Overheard at WPPI 2010…

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.
  • Doug Gordon begins his program with everyone singing and dancing to YMCA. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld

    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.

Photographer Jules Bianchi (r.) is interviewed at the Pictage booth. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld

Photographer Huy Nguyen (r.) of F8 Studios speaks at the ProDPI booth. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld

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.


Impressions of PhotoPlus Expo 2009

Having just recouped from three days of attending the PDN PhotoPlus Expo (www.photoplusexpo.com), held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in NYC, I thought I’dlogo_main share my impressions of the show. PhotoPlus is designed for professionals in the photographic and imaging industries, and showcases the latest in photography. October 22-24, 2009 marked the 26th consecutive year of the show.  This year there were a number of companies that chose not to exhibit, including Fujifilm, Pentax, The MAC Group, Calumet, and Adobe. However I didn’t feel that made a big difference in attendance. There were also a number of new companies to the industry showing product for the first time.

Although no registration figures have been released yet—I felt the show was well attended. You see, for someone who has attended dozens of tradeshows over the last 10 years, I judge the attendance on the tradeshow floor by how easily one can navigate through the aisles. If you’ve got to weave among other attendees and stop often to wait for others to let you through, then its pretty crowded. If you can easily and quickly walk the show, then its not that crowded. Well, I’m pleased to say that even though we’re in the middle of a recession, PhotoPlus Expo 2009 was well attended—all three days. Normally the show which is held Thursday through Saturday is more well attended on the weekdays than on the Saturday, however this year there were just as many folks walking the tradeshow floor on Saturday as there were earlier.

In addition to the hundreds of exhibiting companies, over 100 special events, seminars and hands-on workshops were held over the three days of the show. Topics ran the gamut from portrait/wedding, commercial/editorial, lighting, marketing and business, Photoshop and color management, and more.

Stay tuned to the Picture Soup blog for more from PhotoPlus Expo 2009.

[By the way, if you want to put next year's dates in your calendar now, PhotoPlus Expo 2010 will be held Thursday, October 28 - Saturday, October 30, 2010.]

— Diane Berkenfeld


9/11/01: We Will Never Forget

Today is September 3rd… only eight more days until the 8th anniversary of 9/11/01. Every September since that day, I turn to photographs to remember—to never forget—what happened at the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and in the air above Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

I think its because the photographs and video taken on that day are such tangible reminders, along with the memories burned into the psyches of anyone who remembers viewing the events of that day. For days afterward, all I could do was turn on the TV and watch and re-watch the news footage over and over.

So many photographers were on hand that day, and for days and weeks afterwards, recording what they saw—to share with the world. The New York Times, LIFE magazine, and others all published collections of photographs from 9/11.

I thought I would share some of the books I am drawn to each September.

We must never forget…

— Diane Berkenfeld

Here is New York

Here is New York was an impromptu collection of images taken by photojournalists, witnesses and everyday New Yorkers who were affected in some way. Originally hung in a Soho gallery, the collection of images were eventually made into a book and traveling exhibition. The website still houses an extensive collection of gallery of photos and audio recordings. Website: hereisnewyork.org

Faces of Ground Zero

Faces of Ground Zero, Portraits of the Heroes of September 11, 2001 is a book of images by professional photographer Joe McNally. The portraits were photographed by the one-of-a-kind Polaroid McNally had access to. The camera measured 12-feet by 16-feet. McNally photographed survivors, policemen, firemen, volunteers, doctors, nurses, and children.

New York September 11

New York September 11 is a collection of photographs by 11 Magnum Photographers. Those 11 pros were in New York City that day, in the middle of a routine monthly meeting. In addition to images captured after the attacks on the World Trade Center, the book includes some images of the Twin Towers that Magnum photographers had taken over the last quarter century. Website: magnumphotos.com


Brotherhood edited by Tony Hendra, came from the shrines and monuments that New Yorkers created to honor the fallen firefighters. These impromptu creations arose outside many of the city’s firehouses on 9/11 and continued to grow for some time. The names of each firefighter who lost his life on 9/11 is listed at the bottom of each page of the book; so that the list is repeated three times.

Above Hallowed Ground

Above Hallowed Ground: A Photographic Record of September 11, 2001 by the photographers of the New York Police Department, is a unique book in that the images were taken by members of the NYPD who had access most news photographers did not. Images include arial photographs, photos taken inside the Twin Towers before the collapse, as well as the aftermath.

The September 11 Photo Project

The September 11 Photo Project was put together by Michael Feldschuh, who was moved to do something to honor those who lost their lives. Feldschuh was able to garner a donated space to exhibit the images of thousands of everyday New Yorkers who found themselves recording the events of 9/11 and the days following. Along with the photographs, some contributors included text. The book is a collection of some of those images and texts. A traveling exhibition was also put together.


Why Photographers Need to Stay in School

I want to quote part of an article entitled Education Never Stops by Skip Cohen, president of Marketing Essentials International, that was printed in the June 2009 issue of Rangefinder Magazine.

