I’m waiting to board a plane to Vegas and I have quite a few thoughts about this trip: what it means to me as a professional photographer and what it means to me as far as personal envelopment as well. Also, this was definitely the shortest wait I’ve ever had at any airport. That’s what I get for choosing a flight during the damn Super Bowl. But that’s not the point. Why am I even going to Vegas? Why go to a conference you’ve attended 3 times already? You’re going to party, aren’t you, Caroline?! Don’t get me wrong, there will be parties to attend and lots of wine to drink. But this is so much more for me about learning.
So what is WPPI anyway? Well, WPPI is like the photography Super Bowl. How you ask? Well first of all, at WPPI, big companies like Canon and Nikon launch incredible new gear (or maybe newish gear you haven;t seen yet in action). There is a huge trade show filled with camera companies, album and print companies, software companies and business resources. You name it- it’s there. WPPI is how we found our amazing albums company, KISS books in 2012, and how we found our studio management software, 17 Hats, in 2015.
Secondly, many top photographers from our industry around the world teach classes on everything from better lighting set ups to making your business more profitable. Continuing education for Evan and I has been high priority since the beginning. I think the fact that we learned our craft in actual art school plays a factor there. When we first saved up to attend WPPI, we were in our 3rd year of business and in the middle of a re-brand. There was a lot changing for us and we took classes on everything we could fit into our schedule. The second year wasn’t as valuable because we had implemented tons of changes and were letting them work for us. It was more inspiring for us that year. Then two years and a baby later, I attended WPPI solo. After having Remy I really just needed a creative recharge and to be re-inspired by my business. It was terrifying and exciting and I loved it so much. I came home with incredible information and immediately starting implementing changes. An it was huge for us. Now, 2 more years later, I’m going to refine my technical skills and take some new lighting classes. That seems silly for someone who has been a full time professional photographer for 8 years. But no matter how long you’ve been in this business, you’re never perfect an you can always get better. I never ever want to become too comfortable in my business. You end up in auto-pilot and I think that’s when your art becomes just work. I always want to be inspired.
Third, meeting other photographers. There are lots of newbies and veterans alike at WPPI and it’s crazy to be able to just casually say hi or hang out with photographers whose work you have followed your entire career. It’s humbling and inspiring and sends my heart racing all at the same time. I have met some amazing friends from lots of places and found some incredible networking communities too. WPPI brings me outside of my comfort zone. Honestly this business has gradually done that- turning this once very shy person into someone who will just walk up to people and start a conversation and invite people to dinner. 20 year-old me would think that is crazy! I LOVE going to WPPI with a flexible plan. In 2015 I explored one night completely on my own and visited a museum and took photos and it was a blast. I have plenty of friends attending this year an I’ll be meeting up with a bunch of them throughout the week, but being willing to put yourself out there and talk to strangers is always rewarding.