As a wedding photographer, WPPI is one of the biggest events of the year. From legendary speakers and classes, to amazing parties and socializing events, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy the entire week. Since attending WPPI can be a bit overwhelming, even if you have done it before, creating a plan is crucial to your success. Not only do you want to have fun, but you should also gain knowledge from experts, which you can take back to your business. To help you focus your time properly, here are the top 8 ways to maximize your time at WPPI, with tips from some of the industry’s pros!
1. Attempt Networking Everywhere
Although WPPI can be hectic and fast-paced, there are thousands of photographers who you can introduce yourself to. Classes and parties are great places to network with other photographers and vendors, but you should always be on the lookout for people to connect with. Whether you are in the lobby of your hotel, waiting for coffee, or relaxing before your next class, pay attention to those around you and don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation.
Photographer Scott Robert Lim recommends being open to networking at any point during the conference.
“Be proactive about socializing and always look for opportunities to talk to people. The very first year I went to WPPI, I booked a destination wedding by talking to a fellow photographer waiting in line for lunch.” – Scott Robert Lim
2. Build Meaningful Connections
Even though the conference rushes by quickly, strategically plan out your networking time to build meaningful connections with other photographers and vendors. Focus your time on connecting during the conference to avoid losing contact afterwards. This may mean you need to reach outside of your comfort zone to connect with people, regardless of your location. If you are unsure of how to start the initial conversation, try to find one thing to connect with them on which will leave an immediate impression.
Photography duo, Zach and Jody Gray, recommend spending your time building those relationships which can help you and your business.
“The real value of WPPI is in the relationships you build in the hallways, at lunch, and over a cup of coffee. Dave Ramsey (deca-millionaire entrepreneur) says that ‘where you will be in 5 years is dependent on the books you read and the people you meet.’ Get connected and take it past the surface level for a true life-changing time at WPPI.” – Zach and Jody Gray
3. Eliminate Business Pain Points
Because the conference is filled with fellow wedding photographers and educators who you are eager to meet, ensure your intentions of attending the conference are clear. Even if you have been in business for years and are doing well, there are always ways you can improve and grow your business. When you think of business pain points, what comes to mind? Are you spending too much time on wedding photography post processing or album design? With the photography industry continuously changing and advancing, use the conference and its education opportunities to fix business issues which cause you stress.
Andrew Funderburg, founder of Fundy Software, recommends writing down exactly what you need to improve in your business and planning your schedule accordingly.
“Sit down and make a list of your current business pain points. Are your product sales not as good as they could be or are your bookings not as high as they should be? Target these pain points, make a list and be sure to attend talks and visit vendors that assist with these pain points.” – Andrew Funderburg
4. Focus on Education
Although there are parties and other events to attend during WPPI, the conference offers more than that for photographers. Since it can become overwhelming to know exactly what you want to accomplish, stay focused on educating yourself on new topics and techniques you can use.
Boudoir photographer, Jen Rozenbaum, recommends maximizing your time with speakers and classes who can educate you and help you grow.
“There’s so much to learn from everyone. Be specific about what you want to get out of WPPI and find the instructors that cover that topic. Focus is important (Pun intended).” – Jen Rozenbaum
5. Develop a Specific Schedule
If you book too many classes on your schedule, and some even conflict, you risk missing out on classes and speakers who are perfect to help you and your business. Because there are so many excellent speakers with classes at WPPI, taking the time to write down who you need to see can help you maximize your schedule.
Sara France of France Photographers recommends writing out a specific schedule for your trip to the conference.
“Look over the schedule and map out the classes you would love to attend, and pre-board as many as you can to make sure you get a seat! Also, if you can watch the print competition, I think it really helps to hear what the judges have to say about each image and why they score the way they do.” – Sara France
6. Attend the Best Business Classes
Even if you heard about a class which is popular within the community, if it does not fit the needs of your business, it’s best to leave it off your schedule. Though it might be exciting to spend time with your photographer friends, avoid choosing classes just because others you know are attending them. WPPI is filled with pro photographers and educators who have expert advice on the topics you need to know about to continue growing your business. Take advantage of this time to really find classes that will benefit you.
Photography duo, Justin and Mary Marantz, recommend scheduling the best classes for your business needs.
“We have learned the most when we have chosen the classes based on what our business actually needs and who we have heard is a really good teacher. Be intentional about where you spend your time, and once you choose, be ALL in.” – Justin and Mary Marantz
7. Arrive Prepared and Rested
Because there are so many activities for you to attend during the conference, it can be easy to become overwhelmed. Instead of packing your schedule full, arrive prepared with a plan for each day, as well as some time to rest. The more prepared and rested you are, the easier it will be for you to stay alert for the classes and awake to attend some of the great parties the conference has to offer.
Wedding photographers, Ashley and Graham Scobey, recommend knowing what you want to accomplish before the tradeshow, as well as allowing yourself to relax and have some fun.
“In order to make the most of the experience (and not get sucked in and overwhelmed), we try to approach the week with a plan. We find that it helps us to schedule out our days as specifically as we can. A plan helps us feel ready to tackle the week, and we make sure to keep some margin in there for rest and impromptu fun.” – Ashley and Graham Scobey
8. Enjoy the Experience
Whether you attend every class you desire or meet photographers and vendors who can help you grow, absorbing the experience at WPPI is necessary for you to succeed. With a plan in place, you can attend the best classes for you and make time to network and socialize at parties and other events. Because this is one of the biggest events of the year for photographers, enjoy the experience and make it a memorable time with your fellow photographers.
Photographer Sue Bryce recommends spending your time at the trade show and attending parties to meet like-minded photographers and vendors.
“Give yourself a decent day to spend in the trade show; here you will discover so many incredible things in our industry that you might not get to see otherwise. Make as many friends as you can! You never know who you are sitting next to. Some of the most amazing people I’ve met in my career starting speaking to me at my first WPPI as complete strangers. Go to every party and meet as many people as you can!” – Sue Bryce
With the 8 suggestions from industry pros above, you can get started planning for this year’s event! Find out who the top speakers are to see, vendors to meet, and parties to attend when you download our free WPPI 2017 Show Guide!