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how to survive WPPI


How to Survive WPPI: Part 1: Prep


It’s almost February. Which means a couple of things.

1) My birthday is coming soon.

2) WPPI is almost here.

This will be the fourth time I’ve gone. It’s always such a fun few days (and exhausting!), but I know that for a first-timer it can be intimidating and overwhelming. What? Just me? Well, even if you’re not intimated by large groups of people that you don’t know, these are my tips for getting prepped for WPPI, and if you’re a Showiteer, Showit United.

1. Bring Business Cards – even if you don’t have a business card, have some made. You can get 1000 business cards printed at for $10. You can also get less, like 250 for $8. Worth the investment? I think so. It’s cheaper than a “cheap” meal in Vegas. No excuses! Plus, you can use your extras to canvas your local Chipotles and enter for a free burrito. Well, maybe that’s just me.

2. Make a plan, but be flexible. I remember my first year. I wanted to do everything. See everything. Be everything. Of course, that’s totally not realistic, but when you’re excited anything seems possible right? And, I must note, there are three general camps when it comes to WPPI: those who are there to learn, those who are there to party, and those who are there to learn and party. I like to think that I fall into the third category. I like to party, but I also like to learn. And I like to sleep. I’m one of those rare people (my age!) who actually sleeps most of a full night while in Vegas. I like to plan out what classes to check out, but I’m okay if I end up running into a friend (or new friend, you’ll make lots of those) and we grab a bite or end up chatting away. Making connections with people is the best part about WPPI. The classes are great too, but having friends who can help you will definitely go farther in the long run.

via Travelista

3. Pack Light – I was Googling “how to pack light” a couple of months ago because I fall into one of two categories: packing SO light that I forget something or overpacking and the suitcase is bursting. I highly recommend packing light. Las Vegas is in the desert and it’s super dry. You’ll constantly feel thirsty and your skin will get itchy (okay, again, that may just be me), so be sure to dress in layers. It’s February, but in between walking through the casino, the tradeshow, and hanging out with people, you will get hot, cold, and maybe even a little sweaty. Check out this AWESOME post by Travelista.

4. Comfortable Shoes. I don’t know about you, but I value the comfort of me feet. I take it seriously. To all those who can rock out the heels all day, more power to you. I, on the other hand, cannot. I’m all about comfortable shoes. Especially if you’re logging at least a 2 mile trek everyday you are there. I don’t want my feet to hate me. Of course, there are parties and events, so be sure to pack shoes you can wear for a dressier event. But for walking the tradeshow – comfort is key.

5. Bring a Point & Shoot – Unless you are planning on taking a workshop, or know that you WILL USE your big, fancy camera, don’t feel the need to bring it. I recommend a point & shoot. But if you’re like me, REMEMBER TO BRING THE CAMERA BATTERY. In 2010, I totally brought my camera. But I did not bring the camera battery. Packing fail. Of course, with the way that cameras are now on the iPhone and Droids, you may not even need the point and shoot, but when it’s dark, the flash on a P&S is better. The thing about a Point & Shoot is that it’s way more portable than your DSLR, and when you run into friends at a party, you can snap a quick picture, like so:

With my friends from college & photographers, Daniel & Vaness Galang

photo from 2009 with David Jay

last year 2011, catching up with photographer friends from California!

6. Stay at the Signature Suites (not the MGM) – This is actually the first year that I’m staying at the Signature, but for the last two years, I have known how awesome it is. It is still part of the MGM Hotel family, but there are some great perks.

  1. It’s smoke-free. You don’t have to walk through clouds of stale smoke to make it back to your room.
  2. It’s casino-free. If you’re a non-gambler like me, you won’t have to walk through the windowless labyrinth.
  3. It’s closer to the conference center. And there are moving sidewalks to help you get there. In 2010, I had my Nike+ tracker in my shoes, and the walk from the conference center (where classes and the tradeshow are) to my room in the MGM was about .75 miles. A round trip was 1.5 miles! Crazy.
  4. Kitchens & kitchenettes. Food in Vegas is expensive. It’s easy to go to Vegas on the cheap, but nourishing yourself, not so cheap. I love that I’ll have a little fridge (the one-bedrooms have a full kitchen) to keep some things to eat.

7. Bring a water bottle. This was one of the BEST decisions I made last year. And saved me so. much. money. I’m a huge fan of water. And actually, I’m okay with drinking tap water. However, Las Vegas has some of the gnarliest tap water I’ve tasted. It tastes like metal. But, in the conference area hallways, the hotel has cold water dispensers, filled frequently by hotel staff (NOTE: I’m not talking about water fountains, though, those would work too). I filled up whenever I passed by and never had to buy bottled water. It was awesome. My wallet totally thanked me. You can thank me later. :) Purchase one on Amazon.

