether you're into landscapes, portraits or fashion, these are timeless settings!!! Well worth a visit with your camera!


heatherrichardsonphoto's picture

Get a case of bottled water. Vegas tap water awful. Not even the locals drink it.

Mbutu Namubu's picture

The last time I went to WPPI was to check out the "then" just released Leica S2. So, I only really went to see the camera. But on the way out, there was a guy giving a lighting demonstration to several hundred people. He was showing them butterfly lighting and they were in awe. That's when I realized that the whole thing had been taken over by amateurs. Maybe it had always been that way even in previous years, but that's the first time that I personally took notice of it..

Katharine Katie Bicket's picture

I think an even better option than a taxi is the Monorail! I have used it before and it's actually pretty effective :) http://www.lvmonorail.com/

jesus santos's picture

hey Guys, this is going this year to WPPI, any one know if WPPI has discount. if so please share. Thanks..

Lyndsey Fox Christensen's picture

First timer here, I want to do a shoot while I'm there, I've seen a few online, can I register for a shoot while I'm there or should I do it in advance? I don't want to miss out on any, but really can't decide which to do at this point- but don't want to get there and have some great last minute ones I can't do because I've committed elsewhere.