It's been over a week since the first attendees arrived in Vegas for the 2014 WPPI Conference + Expo, and so much has happened between then and now that we thought it only appropriate to take a look back.
The early birds enjoyed hands-on master classes covering various aspects of wedding and portrait photography. For many, though, the trade show was just as important, especially since so many exhibitors gave hands-on demonstrations of their equipment or software. The three-day trade show ended Wednesday afternoon and it offered an alphabet of resources, from Acme Camera Rentals to Zookbinders. As one would expect, it was the ABCs that seemed to draw the most crowds: Albums, Bags and Cameras.
Dan Havlik has covered some of the new cameras, such as the first showing in the US of the Nikon D4S and the Hasselblad H5D-50c, so I spent the past three days roaming the two halls getting the bigger picture.
The buzz? This was the year for photo booths. I literally lost count of how many companies were displaying photo booths, which ranged from simple setups in a box such as Photobooth Supply Co, to chic looking ones like the Snapden Firefly, to extravagant ones like Ugly Duck Photo Booths, which had a setup that could probable double as a carnival puppet show. Needless to say, the kids loved it.
Despite the growth of camera phones and selfies, it would seem there is a growing and profitable market for those who want to venture into the photo booth market. These are mostly portable—some more than others—that enable enterprising wedding and event photographers to add value and excitement to their services. This is a growing creative venture (you can even create your own slow-motion photo booth) that will certainly stick around for a while.
You may not have heard of DNP, a maker of dye-sub printers, but it seemed as if its printers were being used by most of the photo booth makers. DNP had their own booth where they were encouraging photographers who shoot higher volume “snapshots,” if you will, to check out their more affordable dye-sub printers.
At CES in January, Canon had a room behind glass where visitors could watch technicians repairing cameras and lenses. Sony and Panasonic joined the bandwagon at WPPI with repair technicians working at their booths, and it was quite a draw. Canon also had additional technicians offering servicing and repairs for members of CPS, while Nikon welcomed NPS members in an adjoining room.
Speaking of repairs, DriveSavers, the company that nobody ever wants to use, told me they had several photographers come by and tell them, “You saved my life,” by retrieving photos from a dead hard drive or bad memory card. Naturally they tell everyone to backup data, but if you don't and you lose those irreplaceable images, DriveSavers can retrieve them for you.
It appeared to me, rightly or wrongly, that there were fewer companies displaying editing software this year. Having said that, OnOne Software was an established company that was demonstrating its products, and not far away, newcomer MacPhun, a Ukrainian company producing some great editing tools for Mac users, was drawing crowds as well—many of its US-based people are ex-Nikon employees with an appreciation for what wedding photographers need.
Shootdotedit told me that more and more photographers are having their images edited by outside companies such as theirs. They now offer a service where a photographer can have an unlimited number of photos edited for a flat monthly fee of $279. We'll see if this picks up.
There were plenty of companies offering studio management software, album design software and online services. Website building companies continue to be an important service, and among these, mopro had one of the largest yet simplest booths; it contained nothing much besides several rows of iMac computers where attendees could sit down and try out the service and sign up on the spot.
Judging from the number of people complaining of sore feet, the trade show was a success. The floor was crowded (but not too crowded) all three days, and vendors seemed pleased with the responses. I certainly saw plenty of photographers leaving at the end of each day with bags and boxes of purchased products.
Look for a more comprehensive trade show report in the May issue of Rangefinder.