And so it begins. I leave tomorrow for one of the craziest weeks of the year – WPPI Convention in Las Vegas. WPPI is a conference for photographers of all kinds to come together and focus on bettering our craft, while also rubbing a few shoulders and…let’s be honest….having a TON OF FUN in Vegas. But WPPI isn’t all fun and games. It’s extremely tiring. It’s all too nerve-wracking. And there is a constant pull to be hanging out with the right people at the right parties all while wearing the right clothes.
But all that who’s-who is a bit too much for me. Because, truth be told, it’s not about what we do and how popular we are, but instead about who we are and whether or not we treat our clients like gold and continue to raise the bar for our industry. So in light of all the hype that surrounds this exciting convention, I decided to write a blog post about my top 10 pieces of advice for Vegas.
1. Shoes. I am SO preaching to myself with this one because this is, by far, the hardest point for me. Which is why I made it #1. So, truth be told, most of us photographers sit around in our pajamas all day while editing, culling, designing, and emailing. Sorry to bust that bubble you had of us being super cool all the time. If you ask us our favorite brands of clothing many of us will throw out names like J.Crew and Anthropologie, but the truth is that our wardrobe consists largely of VS PINK pants and American Eagle sweatshirts. Or maybe that’s just me? I think it’s pretty safe to say that many photographers wear pajamas (or workout clothes if you are the health conscious type) for most of the day. And this means only one thing: When we go out in public, we look GOOD. Like straight out of Vogue or Vanity Fair good. We get all Naomi and Giselle because, really, the rest of the time we feel a lot more like Michelle Duggar. Yup, I just went there. So what does this have to do with shoes? WPPI is our Milan Fashion week. We pull out all the stops with hair, makeup, braided headbands, cuffed blazers, and…shoes. Lots and lots of pretty shoes. And who of us female photographers doesn’t look better in adorable heels? At least this was my mindset the last time I went to WPPI. And at a mere 5’4, I need all the help I can get from my beloved heels. But I swore this year that I would not wear any heels except to the late night parties. Because when you walk what seems like MILES a day to get from one workshop to another, one restaurant to another, one hotel room to another…your feet start screaming bloody murder. Bottom line: Do yourself a favor and wear flats. Nobody will realize that you are 3 inches shorter than your preferred height, and your feet will thank you. Profusely.
2. Be yourself! Like I said in the start, there is a HUGE temptation at WPPI to want to rub shoulders with all the rockstar photographers, to want to be invited to all the hip exclusive parties, and to leave feeling like you did some incredible networking while there. If you go to WPPI doing this I can assure you that you will drive yourself insane, and feel like the bottom of the food chain by the time you leave. My advice: Be yourself! If you see someone that you admire, go say hello to them but just be you. Most photographers that I know who are going…even the really popular ones…are equally as nervous. So just be yourself, and be ok with that. If you don’t get invited to some super hip party, get a group of people that you know together and go out to dinner! There is no need to feel pressure. Just be yourself. 🙂
3. Pack snacks. WPPI is one crazy, non-stop party. There is ALWAYS something going on and it is so easy to hop from one thing to another that you forget to stop and eat in the middle of it all. Stock up on granola bars or protein bars to make sure that you have the energy to keep up with your crazy schedule! The last time I went I found that I would eat a light breakfast and often wouldn’t eat again until 7PM. And, unfortunately, Starbucks isn’t all that filling. Bring some snacks!
4. Emergen-C! The WPPI bug. It’s about as popular as Jasmine Star’s session, except that one is fun and the other isn’t. Head on over to Walmart and get yourself some Emergen-C. Take it once in the morning and once at night. Trust me, you’ll thank me later for this one!
5. Stay the MGM Signature. Once again, learning from my past mistakes, I am staying at the MGM Signature suites this time. Last time I stayed at the Tropicana which, although it is just across the street, it’s a 30 minute walk. When I left in the morning, i was gone for the day. By staying at the Signature suites you not only have a much easier commute, but you have a little kitchenette in your room as well as the luxury of staying with most other photographers at the conference. I’m super excited about staying there this year!
6. Bring a water bottle Vegas is dry as all get up, so staying hydrated is super important. I found that the last time was there I was parched most of the time. My handy little Naglene bottle will be in tow 100% of the time on this trip. 🙂
7. Have fun! It’s Vegas. Don’t be a wallflower and stay in your room. Get out there! Go to one of the parties (or one every night!!). Splurge on a restaurant or two. But make sure that you have FUN on this trip!
8. Pace yourself As I mentioned before, there is non-stop stuff happening in Vegas. Classes, parties, get-togethers, flashmob’s (but you didn’t hear that from me…), workshops, shoots outs….and it can all be VERY overwhelming. It is very possible to pack your schedule from 6AM-4AM every single day of WPPI. My advice is to pace yourself. Make a spreadsheet with a plan, but if you don’t make it to a certain class or party, don’t sweat it. Decide what it is that you want to get out of Vegas and focus on making sure that happens, but be ok with the fact that you won’t make it to everything!
9. Business cards Bring them. You’ll meet a ton of people who will want to check out your work so you’ll be handing them out left and right! And to take it a step further, write on the back where you met that person so that when they sift through 250 business cards at the end of the trip, they’ll remember exactly who you were because you wrote on there where you met them.
10. Lotion up! Yup. Vegas is dry, as we’ve already covered. So dry, in fact, that you feel as though you are shedding an extra layer of skin along with all those snakes in the deserts outside of Vegas. bring lotion and carry it with you all day!
If you are a photographer going to Vegas, I’d LOVE to meet you! I’ll be speaking on Tuesday morning at 8:30 at the Pursuit 31 morning get together and again on Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 on “The world as your venue” for the ShowIt conference. Would loooooove to meet some fo you there. And if your recognize me, PLEASE come give me a hug! 🙂