Okay, I know itâ€™s been a month since WPPI, but I have just a few more thoughts to post and then weâ€™ll move on. Itâ€™s about time to start posting images again!
I call this the “name dropper” post because as I mentioned in the previous post, one of the nice things to come out of WPPI was the reinforcement of the great group of friends I have. I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about some of the things I did there and some of the people I hung out with.
I went out to WPPI a few days early because I wanted to get out of the house and work on my presentation without distraction. I guess most people would say that Vegas doesnâ€™t really qualify as a distraction-free environment, but actually I was pretty disciplined about it. I was talking to my friend Emilie Sommer on the phone on Friday and told her I felt like the school kid who had to stay in at recess and do his homework – I could look out the window of my hotel room and see the strip, but I couldnâ€™t go out and play! I was in Vegas for almost a full week and I never even walked down the strip or saw the Bellagio fountain! Most of my time was spent between the Westin Hotel and Ballyâ€™s.
Nobody told me that this speaking stuff was such hard work! It really takes a lot of time to put together a coherent two-hour platform presentation! I had the majority of the content put together before I left for Vegas, and most of the time I spent working on it there was going through images and trying to put my slideshows together. I showed 5 slideshows during the presentation, most of which were about 5 minutes in length, except for the opening portfolio. It took a lot of time, at least for me, to go through and select images for these shows, then put them together.
I did manage to get out a little bit and spend some time with friends.
I flew out late Wednesday afternoon and got in early that evening. Gotta love the 3 hour time difference going out there. It sure does suck coming back though!
Shortly after arriving, I got a call from my friend Cliff Mautner, who was in Vegas early to teach a two-day WPPI plus class. Cliff is a former Philadelphia Inquirer photographer and an outstanding wedding photographer in the Philadelphia area. He invited me to join him over at Ballyâ€™s for drinks along with world class photographers Marcus Bell, Joe Buissink and Yervant. It was great to spend a little quality time with a group of photographers I consider among the best in the world. Not only are they great photographers, theyâ€™re nice, down-to-earth people as well.
There was another photographer at the table with us, a young guy from Canada named Jesh De Rox, who probably has the coolest name in photography. I was familiar with some of Jeshâ€™s work from seeing it on the Internet, but I had never met him in person. Jesh is a very cerebral photographer whoâ€™s images have a very unique and artistic look. Jesh definitely has an interesting personal perspective on photography and it was great to get to know him better. Little did we all know at the time that just a few days later he would clean up in the WPPI photography contest by winning a number of prestigious awards.
On Thursday I spent most of the day working on the presentation. My friends Brooks and Leighanne Whittington from Dallas got in Thursday afternoon and I joined them for dinner. Brooks is a buddy from the very beginning of my career in wedding photography, in fact it turns out that he has relatives from my home town and there is a slight possibility that we may even be related. Scary!
On Friday, again I spent most of the day in my room working on the presentation! Rick Brotherton and his wife Monica flew in Friday afternoon to attend the Dave Matthews concert over the weekend. Rick is the designer who created my new logo and identity package. It was great to meet them and hang out for a bit Friday night.
On Saturday I slipped out to sit in on some of the open judging at the WPPI print competition. I didnâ€™t enter any prints in the competition but Cliff was a judge in the Photojournalism category so I wanted to check on him and make sure he was making the right choices .
One thing that became clear to me while looking at some of the prints is that many wedding photographers and even a few of the judges, still donâ€™t have a clear idea of what wedding photojournalism is all about. Photojournalism is about story-telling and moments. Itâ€™s less about perfection. By that, I mean that photojournalism should be about capturing great story-telling moments that reveal something about the subject. Itâ€™s less about perfect exposure, composition and sharpness. I saw a few prints that I thought were really nice moments get graded down because a judge became distracted by some minor technical detail. Cliff did a nice job of trying to keep everyone reminded that the PJ category should, perhaps, be judged on different criteria than some of the other categories.
