I leave in three short days to the Wedding & Portrait Professionals International. Each year between 13,000-20,000 photographers flock to Las Vegas for one of the biggest photographer gatherings in the world for an entire week. WPPI combines educational seminars, a major industry trade show and networking events. All the events are designed around learning the latest techniques, building new relationships and growing a business in a friendly, fun environment!!
By far, this is my favorite work week of the year! Sin City does not excite me at all, but the photography conference DOES! It’s the time of year that I get to visit with photography friends I’ve made from all over the world, walk through the expo and lay my eyes on new innovations, meet and greet with my favorite vendors who deliver the amazing products to my clients and I, and get my photography learn on from the world’s top phenomenal wedding and portrait masters! This is my fifth trip and I’m just as excited as when I took my first!
I love, love, love WPPI! I think that WPPI is a progressive, modern, forward-thinking and innovative organization. That’s also how I feel about the artists that are members of this organization and stellar work they are producing. This is want I want to mirror my work and my business on. This is why I attend this conference year in, year out. I will continue to set aside time and money to invest in my photography education… to learn from the people whose work I admire… whose work I want to emulate on some level… and whose work continues to push the bar and elevate the artistry and the legitimacy of the wedding and portrait world!
What exactly do I have planned for the week?
- Image Comp (Attending): First and foremost, the most educational part of the conference for me is always the live print competition. Sitting in a room with a moderator and a panel of five judges who have already “made their way” in the photography world, so to speak, is so enlightening. Watching the judges critique and listen to them judge an image has been one of the best tools I’ve found to grow as an artist. I don’t know what room Luke Edmonson (fellow Texan!) will be in, but I love to hear his thoughts about an image. Not only is he a very talented photographer, he’s incredibly articulate and I’m captivated by listening to him talk about a photograph. I will spend all day Saturday and all day Sunday in these dark, still, mostly quiet competition rooms looking at other photographers’ images and learning through them.
- Image Comp (Competing): Secondly, I’ll have three of my own images competing amongst the thousands vying for a merit. I have two in the wedding photojournalism category and one in the teen category (new this year). All my entries have been post-processed and printed by Rocco Ancora. Rocco is a WPPI and AIPP master photographer, a master printer and a Nikon Ambassador. I think he knows what he’s doing. This is my first time in the wedding photojournalism category. I’m very hopeful I’ll merit this year! Please wish me luck!
- Meeting up with Friends:
- Linda & Jennifer. These two ladies are actually San Antonio photographers and Jennifer is also my studio mate. Ironic that we’re traveling over 1,300 miles to see each other.
- Tim. I met Tim during my very first WPPI experience and I’ve been blessed enough to run into him every year since.
- Jeff. I was introduced to Jeff, a photographer from North Carolina, through another friend, Ashley at another conference (which shall remain nameless) a few years ago. We’ve remained in contact and Jeff has been a constant source of information and opinions and a fantastic sounding board! I’ve also bought some used lighting equipment from him.
- Sharon & Roddy. Sharon and Roddy are photographers from the West Coast. I actually only met both of them last year: Sharon at WPPI and Roddy at Yervant’s Creative Live class in Seattle. I’ve remained in contact with them both and can’t wait to see them. Roddy has also lent his ear and offered valuable advice to me. He is fully of energy and so willing to share!!
- Photowalk with Rocco Ancora: I’ve done a photowalk with Rocco in the past and attended his Plus class. (Outside of WPPI, I was also a student on one of his Creative Live classes.) I’ve been a fan of Rocco’s work for years. He’s incredible–how could I not??!! I have the utmost respect for his art, his knowledge, his willingness to help improve the industry as a whole and the way he holds this craft near and dear to his heart. This man is a photography genius! They’re aren’t too many with this caliber!
- Photowalk with Salvatore Dimino: I’ve also attended a two-day workshop with Salvatore in 2016 and his creative mind is just wicked. Wicked. Salvatore is another wedding and portrait photographer whose work just blows my mind!! I’m anxious to tap into this again and watch him work. I had loosely planned to attend a workshop in Sciacca, (Sicily) Italy with him later this year, but recently decided that it just wasn’t in my cards… yet. Hopefully, I can glean enough information from the photowalk to tide me over until I can make it to one of his workshops.
- Master Class with Ben Hartley: I don’t have any personal experience with Ben and actually don’t know that much about him other than he hosts a weekly podcast and was named one of the country’s top ten wedding photographers in 2017. This master class is a business intensive class concentrating on growing your photography business.
- Master Class with Catherine Hall: I have to admit I’m not that familiar with Catherine’s work either. But, I do love to find new talent and new inspiration each year that I attend WPPI. Catherine’s bio seems like she will fit the bill. This is also a business intensive class focusing on finding and attracting the right clients.
- Plus Class with Sanjay Jogia: This class, Evolve or Evaporate, was a freak accident in my itinerary, but I am so excited about it! I volunteered to help one of Linda’s friends because she was unable. I wasn’t even sure what I was signing up for, but holy moly I hit the motherlode!! I actually learned about Sanjay’s work during last year’s image comp. His image came up (an engaged couple on camels being led through the desert by a camel handler; sand blowing over a dune). I remember the energized debate that was sparked by the judging panel over whether the image should score higher or not. In the end, I believe it did, because the image ended up 2nd over all in the 2017 16X20 Image Competition Engagement-Portrait Division. It’s an incredible image. Now, I get to sit in, as a helper, for his six-hour Plus class! Pinch me.
- Platform Classes: Other regular, platform classes that I’ve jotted on my calendar include those from instructors, Cliff Mautner, Kristi Drago, Vanessa Joy, Green & Taylor, Mike Allenbach and Steve Saporito.
- Honors of Excellence Award Ceremony: I’ve never actually attended this part of the conference. This is the part where all the winners of each of the image comp categories are announced. I’ll get to find out who was the artist behind the images I witnessed during the live image competition without waiting for them to appear on the WPPI website. I’m looking forward to this!!
This week will be awesome. I will return to Texas a better photographer than I left.
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I am San Antonio’s most unique wedding photographer. I specialize in a 10-day image delivery, same-day prints, same-day slideshows, Italian handcrafted wedding albums and I have a mobile meeting space.
I am a full-time, internationally-awarded and WPPI-C certified professional wedding photographer based in South Texas near San Antonio. I offer a premier and personal service coupled with an unforgettable photography experience. I cater to clients who appreciate quality photography and help them to create family heirlooms that will last for generations.
I started Ata-Girl Photography Co., LLC in 2010. I firmly believe that the unique set of circumstances I have faced in life has prepared me to take a personal and genuine interest in my photography clients. I enjoy documenting the important milestones and captivating moments in people’s lives. I love being a part of people’s journey and consider myself privileged to document their legacies.
When I’m not photographing a wedding, I love to spend my spare time hiking, camping, cycling, reading, listening to Elvis and Prince. The most important things in life are for me to see my two daughters happy and to create a family history my grandparents and grandson would be proud of!
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