Julie Paisley Desert Shootout | WPPI 2018


Julie Paisley Desert Shootout | WPPI 2018

So this is Part III of my WPPI 2018 series. You can read more about my adventures in Part I and Part II, where I talk about how to survive and the different kinds of classes and events that go on for any photogs that are new or anyone thinking they want to take the dive and go! 

Last year, I heard talk of events going on, outside of what WPPI offers, called "shootouts." These are basically styled shoots that are flawlessly designed and executed by a host, in this case Julie Paisley, who is an AMAZING film photographer and I want to be her when I grow up. So shootouts are styled events hosted by a photographer, FOR photographers to add gorgeous images to their websites and portfolios. There are typically around 25 photographers sharing time between various models, table designs, invitation suites, florals and other details. The idea here is to shoot quality, not quantity. You don't NEED 1,000 photos of the same thing. 

This was my first shootout and a brand new experience for me. It's a completely different world working with professional models, who require minimal direction. A lot of what I do during a shoot is geared toward helping my clients feel comfortable in front of my camera, so it was amazing how little time I needed to get STUNNING images!

All these images were taken at the Julie Paisley Shoot out, with creative direction, styling and florals by Janna Brown Design, and hair/makeup and assist by Natalia Issa.


Since this was my first shootout I made sure to introduce myself, and ask about how it all works. Basically, each photographer gets between 3-5 minutes to direct the model, and the rest are welcome to shoot from the side. We broke off into smaller groups, and had ample time to work with each model setup. I'm not going to lie, it's incredibly anxiety-inducing to be watched by a large number of other photographers all vying for the models attention, and there were a handful of people with dominant personalities that left me a bit irked. Overall, I'm pleased with the gorgeous images that I do have, and I met some truly lovely people in the process. I'm definitely looking forward to next year, and perhaps keeping my sights on smaller workshops in the future.



Taken at the @JuliePaisleyPhotography Shootout

Creative direction, styling & florals |     @jannabrowndesign

Hair + Makeup and assist |      @nataliaissa

Nemoria Editorial (Purple Gown) & Table Scape

Gown | Carol Hannah      @carolhannahbridal

Purple Paper Goods | Bohemian Ink      @bohoink

Silk Ribbon | Silk and Willow      @silkandwillow

Table Linens | La Tavola Linen      @latavolalinen

Chairs | RSVP Party Rentals      @rsvppartyrentals

Ring | Susie Saltzman      @susiesaltzman

Ring Box | The Mrs Box      @the_mrs_box

Suit | Zara      @zara

Modeling Agency | TNG Models      @tngmodels

Models | Purple Gown @mckennazhang  Male @manybta_


Domenica Editorial

Gown | Domenica Domenica      @domenica_domenica

Suit | The Black Tux      @theblacktux

Paper Goods (White & Black) | Bijou Creative      @bijoucreative

Silk Ribbon | Silk and Willow      @Silkandwillow

Ring | Susie Saltzman      @susiesaltzman

Modeling Agency | tng models      @tngmodels

Models | @michelle_senecal  @jword_

Shoes | Bella belle Shoes      @bellabelleshoes


Sundance Editorial

Gown | Elizabeth Dye      @elizabethdye

Paper goods (Cream color on cream silk) | Esther Clark co      @estherclarkco

Silk Ribbon | Silk and Willow      @silkandwillow

Ring | Susie Saltzman      @susiesaltzman

Model | @conwaterman


WPPI 2018 | Plus Class Experience

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WPPI 2018 | Plus Class Experience

This is Part II of my WPPI 2018 series, as it's always too much to cram into one monster post. WPPI stands for Wedding and Portrait Photographers International, and it takes place in Las Vegas every year.

Photographers from all over the globe come to speak, educate and motivate the crap out of us peasants trying to make it in this crazy, competitive and creative industry. I always arrive thinking I've got this photography thing down and leave incredibly humbled and hungry for the next creative challenge. You can read more about how to survive and thrive at WPPI in my first post. 

My absolute favorite experience from WPPI this year was a Plus Class led by Scott Johnson of The Edge Photography, called The Art of Bride and Groom Portraiture. This being my first Plus Class, I did a little ol' fashioned internet stalking (see tip #2 in my survival guide) before choosing a class. I was a bit anxious about how a 6 hour long class would go, as I definitely find myself nodding off in classes that are all talk. And sure enough, internet stalking for the win! I found that Scott Johnson is an award winning photographer and that I LOVED his use of light, symmetry, and architecture, but most of all his message: to create truly unique and breathtaking imagery for not only his clients, but himself. 

