WPPI Conference Review

As we said last year, Let’s be clear here, WPPI is not for everyone. But there isn’t larger confluence of industry related speakers, vendors, products and services anywhere on earth.  Taking place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas every March, WPPI is an event that allows a photographer at almost any stage in their career, come away with some kind of benefit. What benefit that is, ENTIRELY DEPENDS on the preparation and goals of the individual.

So let’s get to the review criteria listed:


It is impossible for us to give an honest critique of any speakers we saw. Because we didn’t see any. I spent my time either in the print competition, (more on that later) and the trade show floor. However, we spoke with many people who did actually see speakers and the general vibe was that WPPI did a good job of  mostly getting the overt sales message out of the classes. The WPPI App allowed attendees to give instant feedback on the classes. I know that they use that feedback to improve the quality of the speakers and their programs. If you’re reading this, were there, and have the App, LEAVE A REVIEW.

One notable exception was the apparent lack of differing viewpoints in the “Shoot and Share” Panel discussion. Apparently the moderator and all the panelists (from what I was told) were from one side of this conversation. I would posit, that if the original intent of this highly controversial discussion couldn’t have been met, it should have been scrapped altogether. Although I cannot imagine the difficulty of monitoring all of these different programs.

Trade Show:

Bigger and better.  Is that oversimplifying it? I hope not, because there’s not a lot that I would have changed here. The booth were more numerous and of a generally higher quality. The people that spoke on the booths all delivered quality information. It made me carefully check schedules and make sure I was in the right place at the right time.

There are still some companies that haven’t figured out that we want and need to touch and feel their products. And some of those same companies sorely need to update their booths.

Anyone else who attended the trade show can vouch for this comment though. How many electronic massage device vendors do you need at one show? I’m not sure how many were there, but it felt like that every aisle had one. I’m not shocking myself in the name of relaxation thank you very much.

One thing I liked this year, was that not every single booth was asking me to scan my badge. I must have unsubscribed from 200 mailing lists last year within a month of leaving Las Vegas.

Networking and Parties:

With 10′s of thousands of fellow industry professionals in one place, have business cards, be friendly (I’m Canadian, so that comes easy) and be prepared to listen to what others have to offer. From vendors, to potential sponsors, to speaker contacts, the BEST business gets done after hours at the various social functions.

From the Bay Photo/Canon Party at Hakkasan, to the nightly gathering at Rouge. The networking opportunities are boundless! But, and a big but here, you get out what you put in. Late nights are part and parcel of the week.

One of my highlights of a few nights hanging out at Rouge, was a quick chat with George Varanakis of CreativeLive. I’m friends with George on Facebook, but had yet to meet him face to face. He’s one of those people with a great attitude that makes you feel like you’ve known him for awhile.

Always check with your suppliers to see what social/networking opportunities they are offering. There are many fabulous get-togethers happening in  various suites almost every night. Invite a group of photographers you know for dinner outside the convention hotel. Pick their brain and get some information. But try to offer some too. THIS is networking.

Print Competition: 

Kudos Kudos and More Kudos to the print competition team. I sat through almost 2 full days of judging in various categories, and probably learned as much about outstanding imagery as I could have from any speaker. Thank you to the folks at WPPI for making it so accessible. And I cannot recommend highly enough that if you are attending WPPI, you set some serious time aside to check the judging out. Two categories that I probably enjoyed most were “In Camera Artistry” and “Creative/Compositing”. Once you’ve sat through the judging, MAKE SURE you walk through the gallery of prints that are hanging. There is some outstanding imagery to be seen.

Quick note to the WPPI Crew though. The hallway that the prints were hanging in, was so poorly lit, that many outstanding images could not be properly viewed. I was using the flashlight on my iPhone to see many of them. Please fix that for next year. Please.

Other Stuff:

The WPPI app is almost finished. If you folks at WPPI  can have your developer actually allow the agenda to transfer to the calendar on the smartphone, it would be appreciated. Either I’m a technological idiot, or that wasn’t working.

All in all I enjoyed my too brief visit to Vegas for WPPI. I made the wise decision to spend a bit more and stay at the MGM. That helped greatly. One thing I really really really really (is that enough really’s?) liked, is that there was cell service pretty much everywhere! My smartphone battery lasted for a good chunk of every day, unlike last year.

As mentioned in last years review, the lack of WPPI sanctioned shooting opportunities is a miss for me. If this could be added for a future conference, I think it could be another revenue generator for them.

Although Jason Groupp is the most public face involved in the huge undertaking that is WPPI, and he is HUGELY responsible for the positive changes at the Conference, we want to express our thanks to everyone involved. We will most definitely be back next year.


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