I am finally getting some time to sit down and reflect on my trip to WPPI 2013 in Las Vegas in March.  When I arrived back from this trip, I jumped right into wedding season and since I was second shooting last weekend, I’ve had time to actually sit down and blog about it.

I went with my friend Mary, a photographer from Columbia, SC, and it was a blast.  We arrived in Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon, so we checked into our hotel and grabbed lunch before heading to our first class.  We went to Zach & Jody’s class on how to avoid failing as a small business, which was really good.  I was them speak at WPPI U in Atlanta last summer, so a lot of what they had to say was something I’ve heard before – but it’s ALWAYS good to hear it again because it just re-affirms what I’m doing with my business.

Monday was full of classes.  I started with Cliff Mautner’s class on wedding photography and it was amazing.  His work is beautiful and I loved hearing about his use of light.  One of the major takeaways I got from his class was that as a photographer, you need to set the stage for the moments to happen.  Leave the emotions up to the clients, but you need to control the setting + lighting.  Don’t worry about being a true photojournalist… it’s okay to set up or recreate moments if needed.  I loved hearing that and it has been something I’ve already implemented in my wedding day workflow.

Later that afternoon, I attended Kristen Weaver’s High Rollers workshop which was focused on shooting high-end weddings.  It was a small workshop and I loved being able to speak openly with the other attendees and Kristen. The biggest takeaway from her workshop was pricing-related.  Premium weddings make up 28% of the wedding industry, with budgets ranging from $30,000 to $95,000.  The average budget is $48,000 and the rule of thumb is that 10% of the entire wedding budget is what you should spend on photography.  Therefore, brides who are in the premium wedding category are spending between $3,000 and $9,500 on their wedding photographer.  Luxury weddings make up only 4% of the wedding industry, with budgets over $95,000 and an average of $130,000.  Therefore, they are spending over $9,600 on their wedding photographer.  Currently, my prices start at $3,000 but they will be increasing in the near future as I strive to break into the premium wedding market.  These are the types of weddings I want to photograph.

The last class of the day was my only disappointment of WPPI.  I won’t name the speaker, but the class was not at all what it was supposed to be about.  Kind of a bummer, since there was another class at the same time that I also wanted to attend… and from what I heard, that class was amazing.  Grrrrr.

Tuesday was another day full of classes and it started early with Katelyn James’ Posing Evolution Workshop.  It was amazing.  You can read more about it by click on the link.

Immediately after the workshop was over, I ran to catch the last half of Jose Villa’s master class and it. was. FABULOUS!  I got to meet Jose after class and he was so kind + gracious.  I am a HUGE fan of his work and after attending his class, I just want to be best friends with him.  So talented and so funny.  If I can ever afford it, I want to attend one of his workshops some day.  I can dream, right?

Next up was Laura Grier’s master class, which was really interesting.  She has really built her photography business around her passions in life, so it was really inspiring to hear her story and see how her wedding business works for her.

I finally saw Jasmine Star in person and she was amazing, as expected.  She just seems so approachable + humble.  And, of course, her work speaks for itself.  Most of her class included content from her most recent creativeLIVE course, reSTARt, but it was still cool to see her in person.

The last class of the day was Melissa Jill’s class on album sales.  I really want to emphasize the importance of investing in a wedding album to my clients because I truly believe they are essential in documenting your story.  I mean, come on… it’s your first family heirloom!!  So this was a great class and re-energized me to find ways to stress the importance of investing in these great albums to my clients moving forward.

Wednesday was our last day in Las Vegas and the last two classes I attended were arguably my favorite of the entire conference.  In the morning, I went to Sue Bryce’s class on portrait posing and it was SO GOOD.  Sue Bryce is a genius when it comes to posing women and so it was so cool to see her in person.  Her class wasn’t just about showing her own work and saying “look at what I can do” which was refreshing.  She actually had us participate and it was so much fun!  The biggest takeaway I took from her class was to direct your clients throughout the posing.  Don’t stop talking to them and don’t stop encouraging them.  I know from experience that being photographed can be awkward and the more direction you get, the better you feel.

The last class I attended was Brett Florens’ class on incorporating fashion with wedding photography.  I just loved Brett’s story and his honesty.  He was refreshing.  The big takeaway from his class was to show images that you love in order to attract the right clients.  If you attract the right clients, it will be easy to shoot the things you want to.  So true.

Overall, WPPI was amazing.  I met some great people, attended lots of amazing classes and workshops, got to experience a little bit of Las Vegas, and best of all – I got inspired.  It wasn’t as overwhelming as I thought it would be, which was great.  I heard a lot of things that validated the decisions I’ve made with my photography business, which was awesome.  WPPI was a great time and I’m sure I’ll be back there in the future.  Here are some of my Instagrams from the trip…