“‘Years ago at a Nick Vedros seminar, I sat down next to Don Blair, who was 71 years old at the time and still recognized as one of the leading portrait photographers in America. I was shocked to notice Don feverishly taking notes on some of Nick’s lighting techniques. ‘Don’t you know this stuff already?’ I teased. ‘Are you kidding?’ he said, ‘This guy is giving me a ton of new ideas!’”

Wow. I knew what a wonderful teacher, mentor, and inspiration “Big Daddy”? a.k.a. Don Blair has been to hundreds, probably thousands of photographers in his career but I hadn’t assumed he attended the classes given by others. I figured, when you got to the pinnacle of your career you never looked back. I was wrong.

What amazes me then, is, if such a photographic icon as Don Blair realized at the age of 71 that he would benefit by continuing his education—then why don’t pros half his age (at that time) realize this?

I can’t tell you how many photographers I’ve met who think they know it all, who think there’s nothing left for them to learn, who think themselves above their peers.

Till the day you die, you’ll find yourself presented with new things you never knew before—business and marketing tips, capture and post production techniques. Only you can decide you want to refine your vision, re-craft your techniques, renew your enthusiasm for photography—by educating yourself. Whether it’s self-exploration or seminars and workshops—even opening a book and trying what you’ve read—all of these things can and will lead you to become a better photographer or a better businessman or woman.

There are a wonderful myriad of educational opportunities… just look at some that I’ve come across:

  • Long Island Photo Workshop – August 3-6, 2009 – Smithtown, NY – Instructors are Vincent Versace, Dave Black, Gary Small, Fay Sirkis, Janice Wendt, and Hanson Fong – www.liphotoworkshop.com.
  • Skip’s Summer School – August 16-19, 2009 – Las Vegas, NV – Instructors are Bambi Cantrell, Skip Cohen, Tony Corbell, Ron Dawson, Robert Evans, Jim Garner, Jerry Gihonis, Mitche Graf, Matt Hill, Kevin Kubota, Charles and Jennifer Maring, Dane Sanders, and Ken Sklute – www.mei500.com.
  • There are dozens of PPA affiliated workshops and one day seminars offered throughout the year. Check the website at www.ppa.com for more.
  • Renegade Photo Shoots are unique and different Photo Edu-Experiences. Recent Renegade Shoots earlier this year included City Shoots, Shoot with the Stars, Sip and Shoot – look for more events to be announced soon –  www.renegade-pr.com
  • Like to fly? Check this one out – September 27-30, 2009 – Half Moon Bay, CA – Instructors are Dirk Karsten and Chris Golson – A photo workshop set in the San Francisco Bay Area that will include a photo shoot aboard a Zeppelin in flight and trekking through an ancient cedar forest – www.chrisgolson.com/workshop
  • Sandy (Sam) Puc’ leads many workshops during the year – check her website for dates and locations – http://samspros.com
  • Eddie Tapp – Workshop in Iceland – August 16-22, 2009 – Check the website for other seminars and workshops as well – www.eddietapp.com
  • Antartica with Art Wolfe – Nov. 30-Dec. 10, 2010 – Check the website for other workshops as well – www.artwolfe.com
  • Santa Fe Workshops www.santafeworkshops.com
  • Palm Beach Photographic Workshops – www.workshop.org
  • Lepp Institue Workshops – www.leppphoto.com
  • Maine Media Workshops – multiple dates throughout the year – www.theworkshops.com
  • Barnstorm – Eddie Adams Workshop – Oct. 9-12, 2009 – (portfolio review required to be selected to attend)www.eddieadamsworkshop.com
  • National Geographic Photography Expeditions – offered throughout the year – check website for locations around the world and dates – www.nationalgeographicexpeditions.com/triptypes/photography

Tradeshows that also offer educational sessions:

  • PhotoPlus Expo – October 22-24, 2009– NY, NY – www.photoplusexpo.com
  • WPPI – Mar. 4-11, 2010 – Las Vegas, NV – www.wppionline.com; and this year WPPI goes on the road to four cities throughout 2009. Check the website for exact dates.
  • Imaging USA – Jan. 10-12, 2010 – Nashville, TN – www.imagingusa.org
  • PMA – Feb. 21-23, 2010 – Anaheim, CA – www.pmai.org

Can’t afford to travel? Webinars allow you to sit at your computer and learn. Most are Free. Webinars include:

  • Webinar Wednesdays (as of this writing, dates are set for the summer) – Kevin Kubota – www.kubotaimagetools.com/webinar_schedule.html
  • The Bogen Café series of free webinars cover a variety of photographic topics. An upcoming webinar is Adventure Sports Photography: Round Table with Adventure Photographer Michael Clark – Friday, July 17, 2009, 2- 3pm EDT – www.bogenimaging.us/webinar/
  • Artistry Webinars with Corel Painter Master Karen Sperling where you learn how to turn photos into paintings using Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter – www.artistrymag.com

This is just the tip of the iceberg. My point is, whatever your photographic niche, educational opportunities abound. Open your eyes and mind and your experiences will last long after these events are over.

Diane Berkenfeld

• Big Daddy was the nickname that Don Blair, who passed away a few years ago, had. He will be fondly remembered by all those, including myself, who knew and learned from him.