WPPI is an annual wedding and portrait photography conference and trade show held at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, where more than 13,000 photographers from over 70 countries attend every year. WPPI offers a week of topic-specific classes and a trade show with the newest and hottest gadgets. This was my second year attending the convention and it was a blast! I have a lot to say… so here it goes… And make sure to check out the photos shot at the Red Rock Canyon in Vegas at the bottom of this post 🙂
Tips on how to get the most out of the WPPI photography conference:
- Don’t pay full price for registration or hotel: Some people are intimidated when they think about how much it will cost to go to WPPI, but if you work the system right, it can end up being around $500-600 (depending on how much you eat out) for the entire trip. See more about staying in a hotel for cheap and saving money on food in the next bullet points.
- Stay at the MGM Signature Towers: This year I found the best deal for staying at WPPI on Black Friday for the MGM Signature Suites. Even if you can find better rates at “close-by” hotels, you will be happy you stayed at MGM because of how much walking you will already be doing. We got two, king-size bed suites with pullout couches and split the cost between eight of us so it was dirt cheap, like around $100 each! And they have kitchenette’s so you can store all of your food in the fridge and drawers and use a microwave (see next point). And you get access to the MGM Grand lazy river and pools and plus they have amazing views of Las Vegas.
- Pack non-perishable foods from home and make the grocery store your first stop in Vegas: After you get off the plane, take a cab to your hotel (and share with others to save mulah), empty out your suitcase, then either walk (if the weather is nice, but it’ll be about a 30 minute walk to the nearest grocery store) or just take a cab to the grocery store to buy ingredients for breakfast, lunch, and snacks and pack it all in your suitcase. Some things I brought with me from home last year were condiment packets (ketchup, mustard, mayo, sugar, salt, pepper), peanut butter, strawberry jelly, oatmeal packets, cereal, cracker snack packs, granola/protein bars, mixed nuts, ziploc bags, plastic knives, applesauce cups, and a water bottle. Items I purchased once we got there were water bottles, bananas, cheese slices, deli meat, bread, milk, chips, cream cheese, bagels, eggs, orange juice, baby carrots/broccoli mix, and sour cream to mix with Fiesta Ranch dip packet. We seriously save TONS of money on meals by making everything in the hotel and bringing our lunches with us, instead of eating out. For dinner we pretty much ate at a restaurant, which is fun and a good experience to try new places in Vegas or on the strip.
- Listen to the featured speakers at the trade show: Even if your not registered for the platform classes, you can often get a free pass into the conference expo from one of the vendors. Several speakers who present for the paid registration classes will be sponsored speakers at vendor booths (including WHCC, Miller’s, Pro DPI, GraphiStudio, and many others) and I’ve learned that they often give a shorter version of the same information as their platform class.
- Walk the trade show floor, find new vendors, and look for discounts with current vendors: This is a great opportunity to look for new equipment and album/print companies, and see up-close the products and quality they offer. Many vendors will also offer trade show specials only good during the duration of the expo. Some vendors will have special “gifts” if you are one of the first hundred or so to visit their booth when the expo opens, sometimes they will advertise it on their Facebook pages or in the mobile WPPI app. I am definitely one of those people who tries to get everything free, I’ll even leave my class a few minutes early so I can make sure I’m first in line at the expo grand opening. If you are in the market for something specific from a company, make sure to stop by their booth to see if they offer any discounts on things you might be purchasing anyways. If you are waiting until the last day to purchase your products (because you just don’t want to lug your purchases around to classes or you are deciding if you actually need the items… lol), keep in mind that the expo ends a day or two before the last day of the actual classes, so be mindful of when the expo ends so you don’t end up disappointed.
- Get your camera equipment clean and checked for free: I’m a Canon user, so I can’t speak for Nikon, but if you are a gold or platinum Canon Professional Services (CPS) member, you can get two items cleaned and checked for free, I usually bring a camera body and a lens. Make sure to register your serial numbers on the CPS website prior to going to save time in line. And if you don’t have a CPS membership, it’s only $100/year for the gold membership and you can purchase it at the conference, where you’ll get a bonus two clean and check coupons just for signing up. It is usually on the first floor outside the trade show. Drop it off anytime during the first day to ensure it gets done before you leave. And be mindful of when they open (usually Monday morning, check the WPPI schedule) so your not waiting in a ridiculously long line, I’ve found that the afternoon has almost no line at all.
