This week we have been getting invitation after invitation on all our social media outlets and in our inboxes for meet ups, dinners and parties during WPPI (the world’s largest conference and trade show for wedding and portrait photographers) from all the amazing groups we are a part of in this industry, and every day we get a little more sad because this year we aren’t going. This year we chose Italy, but that’s a story for another time! Since we can’t make it this year, we decided to relive this amazing trip by sharing it with you!
For so long, we had been living in our own little world — loving on and serving our clients with our whole hearts all the while keeping our heads down and powering through our work. We didn’t spend our free time (is there such a thing?) going to industry happy hours. We didn’t have a blog to share what we’d been up to or our hearts behind this business and we rarely posted on social media. But worst of all, we didn’t have many friends in the wedding industry — friends who understand the late nights, long weekends and sacrifices we’ve had to make to build this business. And we had no idea how much we needed it.
Neither of us had ever been to a photography conference before — heck, we’d never been to VEGAS before! We had recently connected with our friends Matt and Carissa Kennedy, amazing photographers/educators from Vancouver and signed up for the certificate program through the International Academy for Wedding Photographers they run (to become certified wedding photographer!!) — and they were going to be there! Along with many of the instructors from the Academy!! We. Were. PUMPED. The decision was made. We just had to go.
Being first time conference goers we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. What we did know was that we would attend multiple classes each day where we would hear from some of the world’s most successful photographers. We would get to attend a trade show where we would have the opportunity to see and try the latest products from hundreds of different companies and probably come home with a few new gadgets. And we hoped that we would get to meet some of those amazing leaders and maybe, just maybe, come home with a few new friends!
So the first week in March of 2015, we headed to Vegas! We left so early in the morning we pretty much didn’t sleep, but our excitement kept us awake (and the large coffees we got at the airport). We arrived just in time to check into our room at the MGM Grand and then we were off to our first platform class!
Our first class was titled Behind the Veil: The Reality of a “Successful” Wedding Brand, led by the awesomely talented Zach and Jody Gray from Nashville, Tennessee. They challenged everyone to think about what success actually looks like and what matters most in our business and personal life. Is success having your work published? Is it going full-time in your photography business? We walked away armed with 6 keys to becoming successful along with some awesome training videos we just couldn’t wait to get home and watch! We even got a picture taken with Zach.
With our minds full of new information we spent the rest of the day talking about our business and how we can better serve our clients. We wandered around one of the trade show floors (there were two!) and checked out so many useful new products. After dinner we were both exhausted. Yes, we were those people — the ones that go to bed at 9:30 in Vegas. In our defense, it was 11:30 Minnesota time and we had only slept for 4 hours!
The next day we started bright and early at 8 am! After waiting in the massive line at Starbucks for our $18 coffee and muffins (did we mention Vegas is expensive?) we headed to our first class of the day, Social Media Addict with JP Elario. Here we learned how important social media can be for your business and different ways to utilize it. Let’s just say, we learned a lot! And look how awake we were!
Next, we headed back to the trade show floor to finally meet (in person) our favorite Canadian, Matt Kennedy (bottom left) and listen to him speak at the KISS Books booth! Matt touched on many different aspects of the wedding album from why they are important to your clients to tips on how to design them. Plus, he looks super cool when he wears a microphone earpiece. Before heading to lunch we made sure to stop by the ExpoImaging booth and introduce ourselves to another husband and wife team that we admire and adore, Amy and Jordan Demos from Scottsdale, Arizona. The best part about finally meeting these two was that when they greeted us, we were immediately treated like old friends with big smiles and even bigger hugs. It was like a reunion instead of a first introduction.
That afternoon we attended another platform class, Make Your Work Worth More led by another husband and wife team, Justin and Mary Marantz from New Haven, Connecticut. Mary is an amazing speaker. She pointed out “10 things that might be keeping you stuck” and so many of them really hit home. We even got to sit in the front row with Matt and Carissa and had the perfect view of Mary’s fabulous outfit (bottom right). She is one fashionable lady! Troy even won a business book from the raffle at the end! Woo hoo!
We attended a few other evening classes that day before enjoying another MGM food court meal. Of course, our trip wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t gamble a little, right? So we went all out and played slots. Let’s just say we went to bed early.
The highlight of our trip was definitely the time we spent with Matt and Carissa! Getting to know these two was so much fun. After Matt’s class in the morning (which we of course attended) the four of us met up for lunch. We talked all about our business, the brand we had just launched and our goals. This was the first time we had received feedback from anyone else in the industry about our brand and our website and it really opened our eyes (to learn more about how we implemented this feedback, check out our Brand Evolution story)! This meeting was what we needed to push ourselves into something better.
Afterward, we snuck away for some new head shots and our 9 year anniversary portraits. You guys, we had so much fun! It was so great to have a husband and wife team shoot us, to see how they work and interact with each other during a shoot. These two are a blast! Because we love these portraits so much, we can’t share them all here! Keep following along and you will see them in an upcoming post! For now, here are just a few!
Troy being…well, Troy.
Pretty sure this was one of Matt’s favorite images from the session.
Obviously we needed to take some selfies.
And some nice photographer walking by took this photo for us with Matt’s camera. Perks of being at a photography conference — passerby know how to use our fancy cameras!
The final day of the conference we once again got up bright and early to wait in the Starbucks line before heading over to our last class, Get Published in 5 Simple Steps, led by Amy and Jordan! This was their first time teaching a master class at WPPI and we were so excited to support them! We were some of the first people there so we were able to give them good luck hugs and snag front row seats! Look at how cute Amy is in her super adorable tulle skirt, holding that extra large Starbucks cup! Jordan, you look pretty dapper too! Since then, Ashley has been trying to find the perfect occasion to wear a tulle skirt. We left with so many tools for getting our work published we just couldn’t wait to implement them!
[Full disclosure – we stole the bottom right photo for the purpose of this blog post because we were SO EXCITED that we made it on their blog post about teaching their first master class! Photo cred: Melissa Jill]
After the master class we went went to a little meet and greet with Amy and Jordan, hosted by Showit (our amazing website company!) where everyone in the master class could ask questions and we could all get to know each other a little better. We stuck around until the very end — the conference was officially over and we didn’t want it to be! We just weren’t ready! But alas, all good things must come to an end. Of course, we couldn’t leave with out getting our first #demossandwich! Amy, we’re sorry your eyes are closed in this photo. We should have known better and taken a few. But you’re so cute we had to post it anyway. It’s a good thing that there will be many more pictures to come in just a few short months!
This trip truly changed our lives and made us think differently about our business. We left with a fire inside us that we hadn’t felt for way too long. We are so thankful for the friendships we’ve made and all that we learned! Can’t wait until next time!