Whew! What a whirlwind trip to Wedding and Portrait Photographers International at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. I traveled with good friend and awesome wedding photographer Carly Fuller of Carly Fuller Photography who took those totally fun pics of me below. We had such an incredible time and learned SO MUCH. (At one point I had to leave my class a little early and hit a video poker machine just to clear my head. But I digress.) It was my first time at a photography conference and I’ll be honest: it was slightly intimidating. I kept wondering if I really belonged there with so many talented people. And I’m happy to say that yes, I did belong there. Even the veteran photographers admit they have something to learn so I gave myself permission to just sit-back and relax and take in as much as I could handle.
I listened to presentations from some of the BIGGEST names in the business. If you don’t know their work, you need to check it out. I’m going to share one nugget with you from each of the presentations I attended. There was also a huge trade-show and of course I wanted to buy everything but settled for just a few much-needed items. I’ll tell you about those too. Here we go.
Sarah Petty – Sarah Petty Photography and The Joy of Marketing – was the first presentation we saw but we were lucky enough to sit next to her on the plane from St. Louis to Vegas! Energetic and eager to help photographers grow their business, Sarah offers lots of FREE information on her Joy of Marketing site. My Sarah Petty takeaway: Shoot to sell! Make your clients do what YOU want them to do which is to buy your prints. Make sure your images are sellable. Sarah is really big on in-person consultations before your session and then selling in-person whether using projection software or on your iPad. You want to create an emotional attachment between your client and their images. And above all make sure your branding and your work is consistent. Don’t try and be something you’re not, you’ll confuse your clients.
Jasmine Star – Jasmine Star Photography – this woman is AMAZING. Her story is pretty incredible as well. Long story short: she dropped out of law school to become a wedding photographer. Her work in incredible and she’s just gorgeous (in and out). My J* takeaway: A brand is an experience. Clients are booking you for the EXPERIENCE of you taking their pictures, not just because they like the pictures they see on your website. Be sure to give your clients an idea of who YOU are by sharing personal stories/interests. I know that can be scary, to put yourself out there, but I think it’s necessary for building trust with your clients. And for you wedding photographers – make nice with the other vendors at the wedding. Offer them photos of their work, it will go a long way.
Bambi Cantrell – Bambi Cantrell Portrait Design, Inc. – Thirty-years in the biz, Bambi set the standard for posing and lighting in the wedding photography industry. And while my focus is portrait photography, her tips easily translated. Her talk was technical yet easy to understand. Using a mix of her own photos and real-live models (including a bride in a dress!) Bambi shared her tricks for getting the most out of her clients. My Bambi Cantrell takeaway: FOLLOW THE LIGHT. Pay attention to where it is and what it’s bouncing off of (as long as it’s white or a light color). Don’t photograph on the same side as the light source. Remember lighting + posing = shape.
Me Ra Koh – Me Ra Koh Photography– First a writer and speaker, now a photographer, Me Ra inspired a recent blog post for our local Odenton Patch (I’m a regular blogger) titled “Slice of Life.” You can read it here. It focuses on how you divide up your time, interests and energy. So in addition that, Me Ra had some other great nuggets of information. My Me Ra Koh takeaway: your website should reflect who you are. Your personality is your brand. You need to make people feel comfortable about your taking their pictures. She suggested sharing outtake stories from sessions and even go so far as to ask the youngest member of the family you are photographing to “sit where you think you should be” and then snap a picture and share it. The images she showed were hysterical -little kids sitting as far away from the rest of the family as possible.
So, there you go. My whole WPPI experience in one blog post. I can’t wait for next year! In the meantime, here are some more pics from Vegas!