- Download the WPPI mobile app: This was the first year they offered a mobile app so it definitely had quite a few kinks, but when it did work, it was very useful. I found it most helpful when navigating the trade show floor in trying to find certain vendors I knew I wanted to visit, because it would tell you where to find their booth and you could also “star” the vendors to make sure you don’t forget to visit them. Also, the app was helpful in telling you which room to find your next class.
- Network like crazy and go to WPPI and non-WPPI parties: There is something to do every night keep a lookout on Twitter and people walking by for things to do. Canon and Sony usually have a big event that lasts a couple hours, I mostly just go to get free food and mingle, then move on to something more entertaining. The last two years I attended a party that has a different name each year, this year it was called Lazers & Blazers, where we they even made a harlem shake video! If you look closely, you can see me, I’m next to the first booth on the right. Don’t look too hard LOL. I heard that they weren’t going to be putting on any more parties in the future, but I hope I’m wrong. And if your not into the party scene, check out the coffee bars (or fro-yo!) in the MGM, where it’s a bit quieter and you can actually carry on conversations. Either way, jump out of your comfort zone and meet people!! Another tip is if you are friends with another photographer on facebook, make plans in advance to meet them at some point during the conference, it’s always nice to meet someone in person and not just “digitally.”
- Bring lots of business cards with you and don’t be afraid to meet people: Take advantage of meeting people sitting next to you in classes, while waiting in line, or out lounging at the pool. You never know whom you will have the opportunity to meet. Swap business cards and write a note on it where you met them, then when you get home friend them on Facebook and keep up with them. Then the next year you will have a whole bunch of friends you already know! Also, several speakers will have giveaways using collected business cards. On that note, if you don’t have Twitter, this is a good time to sign up for an account because some speakers will have prizes to those who tweet during their presentation. And random parties will be announced on Twitter too.
- Take notes during the classes and make sure to review them afterwards: Some people will bring a notebook and pen, but I personally can type A LOT faster than I write and I’m one of those people who pretty much transcribes workshops when I go to them, so I bring my iPad and Bluetooth keyboard and use the app Notability. I learn best when I hear information, then write/type it, but most importantly, reviewing my notes after the class, usually on the plane ride home. And then I will highlight sections and make a to-do list of things I plan on doing in the upcoming months and make sure I stick to it!
- Don’t bring your DSLR camera around to the classes and trade show: Use your phone to take photos of you and your friends, and also products at the trade show that you are interested in, to remember what they looked like. Your camera will just weigh you down and make your back hurt from carrying the weight.
- Before you leave, go through ALL the random pieces of paper you picked up at the trade show: You will pick up way more than you should, but instead of going through while at the expo, go through it in your hotel room the night before you leave and only keep papers/flyers you are interested in, otherwise your suitcase will pack on the pounds and you could end up paying excess luggage fees due to too much weight.
- Wear comfortable shoes: You will be walking EVERYWHERE, like a lot. You won’t look as cute as you intended after walking miles in heels. And bring different pairs of shoes so you can switch out shoes every other day to avoid rubbing the same places on your feet. Your welcome.
Now that I live a lot closer to Vegas, I will definitely be attending WPPI this next year especially to see all of my Kansas City friends!!
A large group of photographers from Kansas City rented a limo for about four hours and took it to Red Rock Canyon for a shootout and took pictures of each other. If you have the chance to get away from the strip and see the beauty that Las Vegas offers, I would highly recommend doing so. The red rocks were stunning and made for a perfect backdrop during this sunset shoot. And it certainly helped that I have such beautiful friends! My favorite part was practicing the Beloved technique with Mike and Julie and got some lovely, beautiful expressions from both of them and I love the silhouette at the end with the mountains.
[…] up in the running is the 2 Sues Bag by Kelly Moore. I met Kelly at WPPI several years ago and instantly fell in love with the look and feel of her camera […]
[…] up in the running is the 2 Sues Bag by Kelly Moore. I met Kelly at WPPI several years ago and instantly fell in love with the look and feel of her camera bags. They are […]
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