When I was a kid, I wanted to go to summer camp so badly. The stereotypical cabins in the woods, canoeing, swimming in a lake, bonfire building summer camps that you always saw kids on TV go to. The closest I ever got was Space Camp for a week. Yes… I went to Space Camp in Florida. Twice. This is probably the nerdiest fact about me. The whole time I was at WPPI, I kept thinking back to Space Camp. A bunch of kids getting together to talk about being astronauts someday, trying to out-nerd each other with space related trivia, becoming instant best friends with my bunkmates. In a weird way… WPPI was kind of exactly like that experience. Only with less space ice cream and more scantily clad “ladies” wandering around. A bunch of photo nerds getting together to talk about photography for five days, sharing information and inspiring one another… and yes, I even became instant best friends with my bunkmates.
I saw some amazing speakers – Jason Groupp, Kevin Kubota, Tamara Lackey, among others; attended Justin & Mary’s Sunrise Shootout; met so many incredible photographers; had an amazing experience chatting with the folks at Richard Photo Lab; and came home full of ideas, inspiration, and a new found dedication to my craft and my business.
It was such a whirlwind – from the moment I landed in Las Vegas on Saturday morning until I left on Tuesday night, I was pretty much going non-stop. Classes, workshops, networking, walking the trade show. Oh – and having fun with my roomies. It was Vegas, afterall. Between late nights spent staying up talking to Christy, Allison, and Emily to getting up at 5am for the Shootout… I think I probably got a grand total of 12 hours of sleep the whole time I was gone. Luckily there was a Starbucks in the lobby, or I’d have been in real trouble.
For me, the highlights of the trip – other than meeting some seriously incredible photographers/friends – were Jason Groupp’s class on his I Heart NY sessions and Justin & Mary’s Sunrise Shootout. (Which I’ve already gushed about. Obviously.) Jason Groupp really got into my head. What he’s doing for portrait sessions is what I’ve been trying to do for my elopements. And he challenged me to take it further… take it to the next level. He reminded me that first and foremost I’m an artist and as an artist, I need to continue to challenge myself to try new things; to make my photographs better; to grow into this role as an elopement photographer even more. The last thing I want to do is stagnate or churn out the same thing over and over. His was the very first class I attended at WPPI on Sunday morning, and it was the best possible way to begin the journey. I left his talk feeling like my head was going to explode because it was so suddenly full of new ideas.
I was worried before I went that I was making a mistake. It was a lot of money to spend and a long way to go to hear the same things I’ve heard at so many talks/classes before. I was afraid I wouldn’t walk away with anything new. But I was definitely wrong – thank goodness. And I plan to go back again every couple of years to reignite the fire under myself and my business. It was an incredibly moving and emotional experience for me, and I highly recommend attending if you’re thinking about it next year.
My trip in photographs, in order from beginning to end: