Tuesday, March 15, 2016

WPPI: My Experience

Last week I attended Wedding Portrait Photographer International (WPPI) 2016 in Las Vegas. It is the premier conference and expo for wedding and portrait photographers. This was my first time attending this conference because it is held on the West coast and I live on the East coast.  I have always attended its sister conference PhotoPlus International Conference and Expo at the Jacob Javitis Center in New York City.  

WPPI is comprised of many elements and their main components are the print competition, the classes, and the expo itself.

(Myself and the fabulous Susan Stripling)

16 x 20 Print Competition
Unfortunately, I did not fly into Las Vegas in time to make it to the print competition. However, I promised myself that I will not miss it next year. It is a unique experience for all photographers at any and all skill levels. For some it is the highlight of the conference because they’re eager to receive a grade for their print. For others, it is a great learning experience. If you attend the judging portion of the competition, you will be able to hear the judges’ critiques of prints entered. I have been told that the critiques are beneficial to all photographers’ as you will be able to apply what you have learned in your own photography. There is also an album and filmmaking competition. Next year I will definitely be there as well!

Platform Classes
My wonderful and thoughtful fiancĂ© surprised me with a Photo+ Membership for Christmas. This granted me a Full Platform Pass into WPPI. I was able to pre-register for five Platform classes and take advantage of a 30% discount on seminars (I suggest you sign up for it! It is truly worth it). I took full advantage of my membership and pre-registered for four classes geared towards posing and lighting for wedding photographers. I attended talks by Zabrina Deng, Cliff Mautner, and Vanessa Joy and was not disappointed! Each class was filled with a wealth of knowledge, which I am still trying to wrap my head around. Every instructor was well prepared with informative slide shows that contained amazing pictures and lighting diagrams showing you how to achieve those exact results.

Photo Walk
Even though I was skeptical about group sizing, I signed up for one photo walk: Of Camera Lighting for Natural Light Photographers. I thought that I would not be able learn in such a large group setting. However, the group was comfortably sized, but not massive and easy to navigate! By the end of the class I edged my way to the front and captured the pictures I anticipated. Vanessa Joy shared with us her techniques for using the new Profoto B2 off camera flash. We were able to test the lighting and techniques on an actual newlywed couple. I can wholeheartedly say that shooting while learning is the best practice for any photographer. It is one thing to learn from a book and then try to apply that knowledge. It is even better to learn a new technique and immediately apply that skill. This had to be my favorite part of the entire experience. I will be signing up for more photo walks next year. Here are some of my favorite images from the photowalk:


WPPI's expo is in a league of its own. The ample amount of space at the MGM Grand allows the conference to be split into two areas. Most of the larger sponsors, (i.e. Canon, Nikon, Profoto, Sony and Sigma) hosted lounge areas where they featured mini sessions by the worlds’ top photographers in their field.

I was impressed that there was so much to do and see in the expo itself. I felt that I needed one more day to go through all the exhibits thoroughly. The booth designs were grand and the staff were extremely helpful. Below I have listed my favorite vendors from the show that I signed up for.

The current website that I have is great but very limited. I am unable to configure it to my needs. Now that I have signed up for SHOWIT I have complete control over the layout and will be changing it. Look out for a new website launch in the near future! 

I fell in love with Graphi Studio's new album the Go Book. Not only is the price extremely affordable, the quality of the albums are incredible. Graphi Studio is a trusted Italian album binding company servicing many wedding photography studios.  It amazes me how they are able to offer this high quality album at such a low price. Check out Graphi Studio.

At the end of my first day I was tired and ready to head back to my hotel. On my way out I was stopped by another vendor at Pixellu. An album design software was the last thing I was looking for but after the live demo I could not help but purchase it. In the past I have tried other popular design software (I am not going to name any names) and was not impressed with any of them. Instead I decided to struggle with each album company's different and highly annoying software. Each had its quirks but I dealt with them. Now I do not need to spend endless hours trying to design an album. Pixellu Smart Albums allows me to select which album company I wish to use to bind my album. The software is seamless and intuitive. All you need is a 10 minute crash course and you will be cranking out albums in no time. I love the ease of using one platform to create an album that can be used in conjunction with various album companies.

I have been meaning to try out a company that offers slideshows. Magisto allows photographers to creatively tell the story of a wedding day. The software allows you to create a video comprised of a variety of images and videos. The end result: a slideshow that your client can easily share with their friends, family, and on social media. I have to play around with it a bit more but I can already tell I am going to love this product.

WPPI is a great place to find discounts on hot ticket items such as lighting equipment ( I really wanted an Ice Light :) I took full advantage of the deals and purchased equipment from MagMod and Peak Design. I first saw the MagMod flash modifiers used in a presentation by Pye from Lin & Jirsa Photography ( MagMod you can thank Pye for my purchase). After a quick demonstration I bought the MagMod basic kit. I was sold on the ease and functionality of this product. Once you get your hands on this you will never want to deal with another gel kit again. Best part about it was that they shipped it directly to my house.

I discovered Peak Design by wandering the trade show floor. Their lens changing system, the capture lens, is a game changer. This will cut down on the time it takes me to change my lens while shooting and that is why I bought it!

Overall I learned from every experience at the conference. I know that I will be signing up for numerous photowalks, sitting front row at the print competition, and spending more time on the expo floor.  I am overjoyed that I finally made it to WPPI and cannot wait to attend it next year!