Next time, I’ll share how this introvert (yes, me!) went to WPPI with strangers.

I hope this helps! And if you have other tips, leave them in the comments!

For even more tips, check out Karen Stott’s post!


WPPI and some joie de vivre…


Tomorrow, I take off for a couple of days to Las Vegas for WPPI, Wedding and Portrait Photographers International, the largest photographer’s convention. Imagine being in the thick of things with 10,000+ other colleagues who love the same thing as you, photography! Last year was my first time to go and I learned a lot of things which have helped me prepare better for this year.

  • Wear comfortable shoes. Seriously. The MGM Grand is ginormous. I believe my Nike+ pedometer recorded that it was about 1/2 mile from the hotel rooms down to the conference center, one way. If you don’t wear comfortable shoes, you may want to hack off your feet, just sayin’.
  • Bring water. Go to Walgreens or 7/11 and stock up on water. The desert is dry and the casinos are smoky. I actually learned this the first time I went to Vegas (when Cent proposed!), and you probably don’t want to pay $8 for minibar bottle water. I wouldn’t.
  • Look at the speaker schedule ahead of time. You won’t be able to do everything, so pick out the speakers you absolutely must see and a couple of backups, in the event that there’s no room to sit. It happens. So if you’re going to a really popular presentation, get there early!
  • Make a list of gear that you want to see. Figure out what your budget is beforehand, and stick to it. The tradeshow is HUGE and the deals are AWESOME, so it’s easy to buckle under the temptation to buy, buy buy! But if you have a plan for what you can buy, you’ll leave Vegas with more money in your pocket.
  • Bring cash with you. What I mean is, the casinos have ATMs, but as I learned last year, it’s a $200 minimum withdrawal. Plus the “convenience” fee. So I advise withdrawing cash at home and bringing that…if you’re rolling with cash that is. Of course, you probably don’t want to advertise that you’re packing a couple hundred or thousand (whatever the case may be…)
  • Bring a point & shoot. If you’re going to any of the parties, (and you should be!) you probably don’t want to be lugging around your big camera…because it’s not exactly pocket sized. But you’ll want memories with all your new friends! So bring a P&S.
  • If you have a SmartPhone, start using Twitter. There are a bunch of companies doing giveaways and the info is being given out on Twitter. Last year, I didn’t have my iPhone yet, so I got mobile updates from friends and from the contests…and I’d have 18349251 text messages a day. It was hard to keep up! Go ahead, start tweeting. For more information about Twitter and how to tweet, check out this post.
  • Don’t be afraid to say hello. Like I mentioned, you’ll be surrounded by people who love the same thing you do! So say hello to people in presentations, in the tradeshow, and in line at Starbucks. Since I didn’t have an iPhone last year, I asked a complete stranger if I could borrow her phone to quickly check my email.

Learn hard. Play hard. Make friends. Share stories.

Oh, and an announcement!

Since going to the Making Things Happen Intensive back in January, I started a new blog. I’d love if you would check it out and tell me what you think. I’ve kept the project under wraps, but I figured that (and with encouragement from Lara Casey) this would be a good time to unveil it to the general public! Its content is on a different wavelength from this one, so it’s totally worth a look. Go ahead. Do it. Please?

Without further ado, I present, Project: Joie de Vivre!

Project Joie de Vivre

Are you going to be in Vegas? I’d love to meet up with you!

Sunday: Arrival and AIRHORNS & LASERS party!
Possibly getting up early for the 8am platform
10am-1pm: Tradeshow
4pm-5:30pm: Fast Track Shoot Out
6:30pm-8:30pm: Jasmine Star Platform
8:30pm-whenever: hanging out with new friends!
Tuesday: Cent’s birthday!
12pm-3pm: Tradeshow floor
3:30pm-5:30pm: Dane Sanders, Mary & Justin Marantz, Elizabeth Messina platforms (still undecided!)
10pm: [b] school party & Pictage Party (but not at the same time)
10am-12pm: Tradeshow floor
2:30-4:30pm: Amber Holritz platform, Melanie Nashan platform (possibly)
1pm-4pm: Photog Shootout
6pm-whenever: hang out with new friends!
9am-11am: Photographers Ignite Presentation
3pm: Fly home!

Plans are subject to change, but say hello!


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