My very first trip to the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International Conference in Las Vegas!
WPPI is the worlds largest convention for professional photographers, think 13,000 camera toting freaks. It is a great time, with industry parties, days full of amazing classes from some of your favorite photographers and it’s VEGAS of course! This is my WPPI review and I like to travel well so I have some travel tips and advice for saving some money too. The event is held at the MGM Grand with 5 days of classes and a HUGE expo for 3 of the days. We are talking 2 full ballrooms of stuff you want to touch, try and compare. It’s almost overwhelming.
Where to stay?
You can stay at the MGM Grand but it still means walking a mile or so to your classes. That is just an estimate, but you know how these casinos are, they make you walk through everything to get you to spend more money (basically a large maze of artificial, indulgent and sparkling things). Based on advice from photogs I know who had attended in the past, I chose the MGM Signature. The Signature is right next door and attached with enclosed hallways with those land escalator thingies so it is basically as close as staying at the Grand.
Photos: One of the Signature’s lovely pools, Me catching a ride in a stretch hummer with Kiss Albums, one of my lovely room mates : )
Why the Signature?
I love that it is non smoking, and no gaming. I don’t care for either so this really attracted me. Also, it is super nice, has it’s own pools that are not as crowded as the Grand and the rooms have kitchens. Having your own fridge for drinks and being able to cook food can save you a ton of money! A bottle of water is like $5 around the strip!
I shared a 1 bedroom hotel room with 2 other girls from Montana. It had a bedroom with a master bath and a pull out bed in the living room, a second bathroom and a small kitchen. It was very nicely appointed, comfortable for 3-4 girls and had a balcony. I could live in that hotel pretty easily : )
We took a taxi to a grocery store once and stocked up on some food, snacks and drinks, especially water! I didn’t cook much but having cereal in the morning and sandwiches or whatever for lunch saved money to go out for dinner! It is expensive eating and drinking in Vegas. A beer is $8 and I prefer cocktails which were about $18 a piece! OUCH. The industry parties are great for providing h’orderves and drinks. WPPI also has parties every night sponsored by Nikon, Canon and such. Many of these have some food but no free drinks that I remember? I only went to a few of these as I was there for only 4 days, the pool party at the MGM Grand was fun and had great food to snack on!
How are the classes?
Enough about pools, parties and rad hotels already. We are here for the classes right? You can reserve your seat in 5 classes in advance. You can go to more, these are just one’s you absolutely have a seat for. I went to at about 2 classes a day. If you aren’t going to make it to an early class don’t try. It takes 15-20 minutes just to get to the classes and they sometimes fill up if the speaker if very popular. I went to Sal Cincotta, Brett Florens, Jerry Ghionis, and Lawrence Chan (AKA Tofurious) to name a few. All the classes were pretty awesome, although sometimes I felt a little too advanced for what they were explaining as I have a bachelors degree in photography and have worked professionally for over 5 years. I would recommend researching the person teaching and the class before deciding. I really enjoyed Brett Florens- his story was fascinating and his tips were honest and helpful. He really tried to demystify the high fashion wedding photography he does and I won a book from him! Woohoo!
Is it worth going to WPPI?
Yes! Maybe not every year, I am not going in 2014. Even if you go just for the expo and a few parties it’s a a great experience and you meet wonderful people. Keeping up on new technology, techniques and learning new things is important in any field.
Don’t try to do everything. Make time for what you really want to do while there. I scheduled some serious time at the pool and soaking up the sun because it was still winter in Montana! We made time for some fun industry parties and yummy food. I spread the expo over 2 days so it wasn’t madness taking it all in.