On Saturday March 9th, 2013 my friend Andrea and I left Connecticut via train, shuttle and airplane and went to Vegas for our first WPPI in Las Vegas. After leaving our husbands in charge of our child(ren) we were off to meet two amazing girls, Amber and Jennifer, to room together for the next five days. After delays in Denver due to a snow storm and a lot of worries on our part that we will miss the last plane out to Vegas, we as well as our luggage made it to Vegas. WOOT WOOT.
We were too tired for anything so we just fell into our beds. We had to get up early in the morning to register for WPPI and afterwards we met up with a bunch of other ladies we previously met at another workshop in 2012. We went to the Bellagio for breakfast. Probably the best breakfast I ever had, ever. So worth the $36 we paid for it. Yes I am not kidding. Afterwards we headed back to the conference center for our first class – Pimp your Speedlight – with Kevin Kubota. If you don’t know him, look him up. He is a genius when it comes to light and flash. His class was a great start and we were amazed what one can do with lighting – if you have a lot of nice equipment. (You should see all the things I added to my Amazon Wishlist, hint hint) 🙂
We went back to the Hotel room (MGM Signature) and gathered our thousand things for the upcoming “Wild Wild West” shoot out with Dawn & Bob Davis. Words cannot explain how exciting we were about it. We (together with about 36 other photographers) went on a bus into the deep, deep dessert. At the ranch we were greeted by sexy cowboys on horses. I know – it was perfect. We had the most amazing models that endured us and our cameras for about 4 hours. We split up into groups and took the models to different location throughout the ranch. It was just magnificent. Looking back I wish I would have enjoyed the surroundings a bit more, as I have never been at a dessert before. However, if you know me, you know, as soon as I pick my camera, I forget everything around me. So I was in shooting mode and I don’t regret it one bit. This was the most amazing set up I have ever been too. Just wonderful. Dawn and Bob are the most amazing people and teachers you will ever meet. I cannot thank them enough for all their hard work and their niece Michelle for settings this all up for us. I am used to planning big events at work and I know how much work this must have been. Just plain perfect. I would do it again in a heartbeat. So if you are heading to WPPI in 2014 you want to sign up for their workshop!!! They day went by way too fast but good thing I have some pictures to remember the day by:
We got back to our hotel room and were too tired for much else. I know I edited some pictures, but then we just passed out and looked forward to Monday.
The first class we took on Monday morning was “Transform your Portrait Business” with Jamie Schultz. I had never heard of her before this class but this lady seriously blew me away. She was so honest and sweet and simple that I could so easily identify with her. Well except for the fact that she is super successful and I – well let’s say I am just getting started 🙂 I had to wipe away tears more than once because her words hit really close to home. I learned so much in her class but most importantly I learned that anything is possible. Now I just have to keep telling myself that. Hehe. After this emotional class we went to the Tradeshow that opened that day for the first time. Very overwhelming. Every vendor you can imagine that has anything to do with photography was there and so were a lot of people. So worth it though, we got to touch a lot of products that you usually only see online and we went to some of our favorite vendors and of course I had to check out the SONY booth. 🙂 We spent a good amount of time there and after a quick lunch we went back to the hotel. We had another shoot out that very same day. It was a bonus shoot we got for signing up for Dawn & Bob’s workshop and it was hosted by MGM & Graphistudio. They had different location throughout the property where groups of photographers would take pictures. You rotated your locations so that you would have a lot of different pictures by the end of the shoot. It started of a bit chaotic as some photographers just cannot play by the rules, but it got better towards the end. Once again we had the best models that worked very hard – the second day in the row, in bright sunlight and still kept smiling. Every location was run by an amazing photographer, I got to shoot with Bob Dawis, Henk Van Kooten, Joe Buissink and some others.
