08 February 2009

Photographer FAQ - How to Win Friends and Party With People

this morning, i got an email from a new friend of ours, sarah frenzel, and in her excitement regarding the up and coming wppi trade show, she noted "we'll catch up with you guys at WPPI. did you go last year? any tips for a newbie?"

what started as a quick response from the perspective of my opinion, really stopped me in my tracks and made me re-think the choices i made last year as a "newbie." and, in my humble opinion, whether you are a first year amateur (in the fast track photographer sense of the word) or a seasoned pro, we can all find value in asking ourselves a few questions to direct where we might spend our time & money.

if you are going to vegas, or any other work shop, or trade show for that matter:

do you want to come home with new contacts?
do you want to come home with new information?
do you want to come home with a new camera?
why are you taking the time to go?
what is it that you are hoping to receive from that investment?

if you know what you want to come home with, how to spend your time & money will become more clear. if you aren't clear on those things, it can become overwhelming pretty quickly, and other people will dictate where you should spend your time & money.

for carlie & i, at last year's show, we were most interested in meeting people who were starting out, just like us. so we spent our time talking to people, going to parties, having crepes & coffee with our new friends, and hanging out on the trade show floor. we also knew that we wanted to find a good deal on a rolling camera bag and a well balanced set of photoshop actions (having a "shopping list" before we got to vegas, saved us thousands of dollars no doubt). so, every category is fair game. just ask yourself, "why am i going? and what is it that i want?"

don't be afraid to be selfish, in a business sense. but also take the time to realize, that there are tens-of-thousands of other individuals, all rolling into vegas at the same time, who will be asking themselves the same questions and who are also looking out for number one. and since none of us live in a vacuum, my encouragement would be to see if you (and i) might be able to help a handful of folks leave vegas with what they were hoping to go home with... not necessarily out of any benefit to ourselves, but because you & i have a genuine interest in people.

i hope that helps.


  1. My tip is don't pretend you are too cool to go the platform speakers. Anyone, at any place in this business, can learn something from these! While I plan to have a super fun time and make a whole slew of new friends I also plan on getting myself out of bed every morning to absorb as much information as possible from people I look up to!

  2. Well said my friends. Well said :)

  3. Sweet post! Can't wait to have coffee with you two.

  4. Awe .. and we'll miss you guys this year!!
    Can't make it this year .. gotta save up and pay for my www.thelearnfest.com workshop!!

    Have fun!!
    Take care,

  5. hey meg! i couldn't agree more. it sounds like you are really clear on what you want to come home with; some of the freshest knowledge the industry has to offer. being clear on your values going into such a grand event will serve you well.

  6. extremely insightful... especially for a newbie like me. This post just calmed my nerves a bit.

  7. i love this post. especially the part about helping other people out. so cool.

  8. Hey Gabriel-
    Quick question. This is my first time going. I am going just for one day :0( Have to get my kiddos to school the next day. Dumb question... do you know if I can just go to the door and pay to get into the trade show? No worries if you dont know. Just thought I would ask.

  9. hey wendy! as for showing up the day of, you should be able to register for a day pass there in vegas. but you can also be on the look out for last minute, free passes. last year carlie & i got in free because kiss wedding books was offering free passes for the trade show only. i'm not sure of the deals this year, though i am sure they are out there.

    i hope that helps :)

  10. Thanks Gabriel!!

    Your right. I checked the kiss website and you can download a free pass. Have a great time!!!

  11. Awesome post! I wish I had read this before I went. I'm a newbie and this was my first time going to the tradeshow. I walked around, but was too shy to say hi to all my favorite photographers, the ones who continue to inspire me to keep going for my dreams. I totally regret it now. Next year I'm saying hi to everyone! :)

  12. what a great post! I especially loved the last part! you guys seem lovely!!