On Saturday night, believe it or not, I stayed in my room and kept on editing images. My buddy Matt Mendelsohn arrived around 2am, after a two-hour flight delay from Washington National.
I spent most of Sunday finishing up the trade show presentation I was doing for liveBooks on Tuesday. Matt and I were walking over to Ballyâ€™s for lunch when we ran into my friends Jeff & Julia Woods in the lobby.We ended up having a big group for lunch over at Mon Ami Gabi that included Parker Pfister, Brook and Alisha Todd, Brooks and Leigh Whittington, Cliff Mautner, and a few others.
Sunday night the liveBooks crew hosted a dinner for all the photographers that were speaking for them. It was great to meet all the people that run liveBooks and see firsthand their commitment to their product and clients. CEO Andy Patrick is also the founder and Executive Director of FiftyCrows, a foundation created to support unbiased documentary photography and reporting. I think its great that liveBooks has a CEO that not only runs their business, but understands and supports the larger issues in our profession.
I also got to meet liveBooks founder Michael Costuros as well as VP of Marketing Tricia Holmes.Tricia is the one who made it possible for me to be there and I appreciate it very much. Tricia was an executive at Adobe before coming over to liveBooks, so she has a solid background in dealing with the needs of photographers. I also finally got to meet J Sandifer, who is in charge of wedding markets at liveBooks. J is a former Pictage guy, and Iâ€™ve heard his name for quite some time and talked to him on the phone a few times. It was great to finally put a face with the name. J is also dating my friend Emilie Sommer and Iâ€™m honored to call him a good friend now also.
liveBooks had invited a great group of up and coming photographers that included the crew from LaCour, Mr.SimplePhoto.TV himself Dane Sanders, Gene Higa, Garrett and Joy Nudd, Jared Platt and Isaac Bailey, Peter Holcomb and Katie Van Buren.
Monday was the big presentation day, and I will post on that separately. Suffice to say the day was spent polishing up the show and was not without its share of stress! More coming later on Monday events…
On Tuesday, I did my liveBooks presentation at the trade show. Its interesting speaking at the trade show because you basically start with little or no crowd, so it sort of feels like youâ€™re talking to yourself. Fortunately a few people I know showed up including Tina Carter, Dennis LeeÂ and Dan Epstein. Pretty soon as people walked by and saw what was going on, there was a suitably large enough crowd. It was fun and I thought it went pretty well.
The rest of the afternoon I spent walking around the trade show checking out new products.
On Tuesday night Adobe LightRoom Marketing Director Jennifer Stern and LightRoom Product Manager Tom Hogarty hosted a great dinner at the fabulous Tao Restaurant in the Venetian for all the speakers Adobe sponsored at the show. Needless to say this was an all star cast of wedding photographers that included Denis Reggie, Bambi Cantrell, Marcus Bell, Jeff & Julia Woods, and Parker Pfister. It was truly an honor for me to be included in this group. Fortunately I knew all these guys already and we had a great time. I also got to meet Ed Pierce, who produces the PhotoVision educational series of DVDs.
Although she wasn’t at the dinner, I also got to meet Adobe Evangelist Julianne Kost. I love hearing Julianne speak. She has a great sense of humor and makes learning nerdy stuff fun!
I left the Adobe dinner a little early to attend the platform presentation by Cliff Mautner. Cliff has been so supportive and helpful to me and is one of my best friends. I had to be there for him. He did a great job and kept everyone entertained as well.
After seeing Cliff, I joined a reunion get together for all the folks who attended the Foundation Workshop. It was great to see everyone again.
Shortly afterwards I had to catch a flight home to get to a corporate shoot on Wednesday night.
Whew! Did I drop enough names? I met so many people itâ€™s impossible to include them all. If I left anyone out, I do apologize! Itâ€™s really great to have such a network of friends and colleagues. I value them all! There were many other people and things I wanted to see and just didn’t get a chance to. Dang!
So anyway, that was my WPPI. 5 days of work, 1 day of play!