Over the length of my photography career I have always attended WPPI. It has been a rewarding experience to say the least. I have made new friends, contacts, and learned a lot from the many speakers in the different classes and on trade show floor.
Every year as WPPI 2014 Las Vegas approaches (Feb 27-Mar 6 and the Tradeshow Mar 3-6) I ask aspiring photographers and colleagues alike “Are you attending WPPI in Las Vegas?” Common responses are “yes” or “isn’t that for wedding photographers?”
Here is my two-part answer. If you are interested in becoming a photographer, a hobbyist, or a working professional you should attend. WPPI is promoted as a wedding and portrait photographer’s event but the convention is much more than that. WPPI is about learning and education in photography and filmmaking from some of the top professionals in the industry. And, just about every major photography equipment and software vendor attends the trade show.
· WPPI Conference+Expo is the premier industry event for photographers and filmmakers.
· Each year, nearly 13,000 professional and aspiring photographers and filmmakers attend WPPI
· Most attend to learn new techniques from industry leaders, build new relationships to grow their business, experience new products and solutions from major manufacturers to improve their productivity.
Before I move on to the second part of my answer, I do want to mention that attending WPPI for the first time is overwhelming, there is a lot to see, and you will be over stimulated by the wealth of vendors, speakers, and events at the show. WPPI has released an app that you can download from iTunes for mobile devices that will help you navigate and manage your time at the Convention and tradeshow. I would highly recommend using the app so that you can experience as much as you can in an organized way while you are there to be productive. Onward!
If your thinking “I have seen all the speakers and vendors before it's just more of the same.” Read on please, because I can relate to you on this, I felt the same way at one point.
As a business owner, you know, one of your top priorities is networking what you do to. There is nothing more important than “hand to hand combat to promote yourself.” As a rule good combat networking is 50% electronic, email, mailers, social media and all that other stuff that you do from a computer and 50% hands on "in your face combat network marketing." Getting out there and getting yourself noticed for what you do great by your peers is one of most important networking moves you can make for your business.
Here is a fact; no one photographer can photograph all the jobs. Some of my best referrals have come from other photographers. Just recently, a photographer referred me to a technical school to train 2 of their in house photographers on lighting and portraiture, thanks Jeff D. I attribute those referrals to networking and “hand-to-hand combat, the 50-50 rule works believe me. The WPPI trade show is the prefect platform for networking with photographers and vendors so that you can learn how to shoot, present your services, and make contacts.
Here is another fact, some of the best photographers in the industry speak on the trade show floor, so if you have a trade show only pass ($25 and free on some vendor sites) you could literality schedule out your time and visit every vendor booth with speakers. Last year Nikon featured Bambi Cantrell, Cliff Mautner spoke at the Kelby One booth, and Millers featured a couple who designed sets around themes in their studio for clients. And one year Yervant presented for Graphi Studio on how he uses one lens to shoot all his weddings. That alone changed my prospective on how to use equipment.
And last, don’t forget photography changes and evolves every year. As a pro I know better than anyone that it is hard to change processes in mid-stream when they seem to work, it’s a huge challenge and investment in time. I have seen more photographers quit the business than succeed because they did embrace change or venture outside of their comfort zones.
As photographers we have to continuity education ourselves and network; I understand this is no easy task I live it everyday. WPPI is a tool, a tool to understanding what is going on in our photographic community and a bellwether to what’s a head.
I heard one the best photographers in the industry, Matthew Jordan Smith, say “Get away from your computer and see the world if you want to grow as a photographer.”