Experience "Secret" WPPI: 7 Ways to get the most out of the convention

Photographers, are you getting ready for the WPPI convention (Wedding & Portrait Photographers International)?  Here are a few things we’re about to share:

– Details on attending one of the best workshops in the world for improving your imagery (and it’s free)

– Listen to some of your favorite speakers (without going to platform or plus classes)

– How to save approximately 50% on your hotel stay.  (Don’t worry—if you’ve already booked your hotel, there’s probably still time to cancel without penalty!)

– How to get discounts with vendors you are already using

– Canon users: Want your lenses cleaned and calibrated?  Camera bodies cleaned and checked?  How about having this done for $25/each (or potentially less) for up to four bodies/lenses?

Ready?  Here we go!

How to experience “Secret” WPPI: 7 Ways to get the most out of the convention (Official WPPI registration: Not required!)

1. Attend print & album judging!

This year, it takes place on the 19th and 20th of February.  If at all possible, make it a point to sit in and listen!  Judging is open to the public; so you actually don’t even have to be registered for WPPI at all in order to do this.  There are many different categories being judged at any given time; however, if you sit in on the “premiere” category, the judges are required to explain why they give each and every image its score.  If you’ve never done this before, sitting through image after image and seeing what it is that judges look for, what makes a strong image, what makes a weak image, etc. is invaluable in how you’ll view your own work from then on.  Technical mistakes you may not even have known existed start to become apparent (and therefore allow you to stop making them!) and perhaps best of all, you can see what literally thousands of photographers have submitted–meaning you have a great idea of what everyone else is doing, which gives you a great starting point for truly differentiating your work to make it unique.  In my opinion, sitting in on print judging is essentially being able to attend one of the best workshops in the world for improving your image quality, and it doesn’t cost you a dime.

2. Listen to speakers on the trade show floor!

Nearly all vendors provide a free pass to the WPPI trade show if you’re not officially registered.  When you walk in the doors, you should be able to find a program that lists trade show floor speakers along with booth numbers and times.  Sometimes there is absolutely fantastic information in these short talks!  We have even listened to someone’s platform talk, and then their small trade show floor talk, and better information has been given at the trade show.  You also have a much higher likelihood of getting a question answered when there is a small group of people at the trade show as opposed to hundreds or 1000+ in a large platform room.

3. Want discounts on products & services you already use?  Visit your current vendors at the trade show!

The trade show can be a great place to find new vendors, new products, etc. However, even if you aren’t looking for something new, many vendors offer trade show only specials that you can take advantage of even if you’re already a customer.  Do yourself a favor and stop by and say hello—check to see if any specials are taking place, and you’ll be able to take advantage of some great savings for things you would have been purchasing, anyway.

4. Is there a workshop you’ve always wanted to go to, but haven’t had the chance?  Look for/attend extracurricular workshops at WPPI

Been wanting to attend a workshop with someone, but they haven’t come to your town?  Perhaps you’ve been thinking about going to visit them, but once you factor in the expense for the workshop + travel and accommodations, it’s just not something you want to do, yet.  Check and see if they are offering a workshop right before or right after WPPI.  Many people do this, which eliminates the travel and accommodation expense.  What if you check and they aren’t officially offering something?  Why don’t you get in contact with them and ask if they will?  Sometimes speakers aren’t offering something extra because they don’t have time to get the word out and set something up.  If you come to them, problem solved for them—and problem solved for you.

5. Go to parties, events, get togethers, etc. Outside of WPPI!

There are always several things going on all day and all night every day of WPPI that have nothing to do with the official convention.  Parties, events, get togethers, shoots, the list goes on.  Go to as many as you can—find people from other parts of the country or even other parts of the world than you.  Find people who are well ahead of you in their business, find people at your same point, and find people who are in earlier stages than you.  You can help people out in areas where you have more expertise, as well as get great ideas for your own business to implement when you get back home from people at the same point or ahead of you.  Having a strong community is fantastic where you live–but it’s easy when people share their ideas that what everyone is doing starts to be quite similar.  Bounce some ideas and be inspired by people who are several states or even countries away from you and your business.  If you’re able to implement things back home that are completely different from what is going on at home, it can breath fresh air and new life into your business, and your clients will take notice.

6. Want to save roughly 50% on your hotel?

Two options:  One, visit vrbo.com (Vacation Rental by Owner) and get in touch with people who own units in the Signature Towers at the MGM.  Often times you can get a great rate, especially if you’re closer to booking time and they still have a vacancy.  These rooms usually also have a small kitchen in them, or at least a microwave, which can come in handy.  Second option, stay across the street at the Excalibur hotel.  Rates are usually about half of MGM rates, and the hotel is connected to the MGM by a bridge that takes you over the main street below.  I also have a coupon you can use (valid until 3/31) to save a few dollars more than the already super low rates!  And that code is: LOCALS.  That will give you nightly rates starting at only $28.  Niiice!

7. Canon users: Want your equipment checked and cleaned for free?

If you are either a gold or platinum level CPS member, bring your CPS card to the trade show along with up to FOUR camera bodies or lenses (Make sure you have their serial numbers registered on the CPS website).  Drop them off at the Canon booth beginning as early as February 19th at 9:00 am, but no later than February 22nd at 2:00 pm.  They will be ready for you to pick up, usually by the following day!  And did I mention—it’s free?  If you’re NOT a CPS member, join now at the gold level for only $100 per year.  In addition to taking advantage of up to four pieces of equipment cleaned and checked at the trade show, you’ll also get two coupons for having two more pieces of equipment cleaned and checked.  If you have 6 pieces of equipment done per year, you’ll be paying less than $17 for each, and on top of that you’ll also get discounted repair rates, and a few other great benefits.  Seriously, join now.  Nikon users?  I would guess that NPS may offer something similar; but I’m not a Nikon user, so I can’t speak to that from experience.  If you’re familiar with NPS and know of a similar setup, please let me know!

I hope these tips are as helpful for you as they have been for us!

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