So I've wrapped up my time here at the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International Conference and Expo (whew, that's a mouthful!), or WPPI for short. This was my second year going to this phenomenal event, but my first not being an awkward turtle. I've gone solo both times, but last year I was completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of classes, information, products, and people just everywhere that I was not my usual social butterfly self.
This time around my goal was simple, to make friends! I started by joining a few facebook groups such as, The Rising Tide Society, Shoot and Share, ShowIt and Honeybook WPPI group and rapidly found I was not alone in my feelings of nervousness. I was comforted by so many other photographers who, like me, were overwhelmed their first year and consequentially anti-social as well. This was truly the key to making my experience unforgettable. Not only was I in the know for all the networking events and social gatherings, but I was also surprised that people wanted to meet ME. Me? Really?!
I drove up on Sunday, planning to scope out the new location, the Las Vegas Convention Center, and get my bearings to navigate my way around. So glad I did! If you've been to Las Vegas before you know that everythings LOOKS like it is within walking distance, but you find out the hard way that it's not. That being said, I stayed at the Westgate which is right next to the convention center. It was still a bit of a trek, but easily walkable and I am sooo glad I changed my reservation at the last minute. For the sake of shamelessly plugging all my new photog friends I will just be referring to them as their business names (which is more often than not their actual names...we're a super creative bunch, haha!). I met up with one half of the Dallas, Texas based family and lifestyle photography team Kate and Kate Photography where we visited the Picasso and Degas gallery in the Bellagio, took in the Vegas sights, and had an excellent meal at Mon Ami Gabi. Sitting on the outdoor patio we had an awesome view of the Bellagio fountains just across the street. After dinner we ventured to The Chandelier Bar at The Comsopolitan where we indulged in excellent mixed cocktails and people watching. The secret drink to ask for is the Verbena. Just do it. Mind blowing.
Monday was a relatively relaxed day. I picked up my badge and stood in an epically long Starbucks line. I did not repeat that mistake again. I decided to attend a platform class led by Zach and Jody Gray, Julia and Jeff Woods, and Matt and Carissa Kennedy on how to balance your family life with being a business owner. Their tips and strategies, along with raw stories of their own struggles definitely made me see that it can be done with the right mindset and priorities. My greatest takeaway from them was that I need to find ways to give up control (outsourcing the parts of my business that I can) in order to take control of the life that I want, ie: more time with my kids.
Later that day, Kate and I decided to go out to Red Rock Canyon to do a little shooting and use each other as our subjects. As a photographer I definitely don't make the best model, but dayyyyyyum did Kate make me feel like a boss.
Later that night we attended the Showiteer Dinner at the Wicked Spoon, where everyone is a hugger! I HIGHLY recommend this event!! Not only, is the food AH-mazing, but the people I met were some of the most genuine people ever. Everyone is just so excited and friendly that it's intoxicating! This dinner is where I met so many awesome people including Michele of White Linen Photographers based in British Columbia, Abby Anderson in Minnesota, and some of the Showit team members! We instantly hit it off and it felt like we had known each other for years, like we were just catching up over dinner.
I often think I am "too old" to stay out late, but get me in Vegas and I apparently can't stop. Without going into too much detail, let's just say my average bedtime was approximately "waaaaay past" the usual, being surrounded by other wedding photographers. Let's face it, we basically attend massive parties for a living so we know how to do it right!
I realized as I began writing this that I did way more than I originally thought I had, so I've broken down my experience into two parts. Check back for Part 2 of my adventures at WPPI in Las Vegas!