By Diane Berkenfeld
The WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Professionals International) 2010 (www.wppionline.com) conference and tradeshow celebrated its 30th year by once again attaining record-breaking attendance numbers and a sold out tradeshow. In addition to the hundred plus programs, 300+ exhibitors—thousands of attendees made the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino their home away from home from March 4 through 11. WPPI Plus classes began on March 4, platform programs began on March 7 and the tradeshow ran March 8-10, with the conference ending on March 11.
Program topics ran the gamut from business, marketing, Photoshop and digital workflow, lighting/posing, and Social Media. In addition to the programs run by WPPI, a number of the exhibitors held hour-long programs at their booths. These included Miller’s Lab, Kodak, Nikon, Canon, Sony, and many others—large and small. No matter where you turned, you were likely to learn something new.
With all of the programs to choose from, the more popular had lines of attendees waiting for the doors to open. A few of the presenters were given encore dates/times and asked to re-present their programs because there were so many folks who had to be turned away when the rooms hit capacity.
What’s Said in Vegas, Doesn’t Stay in Vegas…
I thought I’d share some of what I overheard while attending programs and lectures at exhibitor booths on the tradeshow floor.
- While in an elevator, admiring a shirt that read, “Film is not dead” I was told that all of the images on display at the Fujifilm booth were captured on film. A few days later I finally had the opportunity to check out these gorgeous, vibrant images and was not disappointed.
- At the Miller’s Lab booth, TriCoast Photography’s (www.tricoastphoto.com) Mike Fulton and Cody Clinton gave a presentation on one of the specialties they’re know for, Wireless TTL flash photography: Use your TTL flash for creative lighting. By setting the zoom on the flash more telephoto than your field of view, you’re in effect creating a focused, light that looks as if you’re using a snoot.
- Attending another talk at the Miller’s Lab booth, this one given by educator and web expert, Gloria Antonelli (http://gloriaantonelli.com):
- “Your website or blog is your home, and your Facebook/Twitter etc. accounts represent your vacation home.” —Gary Vaynerchuk
- And… Web 2.0 requires a regular workload in addition to the offline work you do in your business. Social media is a two way street. Communicate with your audience and community. Be a friend, and others will want to be your friend in return. If you’re too pushy, you’ll turn your followers off.
Attending Doug Gordon’s (www.patkenphotographer.com) program ‘Posing is Back and it is the New Black,’ the reason brides don’t want posed photographs is that they think it takes too long. Not true when you have a system. In the course of the two-hour talk, Doug was able to show attendees two hundred different poses for the bride and groom. His is a style of posed photojournalism. Yes, he takes the time to light and pose correctly, but he also finds the energy and passion in the moment and brings that out in his images.
- During the Canon sponsored Keynote, speaker Gregory Heisler (www.gregoryheisler.com) explained his philosophy behind taking pictures.
- He’ll always put himself in the position he’s going to ask his subject to take, because its important to him to know how they will feel while being photographed. He also explained that he’d never photograph someone in a way he himself wouldn’t want to be photographed in.
- And, even though he has finally migrated to 35mm DSLRs, Gregory still uses a cable release, because it gives him the ability to have a face to face conversation with his subject while taking pictures—which stems from when his experience shooting with large format view cameras that required this type of shooting.
- Vicki Taufer’s (www.vgallery.net and www.vgalleryhaven.com) program, ‘Unleashed,’ was all about her studio’s pet photography. One of the most important things she said was, “People are paying not only for photographs but for the experience.” Other photographers made the same statement, pointing out how your personality and the way you treat your clients is just as important as your photography skills. You are selling the experience of your photography, not just the images on pieces of paper.
- JB and DeEtte Sallee (www.salleephotography.com), speaking at the Kodak booth, talked about the importance of adding a “whopper” package to your line. While you may never sell this one, the next highest one won’t seem as high in comparison.
- In their presentation, ‘Creating Loyalty Beyond Reason’ first time WPPI speakers Justin and Mary Marantz (www.justinmarantz.com) mentioned some great business books:
- Kay Eskridge’s (www.imagesbykay.com and www.celebratesexy.com) program on boudoir photography was one of the more popular topics, with WPPI attendees lining up early to make sure they would get a seat.
- Kay, like many of the other program presenters uses royalty free music from Triple Scoop Music. “If you’re complaining about people copying your images and you’re not using royalty free music, you’re doing the same thing,” she said.
- It is imperative for male photographers to have a female associate/assistant present at all times during boudoir shoots. She suggested guys should also ask their clients to have a female friend at the shoot as well.
- And, backgrounds and props don’t always have to cost a lot of money. Kay showed how she has created backgrounds from wall panels found at Lowes, shower curtains and satin sheets from Bed Bath & Beyond, and doors and shutters painted in hot colors from Home Depot. Oh, and if you’re going to buy and use satin sheets—use flat not fitted sheets, and use a steamer to get out wrinkles.
- Lori Nordstrom (www.nordstromphoto.com) presented a business program that was filled with inspiration—for the photographer [read: artist] to understand that their studio is a business and needs to be run that way to be profitable. Some of what Lori discussed:
- Ask for referrals, and for each one, give your current clients a small gift.
- Be charitable, its good for you and your business.
- You may have to handhold clients to help them, but they’ll appreciate this customer service—and the experience you provide.
There were a number of first time exhibitors at the tradeshow, as well as established companies showing brand new products and services, which is exciting, as it shows the growth in the industry.
Look for the wrap-up article of great new products and services to be posted on picture-soup.com soon.