Welcome to part 2 of my experience at the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International Conference and Expo, or WPPI.  You can read about the first half of my time at this incredible event in Part 1.  

In my attempts to make this year better than the previous one I enrolled in Master Classes and Photo Walks, which are more in-depth, geared towards specific topics with hands on learning and have limited space. 

Tuesday morning I began my day early with a photo walk at 8:30am.  I'm not sure why I decided to torture myself by committing to such an early class time, but I did.  Photo Walks are 1-1/2 hour shootouts led by an industry leader designed to provide hands on instruction.  This is your chance to photograph and learn alongside some of THE top photographers around the world.  So my first photo walk was One Light Storytelling with Easton Reynolds.  It did not start ideally, as I lost my group thinking I had time to make a pit stop along the way.  WRONG.  Panicked, and frustrated with myself I managed to locate them after about 30 minutes of searching.  When I arrived they were well into the instruction time, and then we broke off into groups to shoot with each other using the skills I had essentially just missed out on.  I did my best and found that my group members were so willing to help me out.  I always had this idea that photographers were competitive with one another, and maybe that is true to an extent, but mostly it's about sharing ideas and perspectives because none of us look at a subject and see it the same way.

At the end of the photo walk Easton had a giveaway of some photog gear and gift cards.  And I won a Yongnuo Speedlite AND Manual Flash Controller!!! I seriously never win anything!!  I am beyond excited to play with these new toys! 

Group shot! I'm in there awkwardly holding my newly won gear!  Image taken by Andy Lydick.

Wow, I so was not ready for that picture. There is a reason I'm usually BEHIND the camera!

After having deposited my gear back at my room I headed over to day one of the expo.  It. Is. Massive. After being so overwhelmed last year I decided to tackle this year a bit differently.  I went in with a game plan!  I had two definite items I wanted to research and/or purchase and I made sure to visit those booths first.  That gave me enough time to process the information and come to a better decision over the next few days.  Most booths have amazing deals if you purchase right at the show, but some also give you coupon codes exclusive to the show that expire later so you have a few days to ponder. 

The other thing I knew I was interested in, but not ready to commit to was learning how to incorporate shooting with film into my sessions.  Enter Rachel Solomon.  She gave a talk at the The Find Lab booth on being a hybrid photographer (shooting film and digital) and how she makes it all work to create a cohesive and gorgeous product for her clients.  Just the talk I needed to hear to elevate my interest in film again!  This is going to be a thing. 

I ended my day of classes with a Master Class in Boudoir Photography led by Jacquelynn Buck.  This is something I've been wanting to offer on it's own or as a part of wedding packages, but just didn't know where to start.  She explained in depth and with a live model the intricacies of posing real women of any shape or size to look and feel their absolute best.  She also broke down her business model for us to see how she has created a thriving brand.  

Tuesday night I attended a number of social events beginning with another Showit community dinner where I met and connected even more talented photographers from around the country. After which we all headed to the HoneyBook suite for the after-party! I then headed to the Palms Penthouse for the Thirst Relief Fundraiser Benefit Party.  With a fabulous view of the Las Vegas strip, live music and open bar it was well worth the ticket price!  That night ended with me eating Fatburger in my hotel bed at 3am. Good times.

Wednesday morning saw a very groggy me debate whether the 8:30am photo walk I had sign up for was entirely worth it.  It was.  Marrying Engagements and Architecture with Collin Pierson taught me how to see the everyday, ordinary locations and turn them into a visually appealing backdrop for my clients using perspective, lighting and symmetry.  Using these tools I can now turn even the most lackluster of spaces into a spectacular image for my clients.   

Images by Cate Batchelor Photography

These two images were my favorites of the photo walk.  The topmost photo was taken in a loading zone behind the convention center.  The lines of the railing guide your eyes straight to the subject making the viewer unaware of the not so ideal location.  The second image location may be a little more recognizable...a parking garage.  The wide perspective and symmetry lends itself to the photo, making it more visually interesting characterized by the juxtaposition of light and negative space punctuated by the couple.  

I rounded out Wednesday classes with another Master Class called The Roaming Photographer - Funding Your Lust for Travel led by Kristi Odom.  I have a deep desire to travel the world so this class was definitely geared towards me reaching those goals.  She gave practical tips and strategies for making the most of your travels with your camera in tow.  I also had no idea how difficult it is to get into certain countries with your camera equipment as a wedding photographer!! Packing light is key.  She also touched upon a mostly untapped market of honeymoon photography.  It makes sense right??  Why wouldn't you want to document some of the first and most real, fun moments of your lives together? This is also going to be a thing.

Wednesday afternoon I had an amazing opportunity to partake in shooting a styled shoot for the first time! It was too amazing, so it's going to have it's own post. (Coming soon!) 

Wednesday night had me thinking I would just spend a low key night in my hotel room, catch up on some sleep and make the drive home the next day. Whole lotta nope.  Two ladies, Rachel and Emma, from Florida I had met earlier during the morning photo walk texted me to join them at Fremont Street!  I hadn't said no to a single thing all week, so I wasn't going to start then!!  We took in the light show, side walk performers, and even did a little gambling.  I think it's fair to say my luck will never be as good as that week cause I won $400 on a slot machine! I never win anything!! I was positive my luck had run out so I packed it up and headed back to my hotel just to be safe, haha! 

Thursday I visited the expo again after sleeping in and made the long drive home.  The biggest takeaway from my experience this year is to just say YES!  Keep an open mind and say yes!  You will be surprised where it takes you.  To get a head start, join social media groups beforehand and connect with others who may also be traveling solo.  For me these were the connections that helped me hit the ground running and left me confidant enough to keep being social at every turn.  The photography community is comprised of some truly amazing people who want to support, educate and cheer you on!! (oh, and party!) 

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