While people around the world prepare for the holidays, photographers have something else on their mind. For all of us it's that time of year to buy your conference pass, make your hotel reservations, plan shoots with friends and highlight the classes you want to attend at the annual WPPI Photo Conference in Las Vegas from February 26th thru March 5th.
This will be my 7th year in row attending WPPI. It's become a tradition I wouldn't dare miss. While there are many opportunities for learning in our industry, nothing quite matches the experience of WPPI. It's the one week every year when over 13,000 professional and aspiring photographers and filmmakers arrive into Las Vegas for a week of education and networking. The organizers for WPPI do an amazing job bringing in some of the best educators to teach and inspire, as well as fill two enormous conference room floors with the top companies in our industry.
My favorite part about WPPI is the enormous diversity of classes that are offered. Whether you are just getting started (like I was 7 years ago) or have been doing this for years, there are classes for all levels. To make it easy to find the right class they organize them by "tracks." The nice thing is you don't have to choose a track and stick to it, instead you are more than welcome to hop around and attend the classes you feel would be best suited for you in your situation. These tracks include Business, Filmmaking, Inspirational, Lighting, Portrait, University, Wedding, Workflow and even Spanish para los que hablan español.
I wanted to give you a sample of the line-up so here are just a few class titles from each of the tracks. There are many more to choose from each day though. See the complete line up on their website.
- Double Your Portrait Orders Without Working More Hours: Selling Techniques for Getting Huge Sales - Sarah Petty
- Go Viral and Get Press - Mike Allebach and Jaleel King
- The First Five Years: How to Launch a Successful Photography Business - Kevin Kubota
- How To Break Into Today's High End Wedding Market - Julia and Danny Dong
- Mastering Short Form Wedding Films - Adam Forgione
- Make it Easy and Make More Money - Joe Switzer
- Creating a Tailored Sales Presentation for Filmmakers - Taryn Pollock
- The Art of The Hustle - Pat Furey
- The Fear of Photography - Kirsten Lewis
- Specialize or Blend In, Learn To Stand Out From The Crowd - Mike Larson
- Luxuorious Lighting - Jerry Ghionis
- Loco Light! Getting Crazy With Video Lights - David Beckstead
- Tough Lighting Scenarios at Weddings and How to Overcome Them - Neil Van Niekerk
- Creating Big Looks With Small, Cheap, and Lightweight Gear - John Mireles
- Speed Lighting - Joseph Victor Stefanchik (JVS)
- Fashion and Beauty Photography Essentials - Lindsey Adler
- Portraits With Soul: How to Connect With Your Subject - Damon Tucci
- Exploring Double Exposures and Creative Portraiture - Sara Byrne and Dylan Howell
- The Most Effective Approach to Effortless Posing - Roberto Valenzuela
- Destination Weddings Demystified - Kenny Kim
- Focus on Fabulous Weddings - Bambi Cantrell
- The Inhale: Creating Emotionally Charged Images - Jacklyn Greenberg
- Behind the Veil: The Reality of a Successful Wedding Brand - Zach and Jody Gray
- Best Practices to Make the Most of Your Website - Shelly Paulson, JP Elario, Evan Chung
- Editing and Workflow - Ben Sasso
- Wedding Photography Workflow - Vanessa Joy
- 100 Ways to Improve Your Photography Business - John Michael Cooper
- The Ultimate Lightroom Workflow for a Busy Studio - Matt Kloskowski
As you can see from the list there are so many opportunities to learn and be taught by some truly incredible educators in our industry. In addition to all that the team behind organizing WPPI is bringing something new to the table this year called Photo Walks. These walks are exclusive 1 ½ -hour, hands-on shootouts limited to 25 people each that focus on teaching the participants to sharpen their observation and composition skills while shooting alongside an industry leader. Each Photo Walk will demonstrate the leader’s unique skill set, including everything from off camera lighting, posing, gear, lens selection and more.
Every year one of the most talked about parts of the conference is the Expo Show. Two huge conference floors are full of vendors showing off their best new products and typically offering them at deep conference show discounts. It really is a wonderful opportunity to explore and find new products that will be game-changers in your business in 2015.
For someone that has never been to WPPI before it can all seem a bit overwhelming. From Platform Classes, Expo, University Classes, Master Classes, to Photo Walks one can become paralyzed trying to figure out what to do and where to spend their time. My suggestion is this. WPPI as I see it basically has two parts to it. The main part of it happens from Sunday, March 1 thru Thursday, March 5th. This is when most of the attendees land in Las Vegas and attend the Platform Classes, Expo and the new Photo Walks. The other part of WPPI is more of a specialized section which starts on Thursday, February 26th and goes till Saturday, February 28th. During these days you can sign up for Master Classes and The University. A Master Class is a 2-hour hands focused detailed learning experience and The University is a full one-day workshop. Some people attend the whole conference from February 26th thru March 5th, but if your schedule doesn't allow that then I would suggest at least being there for the Platform Classes and Expo (Mar 1st-5th). It seems to me that during that time you can get a lot done and be part of all the action while it's happening.
Here are two more recommendations to make your WPPI experience unforgettable. Take some time (at least an hour or two) to go sit in on the print judging competition. I always learn so much from the critiques of each photo they place before the judges and I guarantee you will as well. Along these same lines be sure to attend the award ceremony at the end of the conference to see all the top prints and albums. It is truly mind blowing! My second recommendation is to talk to as many people as possible. Our industry is truly something unique and suprisingly we love helping one another. Yes occasionally there will be the infamous "trolls" that attack online and try to bring photographers down. But I have yet to see any of those "trolls" show their faces in public at WPPI. Everyone is so nice there and always ready to lend an ear, a hand shake even a hug. Make it a goal for yourself to meet at least 20 new people every day. Don't hang out all by yourself in your room. There is stuff going on at all times of the day, even into the wee hours, take advantage of ALL of it.
You would think that this would cost quite a bit of money. That's before you realize WPPI is the BEST VALUE of the year when it comes to conferences or workshops. For the next couple days you can still get the Early Bird pricing which saves you $20. WPPI members can pick up a Full Platform Pass which includes the Expo as well for just $99 till December 14th. Seriously! $99! On December 15th that price goes up to $119. If you are not a member of WPPI the pass is $199. Here's what I would do though. Sign up for a WPPI membership for $125 and then pay the $99 price. That way you get all the benefits of being a member for an extra $25 of what you would have paid. Also friends, this is just half the price that the conference platform pass was last year. Take advantage of this! You can read up more on the pricing on this PDF they had made available. If there is one event you should attend this year WPPI should be it!
This all goes down at the MGM Hotel and Casino. It is an amazing place and located right in the middle of all the action on the Las Vegas Strip. Vegas is one of the most exciting cities in the world and definitely worth seeing. So while your calendar will be filled from morning till night with learning and networking opportunities be sure to get outside at some point (or spend an extra day there) and see what makes Las Vegas fascinating.
Lastly, here is a short plug for my own class. On Wednesday, March 4th from 8:30am-10:00am I am teaching a class called "Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business." In my class I will be sharing 31 different marketing strategies I've used to help grow and manage my business.
See you in Vegas!