WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographer’s International) is the world’s largest photography convention, held in Vegas every year, this year there was 13,000 attendants from all over the world.
2011 was the first year that I went. I was 22 and just finished my first year in business, it was perfect timing. At that time they gave you a free buddy pass so I brought my mom who loves Vegas. She thought she was just going to play poker the whole time but instead ended up going to classes taught by the world’s best to take notes while I was in other classes, she became drawn into the industry and was even crying at the awards ceremony at some of the speeches! People would ask her what she shot with and she would hold up her iphone (she thinks she’s hilarious). The two of us had such an amazing time and even though she had always supported me, by the end of the convention she finally understood what being a photographer was really about. I left feeling inspired and ready to create something to leave my impression on the world.
I’ve been three times since then, including most recently this past week. The whole event, from the print competition to the classes to the after parties, just has such a great atmosphere. Vegas adds to that of course because you never know what you will end up doing – from shooting Cirque Du Soleil horses in the desert to modelling at Red Rock Canyon to talking life with a National Geographic Photographer til 3:00am in the lobby bar. My favourite thing are the people you meet because the energy attracts such unique personalities, and so many of these interesting people are involved with big ideas beyond the photography industry, they are entrepreneurs and inventors and philanthropists.
I am always inspired after attending conventions like this, it’s electrifying. I am passionate about teaching and hoped that I could share what I have learned with other photographers in the hopes that they will be left with the same feeling.
My “speaking” career began a couple years ago, when my friend and cinematographer Chris Dowsett said “hey, we should do a workshop together”. I said hell ya and then thought; Uh oh. Do I actually have anything of value to share? A week of long work hours in a coffee shop and Fuel Workshops was born – an entire weekend of content. It’s amazing how much you find to talk about after some dedicated reflection time. It can also be surprising. I thought I was going to teach people how to take better photos, instead the voice I found was a business one.
Last April I was invited to speak at Canada Photo Convention, in October I spoke in Arizona at Showit United and then finally I was chosen as one of 12 speakers to speak at Photographer’s Ignite on the WPPI stage. Which I just experienced a few days ago.
Many people that I meet comment on how confident I am and I suppose it’s true, but I think it’s because I put myself in these situations where I feel like I might puke. Then I don’t puke (thus far) and I realize I’m able to see just a little bit farther. It doesn’t mean I have anything figured out, actually it has the opposite effect because suddenly there are all these new paths in my life, and I like it. We will see where this rabbit hole goes…