It’s Wednesday, 6 days since I landed back in Richmond from a week-long excursion to Las Vegas, and I still feel like I’m “catching up” mentally from all that I learned.
And, of course, when I say Las Vegas, what I really mean is WPPI (the huge wedding/portrait photography conference where 16,000+ professionals from the industry all come together to teach and learn and grow and celebrate all of the things we love about what we do). I didn’t really explore much of Vegas, itself, (I really had no interest) because I was focused on being there to learn. (Though we did have a pretty great view from our room at the MGM Signature, if you can’t tell.)
I went into the week especially wanting to learn more about the business/marketing side of things. And boy did I learn. Rather, boy did I take a lot of notes….and boy do I have a good-sized “to-do” list of all the things I need to do to follow up with the things I learned. To be honest, I’m not really going to delve into all of that too much, but here’s a bullet list of some of the top things I took away:
- I need to write a more clearly defined “belief statement” for my brand (learned from Tofurious)
- It’s OKAY to make decisions for my business based on what works for me and MY family/priorities, regardless of how others do things (via Jessica Claire)
- I need to dream bigger than I currently am – in my business, and also in my life (encouragement from Mary Marantz)
- I was reminded that what I do MATTERS, that a simple photograph really CAN change lives (inspiration from Jeremy Cowart)
I mean, those bullets don’t even really begin to summarize what I gained from each of those speakers, and the others I heard. But, by far, those 4 were the most impacting to me, and I’m so, so glad I sat in their sessions. And even got to talk with some of them, afterwards. I’m also SO grateful for all of the other amazing people I got to reconnect with, and all of those I had the privilege of meeting for the first time. I can’t even express how much EVERY part of the week – sessions, meeting new people, conversations with my roomies, etc – played a role in impacting what I gained.
I need to give a special shout out to the Showit community (my website company) that does SUCH an amazing job of creating community among photographers. It was so cool to be able to join in on some of Showit United (their own conference that was being held during WPPI) and make so many new friends. What an incredible group of people! They even do things like start off sessions by rapping, sometimes…!
It’s especially wonderful that my dear, dear friend Sarah is a Showit user, as well, and that we had so many opportunities to get quality time together during the week. I’m SO grateful for her friendship.
It was so great to run into Zach & Jody a few times, and get a little bit of chat time with them, too! There are few people who I admire more than these two, and the way they live out their faith, prioritize their marriage, and run their business.
One of the first photographers I ever started following, and consequently one that I was MOST looking forward to hearing was Jeremy Cowart. He’s an amaaazing celebrity photographer, and while I’m not aiming to be a celebrity photographer, myself, I gain so much by following him because his greatest passion isn’t his star-studded portfolio or his own incredible abilities. Rather, his passion is living a life that makes a difference and leaves a legacy of love and humility. He founded Help-Portrait, and always seems to be working on amazing projects that bring awareness or that benefit and serve others. Do yourselves a favor and follow him. He’s truly inspirational, truly genuine, and truly humble – and that’s a combination I highly respect and admire.
My cousin Justin (who lives in California, so I rarely get to see him) also happens to work for Zenfolio, and I just happened to FORGET THAT (awesome of me, I know). So, when we ran into each other in the hallway on the first day of the conference, I was shocked to see him. Haha. But, it was great to get a little chance to chat with him and hear all of the reasons why I should switch to Zenfolio…. ;)
I may have had a bit of fun with reflections from the cool doors to our balcony….
Korie was eating a cookie with a PICTURE on it! What will the world think of next?!
My curly-haired kindred! I love her.
And we BOTH love Chrissy, another sweet friend from Virginia. :)
I loved getting some time to hang out with Jackie & Cory (awesome photographers from Indy, who shot my cousin’s wedding – that I was in – back in December)
…and Jenna Davis, also an awesome photographer from Indy! It makes me feel closer to home to still get to hang with Hoosiers now and then. :) (A fellow curly-girl, to boot!)
I also really loved getting to meet and talk with David & Tammy Molnar! I started following them a couple years ago after they shot a friend’s wedding, and they’re every bit as cool in person as they are on Twitter. :) They’re yet another amazing husband/wife duo that are genuine and humble (and incredibly talented!), and I have much respect for them.
On the last night, we realized the week wouldn’t be complete without some room mate pictures! Laura was my travel partner and bed buddy, and since we both have the same “good side” of our face….this is what you get! Haha.
I could NOT have asked for more amazing ladies to get to room with, talk with, laugh with, and learn with. Thank you all for being so awesome! It was SUCH a joy to get to know each of you so much better. :)
Sarah and I also had a killer time with the ever-awesome Chris & Julie Massie (from right here in Richmond!) at the big Airplanes & Blazers party. I mean, did we rock this smilebooth OR WHAT?! Julie & Jenna Davis ALSO organized a FLASH MOB!!! And I was in it! I’d always wanted to be in one….so, whenever the official video is released, I’ll be sure to share it with you all. :)
It was a crazy and full week. And like I said, I’m still processing. But I’m SO glad that I went, and already so excited to (hopefully) go back again next year! :)
(P.S. Did I mention that one of my friends from here in VA got engaged and then MARRIED during the week? Yeah. That happened, too…. :)