The most-anticipated event of the year is almost here – and it’s a big investment of time and money to attend. There’s a few simple things you can do to take full advantage – and still maintain your sanity! Here’s come sound advice, fun stories and helpful tips from other photographers who have attended in recent years:
+ If you haven’t already registered, get on it!
+ Look online for the tons of contests giving away free registrations. Search on twitter under #WPPI and check all of your favorite vendors’ Facebook pages. I won a free registration from Leather Craftsmen in 2010! – Linda Morrow
Do your homework
+ Read up on classes, events and workshops
+ Prioritize your favorites and make a calendar of the ones you want to attend so you don’t miss out
+ Trust that for the most part, WPPI has chosen a variety of great speakers, and there isn’t one right or wrong answer for whose class you should attend. Choose the class that suits what you are looking to strengthen in your business – have issues with off-camera lighting? Go for a class that focuses on new lighting concepts. Feeling a little behind-the-curve with marketing? Choose a speaker that can give new tips and tricks to push you in a new direction. Go with your gut – these classes are 2 hours long, so find ones that suit you and will be worth your time. – Christina Masters
+ Preboard and reserve your seats at up to 5 Platform classes so you don’t have to wait in line
+ If you’re attending with friends – divide and conquer. Learn and share ideas over lunch or drinks later in the day!
+ There’s so much to be gained! Inspiration! Networking! Fun!! Everyone knows that it can be a sensory overload, so my best advice is to approach the conference with an open mind, and have your goals on paper before you arrive. What are your must-see platform speakers? What vendors do you want to visit at the trade show? What photographer do you want to have a conversation with? – Emilie Sommer
+ Pack lots of light layers so you don’t overheat from running around, or get too chilly at from the A/C; a cute scarf, cardigan and/or light jacket as back-up is key
+ Add in extra time to grab your morning coffee, take lunch or grab something “quick” because lines will be long
+ Comfy shoes, a charger for your cell phone (so that you can plug it in while you’re attending workshops) and a BIG purse (for all the “stuff” you’ll be lugging around). – Isabel March
+ Keep it basic: A small notebook and pen, point-and-shoot (or better yet, just use your smartphone’s camera) and business cards. You’ll amass a lot over each day, and walk a lot, so be kind to your back and shoulders!
+ SNACKS! Sometimes it is not always easy to grab food and you want to keep going – I was so grateful to have yogurt, granola bars and water with me! You can get food in Las Vegas at a grocery store. We took a $10 cab and stocked up. – Susannah Gill
+ Be sure to check out the print competition – not only to see the winners – but sit in on a few judging sessions. You can pick up a lot of good tips and advice on lighting, posing, gesture and more!
Trade show tips
+ Make a list of things you want/need/are interested in; be sure to include products and services
+ Comparison shop beforehand to see what prices are competitive on items like lenses, lighting, bodies, etc that many companies sell
+ If you’re planning to price check on your smart phone, don’t count on it; dead zones abound in Vegas, and did last year for many on the tradeshow floor!)
+ Most vendors offer their best discounts on Monday, the first day of the trade show. When I walked into the trade show last year, it was so crowded that I decided to come back the next day. I learned that I should have stayed because I lost out on some major discounts! Some of the show specials offered are really significant. Try to research the deals in advance via facebook and the vendors’ websites. – Linda Morrow
+ Take note of trade show locations and hours
+ With two locations, hundreds of booths and tens of thousands of people, the trade show floor can be overwhelming, so plan plenty of time to explore
+ Make sure you’ve carved enough time out of your schedule for the trade show. It really is worth it, especially if you are in the market for a new lab or album company – all the products and price lists are right in front of you, and you can ask questions and ‘feel out’ the companies to see if they are a good fit for you. Remember, customer service at these places is CRUCIAL – you will be making calls to correct print orders, to reorder albums, etc, so make sure the reps for the company are the kind of people you want at the other end of the phone line. – Christina Masters
+ Find out what photographers and artists are speaking at booths and plan them into your day
+ Check back for Photo Bettie’s post on booths to check out next week!
+ Say hello, chat photographers and vendor reps up!
+ Invite some new people out for drinks or lunch
+ Give/get business cards and write a specific detail afterwards on the back to help you differentiate people once you go home and look through that stack of cards
+ Take a ton of business cards. Even in this technologically-centered world, exchanging business cards last year was the biggest way for me to make connections with others. Trade cards, check out the website/blog later, and if this person intrigues you, keep up with them after the convention! It’s so nice to have a network of peers and people who can continue to inspire each other long after WPPI has ended. – Christina Masters
+ Don’t be shy. You’re surrounded by thousands of other people who share the same love and passion for photography!
+ Make sure to plan time to relax!
+ Book a massage
+ Be sure to check out the spas while you are there – especially the one at Ceasar’s. It’s amazing! – Jennifer Domenick
+ Take a break from WPPI; Las Vegas has tons of amazing things to experience
+ Get out of the building at least once! Book a show, ride a roller coaster, treat yourself to a delicious dinner, rent a car and explore Red Rocks…
Share the love
+ Tweet about what inspires you! You’ll be passing it on to those who couldn’t attend the session – and maybe make a few new connections too!
+ Blog about WPPI, take photos. Tell your clients via social media what you are doing to further your photography education and to keep up with the latest technologies. – Linda Morrow
+ Share photos and thoughts online as well through your blog, facebook, tumblr – your favorite way to connect. Make sure to ask if it’s OK to photograph people or products that you intend to share or publish online
+ WPPI is a great experience… If you leave with a few valuable connections, and a few bits of useful advice to apply to your business, you have made it a successful trip. Keep your expectations reasonable, stay confident in yourself, drink lots of water and bring on the sequins! Have an amazing time! – Christina Masters