Last week I spent my time in Las Vegas, Nevada attending the WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photographers International) conference for my first, but not last time. I went in unsure about my future and came out reinvigorated, inspired, and ready to make some big changes. Not only were there incredibly uplifting speakers and classes, but a giant expo with the best of the best photography softwares, products, and services to make our lives easier. I was able to get a lot out of this conference and meet some incredible people along the way! Fun fact: I walked 27.48 miles between the 4 days there and slept on average of 5 hours a night. Thank you apple watch and the lovely person who gave me this because statistics make me very happy.
I just want to share a little about the classes I took. I strategically tried to sign up for the most classes I could. Because it was hard for me to just look at a list, I had to write the classes down on index cards, organize by color and lay them out as a chronological order so I could compare and figure out which classes I wanted to take. A lot of them overlapped, so some hard choices had to be made.
- Pricing for Profit with Tiffany Angeles. Tiffany spoke about a lot of barriers that a lot of us who underprice seem to have: accepting money. She laid it out in a way that made sense to me, using numbers and percentages. A photographer really only makes about 20% profit on any wedding they are shooting when taxes, Cost of Goods Sold, and overhead costs are accounted for. This was shocking! And that is a lower profit for those who do not price correctly.
- The Fundamentals of (re) Invention for Creative Entrepreneurs in the Digital Economy with Dane Sanders. This was one of the nicest speakers. He spoke about things he would have suggested to himself when he was starting, and gave some new perspectives on motivation.
- Wicked Fast & Creative Lighting Recipes for Wedding Photographers with Trevor Dayley. This guy was simply awesome. Not only did he embed cat Gifs into his presentation (to establish credibility), but he shared some secrets about lighting techniques that I had never really thought of doing prior. I will definitely be testing out some of his tricks on friends and implementing the ones I like in my wedding shoots.
- I also spent a very long time at the Expo between these classes and had to walk back to my hotel to drop stuff off at one point.
- Marrying Engagements and Architecture with Collin Pierson. This was a photowalk with a model. I got a little less out of the class because there were some very amateur photographers in the walk who ended up taking up time with their questions. So I took the model and had my own mini shoot while the speaker was answering their questions. There is no doubt that the speaker was talented and had a lot of information to share.
- A Fresh Perspective on Marketing: Systematic, Profitable and Sustainable with Melissa Jill. This girl was funny and very good at presenting. She gave us her secrets and some ideas that might help us grow our businesses.
- Get Featured- how to catch the eyes of editors with moderator Joe Switzer, Anthony Luscia from Martha Stewart magazine, Allison Bernstein from Two Bright Lights and Rebecca Crumley from The Knot. This was great and insightful! I learned some tips on trying to stand out and get my work published. They are sick of weddings from New York and California, so note to self: do not submit those weddings unless they are highly unusual.
- Expo between classes. I won a year's free membership to WPPI!
- The Art of the Wedding - The Story from Start to Finish with Tracy Taylor and Dee Green from 37 Frames Photography. HANDS DOWN THE BEST CLASS I TOOK! These two are some of the worlds best wedding photographers, and not only are they talented, but they are hilarious and so very friendly! This 6 hour class was well worth the price. They gave us a lot of promo codes and discounts, a few of their tips and tricks and any questions along the way. They also booked models and took us up to the Penthouse suite of the Westgate hotel for an on location shoot so we could see them in action. Needless to say, I got a lot out of this class! They are phenomenal and I am hoping to follow in their footsteps.
- Creating the Perfect Moment with Alex Pan. His photographs are stunning! He showed us how he stands out and books jobs that are $35,000 or $50,000, like it is no big deal. He started late in the game and is only 27. He is an inspiration in the photography field.
- The Expo closed at 3 :'( and classes ended early. I headed to the F-stop lounge where I mingled and met some more cool people! There were awards this day. Every night there were networking parties at clubs around Vegas, free drinks and no line for WPPI attendees!
Advice for future self or first-timers:
- Leave room in your bag to bring stuff home. I knew myself and I had already done this! Most of the booths had give aways or discounted items for purchase.
- Make a budget and try to stick to it. This will help you prioritize what you really need to get and make sure you know what you are able to spend without feeling guilty. It might be in your best interest to look at the expo attendee's pages before going so you have an idea of what products or services you want. They will have discounted offerings and in some cases have giveaways, so wait until the expo to purchase these items or get your promo code! When looking at your budget, also factor in the price of food, because it is probably 40% more expensive than where I live.
- Get a hotel that is walking distance because costs are high and if you want more fun money, you can save quite a bit by not having to take a taxi, Uber or Lyft. I stayed at a hotel that was a 10-15 minute walk from the convention center and just around the corner from the strip. I booked on Expedia with my airfare and it was less expensive than the discounts offered in conjunction with the conference hotel prices.
- Bring business cards! Again, I did this and normally have some on me (or I bring my boyfriend who carries them in his wallet because he is simply the best), but there were so many people I met that did not have any! Luckily I gave them my card so if I hear from them I can connect with them.
- There were discounts for classes if you signed up before the conference, but there were also plenty of giveaways for free classes. I had won a few and could not take them because I was already signed up for classes. It is a risk, but might be worth the money saved. I know for next time to sign up for fewer classes.
- Leave time for fun, and try to stay the whole time. This is a note for myself really because I do not really take vacations. I came in Monday night and was supposed to leave Thursday. I ended up staying an extra day because of a weather advisory that allowed me to waive my fee to stay an extra day. I ended up taking more classes and squeezing whatever else I could out of the expo before it closed. I was so happy I stayed because that last day really was the best for me.
- Mingle, mingle and mingle! Some conferences have less extroverted people, however, this was a conference full of the most outgoing type of people there are! Everyone was very friendly and approachable. They genuinely wanted to know what you did, where you were based and how business was going. I connected with people from all over the world and hopefully I see them in the future at various other conferences.
I have a lot of stuff on my to-do list now that I am re-energized and we will all be seeing some makeovers to Kerry McIntyre Photography's website.