It's that time of year! No, not Halloween...It's Photography Trade Show & Convention Season! There are many expo's though out the year, but the two biggest would have to be Emerald Expo's Wedding & Portrait Photography International (WPPI) in Feb/March, and PhotoPlus Expo (PPE) in October. The latter starting today! So for those of you returning for another round at the convention center, and especially the first-time attendees, I've put together a short list of tips to make the most of your time and help you survive the convention-gauntlet!
- Prep Your Portfolio! No matter what level you are, or THINK you are, have your work ready to show! You'll never know who you'll run into who will want to have a look at your work. It could be a future colleague, or it could be the head of a huge camera company looking for a new ambassador! It doesn't matter if your work is on an iphone or a 30" printed book, just be ready to show it at a moments notice.
- Do Your Homework - If you're already a working pro and you're looking for sponsorships & deals, research the Expo sites to find out who's going, present, and who has a booth! Find out who the reps are, where the networking events are, and even more fun, who's having giveaways and prizes!
- Stay Organized! - You will meet between 10,000 - 70,000 people in your life time. Think about that and try to figure out how you can keep all those people straight? Let alone remain fresh in some ones memory after just meeting you!! The bottom line is you need to keep in touch with the people you meet and with that huge number you'll need help keeping track! One tool I've come across to help the Photographer and Entrepreneur do just that is Evernote's companion app HELLO! A smartphone based OCR app that will quickly import the contact information into your address book, ad a custom note about how you met, connect with them on LinkedIn or Facebook, and the best part! You can customize and send a personal bio and introductory email with a single click of a button after saving their details! Not only is it a huge time saver, but it takes a lot of pressure out of figuring out that first "hello it was nice to meet you" message!
- Dress appropriate and get some rest! At the very least, stock up on vitamins and pain killers! You're going to be on your feet pretty much the entirety of the convention, so on that note, bring comfy shoes. There will be no end to after parties and sponsored events after the expo "closes" at 6pm each day, so be sure to manage your networking time with enough time to catch a power nap and take some vitamin c & b! If you're doing it right, by the time you get home you'll have the post-trade-show hangover (aka exhaustion cold!).
- Last and most important tip...have fun and learn something! Some of the industries top educators & photographers will be within an arms reach of you this week ready and willing to answer any question you might have...let alone all the hands on workshops, presentations, and photo walks! If you're ready for it, PPE, (and other shows like it), can be a life changing experience. So be sure to take in some classes and maybe you'll pick up a few things that'll bring your game to the next level.
If you're at the trade show and feel like saying hi to the Fstoppers crew, check out Douglas Sonders' article to find out where you can find some of the events we'll be at this week!