WPPI Recap: Education, Events and More
by Art P. Suwansang
Art P. Suwansang
May 01, 2012 —
Photographers from around the world gather every year in Las Vegas to network with their peers, make new contacts and see new products from various vendors. Most importantly, they’re there to learn from the best 180-plus speakers this industry has to offer. Welcome to the Wedding and Portrait Photographer International, or WPPI as it is known—an association that started as a small family operation and has grown tremendously over the years, outdoing itself every time.
As usual, the weeklong event focused on education, as well as fun, and included several different tracks and levels of classes, industry events and yes, lots of parties. This year, the convention kicked off with WPPI Plus classes, where attendees spent two full days dedicated to learning from a skilled presenter in a workshop setting. Other attendees opted for a two-day learning extravaganza at WPPI University (or WPPI U), designed specifically for emerging photographers to learn business, marketing and technical skills. Here, attendees had the opportunity to learn from some of the top photographers in the business, including Lindsay Adler, Sal Cincotta, Julieanne Kost, Tamara Lackey, Sue Bryce, Jerry Ghionis, Tim Meyer, Tony Corbell, Doug Gordon, Craig Heidemann, Jerry Deck and Sondra Ayers and Joe Buissink.
This year’s convention went into high gear on Sunday, February 19th, and continued through Thursday, February 23rd, with a variety of classes taught by an international group of speakers. There are three categories of classes—the Master Class, where the group is smaller and limited to 50 people (usually sold out during the presale); the Platform Class, where information is presented to a larger audience; and the Spanish Platform classes for Spanish-speaking attendees. There are a large range of programs, including technical classes that focus on lighting and camera work; business-driven classes; post production and software usage; and inspirational classes where attendees leave with an upbeat feeling, ready to take on the world of photography. Speakers this year included portrait photographer Sue Bryce, Catherine Hall, speaking on social media as a marketing tool, Bob and Dawn Davis on lighting and posing, Jose Villa on wedding photography, Jared Platt on Lightroom usage, and 180 other speakers who offered attendees information and ideas to take home to their businesses.
Celebrating with Parties
All work and no play can make learning rather dull and hey, we were in Las Vegas! To get the energy flowing, there was a party or event every night, starting on Sunday with Kevin Kubota’s Photographers Ignite, where both experienced and up-and-coming photographers demonstrated cool techniques, trends, ideas and inspiration in 5-minute spots. This 3rd annual program was a huge success, like the ones before it. After that, the band “Full Frame Boogie” took the stage and the audience migrated to the dance floor! The band was sponsored by Nik Software and featured photographers Tony Corbell, Jerry Ghionis, Robert Hughes and Jay Goldman, plus Nik Software’s Josh Haftel and Rangefinder account executive Dennis Tyhacz.
Two more nights of fun followed during the week—the Sony Shootout, and the ‘80s party sponsored by Canon. The last event was the Awards Ceremony, hosted by Nikon, to honor print and album competition winners and recognize outstanding colleagues. Among the highlights this year were the WPPI Motivation & Leadership award given to Doug Gordon, and the Nikon Photographer of the Year award presented to Cliff Mautner.
Tradeshow & Products
There were over 320 vendors showcasing their products during a three-day span this year at the tradeshow. Photographers were given hands-on, unlimited access to new equipment and products, providing an excellent opportunity to check out products before making purchases. The tradeshow also gave the attendees a chance to get their questions answered by the people who know these products best. At the WPPI Launch Pad—which took place the day before tradeshow opened—photographers were given a sneak peek at the latest and greatest products exhibitors had to offer. Some of the notable vendors who participated were Bay Photo, H&H Photo Lab, White House Custom Color, Zenfolio, Triple Scoop Music, SmugMug, Photobiz, Vision Art and B & H Photo.
Print And Album Competitions
The closing of the WPPI convention showcased the best photographers’ work, acknowledging them for their imagery accomplishments with the Awards of Excellence 16 x 20 Print Competition and Album Competitions. These are two of the biggest and definitely the most prestigious international photographic competitions for wedding and portrait photographers. Creative artists from around the world submitted their images or albums to these competitions for judging and feedback from an international panel of 50 judges, including Ken Sklute, David Anthony Williams, Dennis Orchard, Greg Gibson, David Beckstead, Rick Ferro, Bambi Cantrell and Christian Lalonde.
SAVE THE DATE: Yes, there’s something for everyone at WPPI, and this 32nd annual event has proven to be one of the biggest and best yet. We’re already looking forward to the 2013 WPPI, scheduled for March 7–14 (trade show March 11–13), so mark your calendars!
Art Suwansang is an award-winning, international wedding photographer, educator and lecturer based in Southern California. He also consults for multiple photographers and companies internationally, and offers digital photography tutorials through his new Web site, Rule of 3Rds www.Ro3Rds.com. He is also an adjunct professor at University of La Verne and Santa Monica College.
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