What an amazing honor that was! I also took a lot of pictures that I am very proud of. Here are a few:
The best part of the day? Thaifood in the hotel room while we edited the pictures we took. 🙂
On Tuesday morning we went to the Graphistudio presentation where they showed us how to use their album software – very impressive. I cannot wait to use them for my wedding couples this year. Their quality is simply amazing!! After that Andrea and I jumped on some mattresses, answered some very personal questions and got money for doing so. Which paid for lunch. Nice! Back at the tradeshow we watched two of my favorite photographers, Zach and Jody, talk and demonstrate the Expodisc. Which by the way has changed my mind. Afterwards we went on a free photo walk with the amazingly talented Moshe Zusman. A lot of photographers went so it was hard to get some good shots or even get close to the models but we did the best we could. He had some people there that worked for B&H in New York, and they just blew us away with their generosity. Not only did they answer every question we had but they also let us try out and use some of their equipment. So very kind. I learned so much about lighting that night and blame it all on them. So grateful for them. Of course I have some pictures for you:
We had entered a contest ran by Justin & Mary – amazing wedding photographers from New Haven, CT – and we were invited to a soiree among with a couple of other photographers on Tuesday night. It was at a fun bar where the waiters would even dance on the tables. I don’t drink so I still remember the whole night. LOL. It was nice to meet some other photographers as well as of course meeting Justin and Mary. What a sweet couple. We talked about eating Pepe’s Pizza, which if you don’t know is the best pizza in New Haven, CT. We used to live right across from there so we got plenty of it in the 4 years we lived there. Just writing about it makes me hungry. It was another late night but so worth it.
On Wednesday morning we got up super early to go to Sue Bryce’s seminar on “Contemporary Portrait Posing”. It was just like back in the days when I would go to see Nsync in concert – LONG lines. 🙂 Good thing we got there early and we got a seat in the second row, but boy it looked like they were running out of space for her class. She was super funny and entertaining and I just wish I could take her to shoots with me so that she could pose people with me. She is just amazing and I want her to take pictures of me. I am throwing this out into the universe, and maybe one day it will become true. After her class we were all motivated to go and take pictures but we went to the tradeshow instead, one last time. We saw amazing presentations by Bambi Cantrell, Scott Kelby and Brooke Shaden. All of them very inspiring and informative.
We also had another class in the afternoon, “Your business is a chain” by Matt & Kaite Ebenezer. I had never heard of them before, but their class sounded very interesting. What sweethearts. And again I was in tears. I don’t know what it was about this week being so emotional but for some reason all of the speakers except Kevin made me cry. Maybe it is a women thing? Just listening to their story and development throughout the years was so inspiring and emotional. Of course if even the speaker starts crying there is no other way as to join in once again. Haha. With our last class finished for this year’s WPPI we headed back to our room.
We had one more night to enjoy Vegas and it was the second time in a week that I left the hotel. Haha. We went to the Bellagio to meet some friends that happened to be in town at the same time, and we met up with our newfound friend Bob. Who, (even though we just spent the most exhausting week we had in weeks) came out to shoot with us and explained a few more things about lighting to us. You see there are amazing people out there! Lucky for me he is from CT so I hopefully I will get to see him again soon. What an inspiring person to learn from. It was a long night and after a few night shoots we went back to the hotel to sleep for 4 hours before heading to the airport. Here are some pictures:
The flight back home was uneventful and we made it home on time. I don’t think I have ever been this tired. Well that is not true, I remember when my daughter was a baby and she would never sleep. This came close. I rested a bit and went back to work the next day. Not sure what I was thinking. Maybe that I was out of vacation days. 🙂 What an amazing time we had. I am still not sure I took it all in by now. I have to go through my notebooks and read over my notes and I just haven’t had the time. We met so many amazing peoples and found friends (for life, I hope). It gave me energy to pursue my business and to trust in myself that I am on the right track. I cannot wait for WPPI 2014. Will we be able to top this?
A big thank you to all my peeps for going on this journey with me. Especially to Andrea, Amber and Jennifer!!!! I love you girls.
Not only a photographer but also a writer !!! Enjoyed your story.
thank you Lucile! 🙂
I have to confess my love for your work. I can see you grow, professionally with every shoot you do. You make an effort to find mentors and to learn from them. I am proud of you and I Know that one day all of your hard work and investments you have put towards this passion will pay off. You are super talented and you keep getting better. I love you. Xoxo.
You are the best husband in the world. I love you so so much!!
I loved your blog post! You were one of my highlights Ute! You are absolutely the sweetest! I’m so glad you came to our shootout! Love you girlie!
Oh Dawn. You were one of mine too!!! So so glad we got to meet and spend time together. Thanks to you and Bob for putting this all together and for making this trip while worth it. Love you too!!!!