I have been so excited for the last few weeks about sharing this post! A couple weeks ago Emily and I left for Vegas for WPPI! For those who don’t know what WPPI is; It is the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International. Essentially a week of photographers from all over the world coming to Vegas to learn, meet new friends, and find out what’s new and exciting in the wedding and portrait world. Although I’ve been photographing weddings for a little over three years this was my first time ever getting to go to WPPI!
We left on February 28th out of Cleveland, and had the most amazing flight out there! The winter in Northeast Ohio has been a brutal one, so obviously we were really excited to get out of the snow and see some desert! The entire trip we peered out the window hoping for the first sign of warmth. Unfortunately, it took us all till Vegas until we no longer saw snow! Even flying over the Grand Canyon we caught glimses of snow covered peaks. Despite the sight of snow it was surely beautiful!
Arriving a day before the classes started we met up with some Cleveland friends that first night, met up for sushi, and took on the Vegas strip! Emily and I were awstruck as we walked in and out of each casino. Everything was so suprisingly clean it blew my mind! Due to the three hour time changed we called it a night, and headed back to the hotel room since we had our first class with Katelyn James in the morning!
We woke feeling refreshed and ready to learn! It was the first day of speakers, and the energy in the entire place made me feel so motivated to learn and connect! I personally have never felt so excited and happy to LEARN!
As I said our first speaker was with the amazingly talented Katelyn James! (What a way to start off right?!) Immediately after walking into the room my attention was drawn to a small group of individuals hanging out right by the stage. These individals?..Non other than my favorites, Justin + Mary, Matt + Carissa Kennedy, Amy + Jordan Demos, Troy + Amy Grover, and of course Michael + Katelyn! Now I usually don’t get starstrucked, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a little giddy! It was hard not too…Here were ten people who over the course of a couple years I have come to know by reading their blogs. I owe so much to them for the help and openess they have constantly put forth over the years that have helped me and my business.
Without wasting any time I put my ONA bag on my seat, and approached Matt Kennedy to be then greeted by a big hug. I mentored with Matt in 2014 via Skype so it was SO nice to finally get to meet him and his wonderful wife Carissa! They both made us feel so welcomed, and I began to sense the feeling as if I was finally where I belonged. A feeling that came to grow stronger as the week progressed.
With no surprise Katelyn’s speech was very informative and impactful. She discussed how to find the balance between personal and professional posts online. It’s a topic you really don’t think about, but it’s amazing just how important finding the balance is! It’s something I struggle with ALL the time!
The rest of the day/week consisted of running into more people we knew both from online and from Ohio. Later that night we attended a dinner for Showiteers at the Wicked Spoon in the Cosmopolitan. If you want to see a buffet on steroids check that place out! They literally had EVERYTHING you could want to eat! The best part of the night was when dinner was over we met some new friends that were also Showiteers! Friends that we came to hang out with the entire week! Friends that we are still texting and facetiming even after WPPI is over. Makes me so happy!
If you ever plan to attened WPPI let me warn you…DO NOT go crazy and book your week up full of classes. When I registered for my platform classes I scheduled five total. For the duration of the conference I thought that I would have enough time to do everything…and I did not. You see, when you’re walking around all day and night you tend to meet people. People that are awesome. You want to hang out with these people, because…they’re just awesome. That’s how the entire week went. I was able to attend three out of my five classes I registered for. Why? Because, it the midst of learning and finding out what’s next in the industry we were busy networking. When we did that social events happened to pop-up here and there within our schedule. For example I got to have drinks with the talented designers Jeff Shipley and Jen Olmstead from Tonic Site Shop, where I met even MORE people I follow. A group of us also got together in one of the MGM Signature suites late at night to play Cards Against Humanity. (Dangerous)
As much as I learned from Katelyn, Matt, and Justin + Mary’s presentations, the biggest take-a-way from WPPI I had was to just put yourself out there and meet people! Don’t get me wrong I learned a lot of VERY helpful and insightful information during those classes, but when I walked around Vegas all week I had a constant sense of belonging, and it brought me so much overwelming joy and happiness. Despite being a wedding photographer for the last three years, I had yet to find that feeling. I have always felt completely happy and fulfilled with what I was doing, but for once I finally felt respected amongst my peers, and was reminded constantly that was I am doing is awesome!
Now I could literally go on and on in detail about the entire week, but just seeing how long this post is after talking about the first day…That would be quite a long post! So instead I’ll leave you with an abundance of iPhone/Instagram photos that we took throughout the week! As I mentioned this will be a two part post so I will talk some more about classes and what we learned while in Vegas on Friday’s post! Enjoy!