WPPI Tips & Tricks: 10 Straight Up Tips for Photographers Attending WPPI
Well well well, here we are again! Late winter, early spring, although this year a little earlier than usual – it’s WPPI time again y’all! Ready for some WPPI tips and tricks?
I’m not sure why I say y’all, I’m not from the South, I just think it’s fun, so go with it.
I have found myself answering the same questions over and over again in photography groups on Facebook, so instead of typing this out every time (oh my aching fingers!), I wanted to put a list together of my top tips for photographers attending WPPI!
I have been to WPPI every year since umm… well I don’t remember. 2010? Well now I feel old. I didn’t go in 2015 because I had just had a baby, and if there is any excuse that is acceptable, birthing a child should be one!
I will be the first to admit that my goals and wants have changed DRASTICALLY since the first year I attended WPPI, but there are a few consistent tricks that I have put into place every year that help me immensely!
A few things to remember with this list:
1. I have arthritis, which means that I am not a marathon runner by any stretch of the imagination. So when I say something is a LONG walk, it might not be as long and arduous for those of you that run several miles a day. I only run when something is chasing me, so if you see me running, you should run too.
2. I am all about saving myself an extra step. Efficiency, baby! So if you enjoy something that takes longer, you might see a tip that doesn’t fit, and that’s okay!
3. I travel often, so I have NOT included a full packing list, because they live forever in my Evernote. This will be discussed in the future though!
Okay, are you ready for some straight up, REAL TALK tips for attending WPPI? Zero fluff, no sponsors, no hey you should check this out because someone is paying me to say it!
1. GROCERY DELIVERY.
Yes, that needs to be in caps. Every year I stay at the MGM Signature – and with the change of venue this year, that might not be ideal, I haven’t decided yet. But man, I have grown really attached to the full kitchen. Vons does grocery delivery directly to the Signature, which is a HUGE lifesaver! Why? Because I can take breakfast with me when I’m out and about or going to the expo or classes. I can also order those things that you roll your eyes at at the store and swear you’ll never have in your home: the frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. When a class runs long and you only have 20 minutes until the next one, going to get lunch becomes near impossible! Between the walk there, the lines when you get there, and then paying $10 for a bad slice of pizza? No thanks. I’ll take my PB&J any day!
A few must orders in this grocery delivery? Frozen PB&J, wine, Emergen-C, salami, cheese, crackers, frozen breakfast sandwiches, orange juice, champagne, fruits and veggies, baggies, and peanut butter M&M’s. They pretty much all speak for themselves, but the baggies are something people ask me about. This allows me to just take some salami and cheese with me for a quick breakfast, or for lunch. Salami and harder cheddars are pretty versatile and last in my backpack all day.
I know that everyone has a favorite waterbottle, but I’m really, really picky. I don’t want one where the lid completely disconnects (like Swell) because I lose lids. I want one that never leaks, and keeps my drinks cold. I could go into a very detailed list of my waterbottle complaints, but we’ll leave that for another time.
These Thermos waterbottles are my most favorite, I take them with me whenever I travel, and my ice stays ice for about 18 hours. These are the only bottles I trust completely and can throw into my camera bag and won’t leak everywhere! Getting coffee or any other beverage at WPPI can be challenging when you’re in a line with hundreds of other photographers – save yourself the trip, and save the planet plastic bottles, and bring your own. There is water everywhere within the convention center, so you can refill in any of your classes, or in the lounges at the expo.
3. Make a list of Must-Do’s!
Between classes, the expo, parties, meetings with friends, shootouts, and everything in between – it can be overwhelming. Make a list of your must-do’s and the things that you absolutely don’t want to miss. I have pared my schedule WAY down at WPPI to spend more time with friends and colleagues, but when I did a ton of classes, I used to use Google calendar for this. It helps to see if there is any overlap somewhere in your schedule that may present a conflict.
Also, don’t forget to include FUN in this list of Must-Do’s. I have gone to WPPI and packed my schedule SO FULL OF LEARNING that I didn’t do anything else. You are in Vegas, baby, live it up! See a show, or go to one of the amazing restaurants! The photo above is from Absinthe, an amazing show – and there are LOTS in Vegas. Make it a get together for photographers in your genre, gather five friends and all go together, share an Uber! Make it a point to do something fun, you will be amazed how clear your mind is when you took a few hours away from business and you come back.
4. Look for, and schedule, ahead of time.
WPPI offers a ton of classes and the expos – which range from boring as hell to super amazing. BUT there are a lot of photographers that offer classes at WPPI that are separate from WPPI entirely, they just happen at the same time. I have done shootouts and classes, and it is another opportunity to really meet people that you haven’t met before. Make new friends! Usually they are more hands on and you get to shoot with other photographers too, and there is a TON of knowledge waiting to be learned there! Look in Facebook groups and other communities for happenings that are outside of the WPPI umbrella. Usually there are tickets or signups, and you can find links in the larger Facebook groups. Make sure to schedule yourself appropriately so you don’t miss any of your must-do’s!