 Scott Johnson Plus Class: The Art of Bride and Groom Portraiture.  Showing us how to find the right light, and use leading lines and symmetry to create visual interest. 

Scott Johnson Plus Class: The Art of Bride and Groom Portraiture.  Showing us how to find the right light, and use leading lines and symmetry to create visual interest. 

He introduced himself by saying that when he comes to WPPI and sees the winning contest images, he immediately thinks, "Wow, I suck."  Being an award winner himself, his comment surprised me. He voiced a comment I have said countless times to myself when I see these incredible award winning photographs or even when I scroll through Instagram. It put me at ease, making me realize that even the top photographers in the world still get insecure about their own work, and are constantly learning just like me. 

I've rapidly found that I am more of a visual and hands on learner, and Scott's plus class did not disappoint. We only spent a fraction of the class time listening to his presentation, but I could listen to his delightful English (Not British, because apparently there is a difference) accent allllll day.


Most of his class was spent shooting outside, which was perfect, even in the rain! He explained how he would approach finding the right light, and places of visual interest as if it were a real wedding day. He explained simple ways to turn stagnant bridal poses into the soft, stunning and feminine poses that make brides say, "Is that really me?"

 I promise this wasn't a black and white class, but everything just looked more amazing in B&W. These the few images I kept in color, haha!

I promise this wasn't a black and white class, but everything just looked more amazing in B&W. These the few images I kept in color, haha!

He explained the idea of  balancing the posed and "proper" images that Mom and Grandma want to frame, with the creative and life-giving images that make us excited to keep doing this crazy photography thing. He said, "You have to eat your vegetables before you get the chocolate pudding." He's so right. We have to get the plain and bland shots that get us paid, then we can do the creative shots that get us excited to continue pushing forward. 



If you are looking to submit photos to contests or judging, he explained what judges look for to award points and what they will dock points for. Literally the most minute details can make or break an image being judged. He truly wants us all to succeed, and taught us real tools we can use to improve our craft.


He explained simple ways to pose men, which is something I struggle with. Being a female, I tend to (wrongly) assume men don't have the same insecurities that we have on the daily, but they totally do! I find it particularly interesting to learn photographic techniques from men, as it's a completely different mindset, and point of view that I am exposed to. (pun intended, haha!) Learning simple ways to help a groom look and feel his best on his wedding day is just as important as making the bride look and feel her best. He's not just an accessory people! 


Not all educators have the same approachable, and straightforward attitude that Scott has. I appreciated his honesty, bluntness, and humor most of all. He's just a silly guy that's loving his career, for the most part, and passing on what he knows to us peons. He has a refreshing community over competition mindset, that greatly speaks to me on a personal level and I hope he decides to teach more in the future. Overall, I had a blast in Scott's plus class, and he even offered to grab a beer with us all afterwards! Whaaat?? Beer? My kind of human.

I cannot recommend his class on bride and groom portraiture enough! If you're finding yourself in a creative rut, just remember to eat your vegetables so you can get to the pudding!!! 



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WPPI 2018 | Surviving and Thriving


WPPI 2018 | Surviving and Thriving

This year was my 3rd year attending WPPI, but I don't technically count my first year when I was terribly overwhelmed, anti-social and hid in my hotel room. Sooooo...my 2nd year at WPPI was a great one! For those of you that aren't photogs or have never been to this amazing conference, WPPI stands for Wedding and Portrait Photographers International. It takes places in Las Vegas (OH YEA) every year, and is way too much fun to fit into 5 days, but somehow they manage to do it! You should totally go!

Now for a quick breakdown of how the conference works! There is a conference and expo. The conference is where the speakers and educators give motivational talks or teach valuable skills that you can implement into your own business. There are different types of classes: the Platform Class, Master Class, Plus Class and Photo Walk. Platform Classes are large scale, first come, first serve and cover broader topics. Master Classes are 2 hours in length, with a more specific topic and must be reserved in advance as there are limited spots available. Plus Classes are 6 hours with an even smaller class size (around 12), which offers more "hands on" and "one on one" learning opportunities from top professionals. Photo Walks are exactly what they sound like...you go on a walk to take photos with models, basically little mini shoots to teach a specific skill set, like posing, lighting, etc. 

