Oh.My.Word. These three little words are the first words that pop into my mind when someone mentions WPPI (the biggest photography conference of the year). I don’t even know where to begin to tell you how amazing my experience was there. From the classes I took to the people I met to the products I saw, every single bit of it was amazing (except maybe when I lost the key to my best friend’s husband’s truck, but that’s another story!).
Last year at this time, I was just starting my photography journey, let alone know there was a whole week dedicated to it, where people come from around the world to attend! When Me Ra mentioned WPPI last year, I definitely was not attending-1. It was across the country and 2. I had just been gifted my camera 2 weeks earlier. Now, when she mentioned it this year, I was starting to consider going. I am only 3 hours away from Vegas (where the conference is held) AND I found a stellar deal on a ticket. I just couldn’t pass it up! And, boy, am I SO glad I was able to attend!
So what happens at WPPI, well what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas……unless you’re a photographer at WPPI and then it’s flashed all over blogs and facebook! There are 3 major parts to WPPI that mattered to me. Classes, Connections, and Products.
The classes, oh the classes! There is a reason these guys and gals were asked to speak. They know how to hold a crowd! The first class I took was with Michele Celentano. She is a family portrait photographer in Phoenix. She was a girl after my own heart. She petite like me, loves to be healthy, did I mention she is training for a figure competition? She blew me away! She gave awesome tips for photographing families. One great thing to share….always make mom look better than her best. If mom looks good, not only will she buy the photos and products, but she’ll keep coming back to you because you make her look great! How true! How many times have you not framed a photo because you didn’t think you looked good? Guilty right here. I can’t wait to incorporate some of her ideas into my business..like a brochure for potential clients (mine will be ready in a couple of weeks!).
Another great speaker I saw was Jamie Schultz. This gal does it all! From photography to card designs to lunchbox food that belongs in a museum, she seriously does it all. Jamie gave some amazing advice, but the one that hit me the most was how she invested in her clients. She truly gets to know them. She takes the time to learn about them and their families before their session even starts. Jamie has been welcomed into numerous families who began as clients. And again and again they keep coming back to her, because she knows them and knows how to capture them. One of my favorite things she said was (paraphrased here…) “once I turned the focus of my business from where I wanted to go to what my client wanted, my whole business changed”. She said it made it more meaningful. Sounds simple, but it seemed so profound when I heard her say it (again, a whole another blog post..coming soon though). She sends a questionnaire to her clients so she knows exactly what type of photos they want so she can come prepared to the session. She showed emotion during her talk and let us into a little bit of her and her life. She touched my heart for sure.
Last one I’m going to talk (write?) about…..Dane Sanders. That man is awesome! He has given me the idea for the basis of my newly revamped business plan! His thinking if so out of the box, and it’s wonderful! One thing that was so great about him is he truly believes we are all better together. His talk wasn’t him standing up lecturing us. It was so interactive. When I got onstage (oh yes I did, and those who really know me know this didn’t scare me one bit!), I put a question and before he gave his answer, he asked the rest of the group…because we are all better together. Love it! One thing he says is great to do it make yourself the photographer in your neighborhood. Immerse yourself in your marketing area. Live there if you can. Get to know everyone in the neighborhood. That way it goes something like this……….You pass by a couple of neighbors chatting, only one of whom you know while on your daily run. Their conversation: “Who is that, she looks familiar?” “Oh, that’s Rachel Abelson. She super nice, her kids are so sweet. And she’s an awesome photographer.” “Really? Do you have her number? We need some updated family photos.” And bam! You have another potential client. Sure this isn’t possible for all of us, but if you can live in your target market area, do it! You’ll already be involved in their lives and you’ll always be the first one they think of for your service.
Phew, that’s enough for one post. Next up….the people!!! Stay tuned…..
Hugs to you!