5. Make sure there is room in your suitcase!
Even if you don’t plan on purchasing anything at the expo, there are a ton of handouts and materials. I have become VERY choosy about what I take home with me – who wants to carry everything? BUT, I still take home quite a bit. I use this as an opportunity to get paper samples and card samples from my favorite labs, so that I can reference them throughout the year when I get home! One year, I had to BUY another suitcase to get everything home – which I don’t recommend. If you’re packing and it’s tight, go one size up and check it, to make sure you have room for everything.
6. STAY HEALTHY.
Yep, another in all caps. It seems like every year, WPPI attendees come home with the black lung. The plague. The whatever you want to call it. It doesn’t matter what you name it – it sucks. This comes from lack of sleep, being around thousands of people when so many of us work from home, and just generally not taking care of yourself. Last year was the first year that I said ENOUGH. I knew that when I got home, I didn’t have time to be sick, I would much rather spend that time with my family. So instead of partying every night, I stayed in. And interestingly enough, my roommates decided to stay in too, and we had cocktails with our feet in the jetted tub because they hurt so damn bad. I went home feeling awesome and wasn’t complete exhausted. Staying out and partying every night is a ton of fun, but it isn’t worth taking MORE time away from your family and your business. Be careful with what you choose to splurge on when it comes to your time and your health, and keep yourself healthy.
7. Make new friends.
This can be really, really hard for someone that feels super uncomfortable being alone at WPPI. I am an extrovert and it’s STILL hard for me because I hate going places by myself, I feel so weird. Because it is something that is difficult for me, I have actually had to set a goal for myself: meet three new people by noon. It sounds ridiculous, but when I set that goal and I’m intentional about it, I make it happen. I have found it not only puts me outside of my comfort zone and forces me to meet new people, but it also helps me to feel better about where I’m at.
I want to include this because my husband said that it really struck him when I told him this at a business conference… he was feeling intimidated and didn’t want to approach people. They all seem to know each other, right?
TRUTH: there are a lot of other people that feel the same way you do. Reaching out to them to say hi may be an act of kindness that you didn’t even know was happening, because you have included them in conversation.
Seriously, reach out and say hi. We are all in this together, we are all self employed business people trying to make things work. If someone is a dick, say goodbye and move on. It isn’t you, it’s them.
8. Create a plan for the Expo.
It sounds completely unnecessary, but the expo is HUGE. You will find yourself wandering aisles and aisles that you didn’t want to go down, and sometimes pushy salespeople will drag you into a conversation that makes you want to stab needles in your eyeballs. On the other hand, also be open to weird things that you never thought might be a good fit for you. One of my most favorite WPPI purchases EVER is a tens device type massager that is STILL amazing. My feet and back hurt, they put that thing on and I was SOLD, and I still use it to this day!
9. Don’t bring your big DSLR everywhere.
But Brooke, this is a photography conference! Yes, but what exactly do you think you’re going to take photos of? Slides from classes? Do you really need the quality that a DSLR offers when your phone can take the same photo of another screen? REALLY? Last year I didn’t even bring my big camera, I shot with my mirrorless – and it was GLORIOUS not to have to carry my huge camera everywhere with me. My back and shoulders thanked me profusely. This year I have several shoots so I will be bringing my gear, but if you can get away with it, don’t lug it around everywhere.
Note: I didn’t say don’t bring it at all – if you have CPS (Canon Professional Services) or NPS (Nikon Professional Services) or the equivalent from other manufacturers, they will clean some gear for free if you’re a member! Bring it, drop it off, and let them work their magic. Plus, they have a lounge which is a great place to sit down and have a soda when your feet are screaming at you.
10. But what will I wear?!
This two word sentence applies not only to what to wear, but pretty much EVERYTHING.
If you prefer to dress snazzy in a suit, do it! If you are like me and want to wear jeans and a t-shirt with sequin lips on it, do it! Wear layers, bring a hoodie or a light jacket, because it can get cold in the classrooms, but wear what you’re comfortable in, and what you feel good in. Wear things that represent YOU, and your brand! Most of all: wear comfortable shoes. I see women wearing these gorgeous heels and I just don’t understand. They look amazing, but I would be DYING. I wear sequin converse or Danskos – comfy! You can also put insoles into most shoes, adding in some extra support. You will be on your feet ALL DAY, make sure that you are wearing something that can handle it!
Alright party people, those are my top ten tips for attending WPPI! If you have been to WPPI in the past, what would you share? What do you agree with, love, or disagree with? Leave me a comment, I would love to know!