The expo is 3 days of booths run by top exhibitors in the photography industry like Cannon, Nikon and FujiFilm showcasing their services and products to make our lives as photographers better and more efficient. From professional photo labs, to lenses, to editing services, lighting equipment and beyond, there is always something I find I MUST have right meow!! 

Surviving and thriving

1. Reflect

Before signing up for any classes or planning anything for WPPI, take some to reflect about what you can improve in your business, skill sets, products, client experience, etc.  There is SO much to learn and do and see that it can be incredibly overwhelming (as I found out my first year) if you don't have a plan of attack.

Last year, I focused on improving my off camera flash lighting techniques and brand creation. This year I focused on marketing and networking. 

2. Research and Plan

Once the class list is revealed, go through it to see which classes catch your eye and fit what you are trying to improve and compile a list. Is it a class teaching a topic that you want to focus on this year? Is it something new you want to learn? What day are the classes on? Do any of them conflict with each other? Plan out which "must do" classes you want and plan your days accordingly to make those top priority. 

Once you have compiled your preliminary class list, then it's time to internet stalk the educator teaching the class. Chances are you've probably heard of them already, but if you haven't, you want to know what their style of photography is, their message, who they are and what they are about. I find it's a pretty good indicator of how much you will take away from what they have to teach. 

3. Be Realistic 

You can't do it all. You just can't. If you're anything like me (ie: old) and scheduled an 8 am photowalk, then be prepared to go to bed early the night before. It's Vegas and you are going to be tempted to stay out late, but remember why you are there! Yes, you are there to have fun, but also to learn. If you know that you want to party every night, then plan your schedule accordingly with later class times. A lot of the classes have limited space, and if you signed up and no show, then you wasted a slot that someone else could have benefitted from as well as your own money. 

4. Say yes

Be open to new experiences and people! Say "yes" more than "no" and you will be surprised where it takes you and who you end up meeting. I have made lifelong friends by doing something as simple as saying "yes" to In N Out burger at 1 am, or "yes" to beers after a master class. I have gone to WPPI alone every year because I know that I will meet new amazing people just like me who LOVE photography! 


5. Dress Appropriately

Your outfit choices can make or break you at WPPI. Comfy shoes are a MUST. Vegas is huge. There is a lot of walking to get to classes, speakers and the expo alone is a massive undertaking. WPPI is also during winter time, so it gets pretty chilly. Luckily, I'm a Fall/Winter person and love my layers upon layers of sweaters, scarves, coats and boots. 

Keep in mind this is also an opportunity to network. You are meeting new people everyday and a first impression goes a looooong way. You don't have to dress for an interview everyday, but be presentable. You are your brand, and you never know who you might meet. 

6. Be Prepared 

You will be attending classes to learn, so bring what you need to succeed. Most educators will provide their slides or presentation digitally after the conference is over, but bringing a notebook and pen is an easy way to jot down important ideas during class. I find that writing things down keeps me awake if I had a late night prior, haha! 

Bring your phone and any portable charging packs. You don't want to be lost without your phone in the labyrinth of expo booths, and you don't want to be stuck to a wall because your phone needs to charge. 

Bring your camera gear, but pack light! Only bring the essentials, or it can be a lot to schlep around a big conference. Even if you aren't signed up for a photowalk or class that has a shooting portion, there are TONS of shootouts going on outside of the conference itself. Sign up for a styled shoot out, or plan an impromptu shoot with your new photog friends that you've made. This is an excellent opportunity to refresh your creative spirit, build your portfolio, or update your headshots. 

Bring something to do. You will have down time. I typically bring my laptop so I can edit or work if I'm waiting between classes. 


7. Business Cards

Bring them!! If you don't have them, get them ASAP!! This gets it's own section because it's so important. It's an easy way to get your info out into the cosmos. Exhibitor booths will have prize drawings, speakers will raffle off neat prizes or incentives, and all it takes to enter is your business card! You will get asked, so bring them and give them out like candy!

Now you know the insider secrets to surviving (and hopefully thriving) your first trip to one of the biggest photography conferences around! It can be overwhelming, but with these tips you can tame your nerves and tackle the chaos in stride.

Was this year your first or tenth time at WPPI? Tell me what worked for you!