I’ve been extremely fortunate that the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) is held every year in my hometown of Las Vegas, and I’ve been attending WPPI since 2011. This year the convention has moved from its longtime home at MGM to the Las Vegas Convention Center, so it will be interesting to see how photographers receive the new location. Here are my tips for WPPI for any first-time attendees:
Tips for getting the most of WPPI
1.) Research the classes ahead of time. I know this sounds silly but I am surprised at how many people wait to pick their classes at the very last minute. I really like attending marketing courses at WPPI and learning how photographers are using social media to reach their audience and convert them into wedding clients. Social media is constantly evolving, so it’s always great to stay on top of trends. Also, the motivational classes get me energized for the year, and I especially like listening to speakers who speak candidly about the early years of starting their business and what they did to grow their business.
2.) Attend some classes with speakers who are less well known–they might surprise you and you’ll learn a ton. While I definitely admire the keynote photography speakers Sue Bryce, they are some of the best photography educators out there, but there are many places to watch them, like on Creative Live. I once took a platform class with Roberto Valenzuela, and at the time I admit I had no idea who he was, but his class on trying to view things with a different eye really blew my mind.
3.) Sit in on the print competition. I think I learned the most information from the print competition. You don’t have to enter the print competition to listen to the judges comment on each print. Any registered attendee can go, and it’s also a very intimate environment. You learn why a print deserves the score that it gets, and what would make the print score even higher. Then when you see the prints in the awards gallery, you’ll have a better understanding and appreciation of those prints.
4.) Despite being a desert, it’s cold in Vegas! The temperatures in Vegas have been well below average lately, and it feels like the East Coast weather I was desperately trying to escape. Bring some warm clothes and comfortable walking shoes are a must. You will be walking a ton going from class to class and from cruising the trade show, and night life after (there are lots of WPPI parties!). If you’re coming in early or staying a few extra days in town, Vegas.com is a great resource for finding deals on shows and other attractions.
5.) Pack light if you can. If you’re not attending a styled shoot, I would leave the DSLR at home. It’s tiring to walk around with a DSLR all day. Plus, if you walk around the trade show, you’re bound to pick up flyers and catalogs and that weight starts to add up.
6.) Have fun but get enough rest. It’s not uncommon to get sick towards the end of WPPI — germs spread easily with large crowds. Don’t expect you can be a superhuman and attend every event and class. There is just too much going on at WPPI! But don’t let that stop you from meeting people and making new friends! I have met and made some great friends years ago who I still keep in contact today. Just make sure you don’t overexert yourself and drink plenty of water since it is very dry here. I always carry around a water bottle with me (bottled water at Strip prices can add up quickly).
7.) Uber and Lyft are all the rage nowadays. Be sure to download the app before arriving so you can get around town. There are special pickup locations at the airport and the convention center. Otherwise there are still plenty of taxis, or walking if you’re lucky enough to be staying within walking distance from the convention center.
8.) Create an action plan after the convention. The trade show is probably the most overwhelming part of the convention. There are so many vendors and sometimes you get drawn into a booth, and next thing you know you’ve shelled out a couple hundred on a product without conducting the proper research because there was a show special. You’ll need to set aside a few days after the show to look through all the brochures, to figure out what you need to purchase for your business, and also to create a plan to put into action everything you’ve learned at WPPI. Naturally, we play catch-up because we’ve been out of office for a week attending WPPI, and then all those notes you took at WPPI seem to fall by the wayside. Don’t let that happen!
Please leave a comment if you found these tips for WPPI helpful! I’ll try my best to answer any questions you may have too.