So it's that time of the year again; Vegas baby! For photographers Las Vegas holds a completely different meaning than it does to the general public. Most associate Vegas to parties and gambling, while I associate it with the big green building that is MGM and its lightly travelled corner where all the crappy convention centre facilities are (yes it's crappy, at best three star). Wearing a string around my neck holding up the badge that proudly displays Graphi Studio and your name and city. Mine will read Pickering Ontario and no one will know where the hell I am from. From the next two days I will spend cooped up in a room with 30-40 other people, watch as prints get displayed, judged and scores tallied. Lots of couples in sweeping landscapes, in the eye of a circular stairwell or other cliches. I will watch some politics happen in front of my eyes that I have no idea about but I will still hold my breath when my print shows up.
This year I have entered 8. Last year I entered a lot more. That has to do with our dollar. It is shitty compared to the American dollar. So the 8 entries plus printing and shipping is close to $1400. All in the name of education, prestige and bragging rights to say I won some awards, hopefully. When you think about it, it's not a bad value. As I learn quite a lot by going through the process of printing, color matching selecting and tweaking. Then sitting in the judging room as your print gets critiqued it's an exhilarating process. One in which I thrive and learn the most from. But you only learn if you actually make notes. This is now my fourth rodeo. And here are some things I've learned along the way.
My WPPI tips for newcomers:
-attend print competition judging; this is by far the most valuable thing at WPPI. If it's your first one, find the one that David Williams chairs, he will name drop inspiration and artists that can fill your entire years worth of reading.
-take copious amounts of notes and keep a journal of your learning.
-it's okay to take pictures of a presentation as long as you are not a dick about it, do it discreetly as if you have a sleeping baby on your lap. Don't pull out your d4 with your 70-200 clicking at every slide, that's bloody annoying. Don't do that.
-attend lesser known photographers debut presentations (platform classes) if the subject is interesting. I always research the speaker and see if they are truly passionate about teaching or if they are just looking for limelight. Some popular photographers are shitty teachers. I sat in a particular guy talking about head shots, and I wanted to punch him in the face for his pompous and ridiculous higher than thou attitude, waste of two hours. There are some well known photographers who are exceptions to this rule, I.e. Jerry Ghionis, Susan Stripling, Roberto V are all popular but good bets.
-Hakkasan for free! Dude! That's a pretty good deal, even it's a Monday and you don't get premium DJ or anything but you get to go to one of the premier clubs in the world for free. So don't complain, get dressed and go. And go early to the networking party and chill a little bit. Have fun.
- on the topic of networking, make it your goal to make at least 3 new friends. Don't ever eat alone, if you see someone else doing this, join them, I know some people prefer solitude but we didn't become landscape photographers, we are wedding photographers, our sustenance and fuel should be people and connections!
- the plus classes are good value if you are starting out and want to test the waters of a workshop. Bambi Cantrell and Cliff Mautner have been mainstays in this dept and are good choices.
-the trade show used to be great but not so much anymore. I don't know if it's because I am less enamoured by gear and products or because there is nothing exciting my senses in there? There are still some good stuff to check out, albums are always fun to check out but there are quite a lot more other stuff. The best part is trade show specials. Some companies have great offers that is only available on the trade show floor. Just don't buy the stupid massager thingie. Those are on eBay for 10 bucks. Do your homework and you can score a deal perhaps!
-there are lots of small meet ups and groups and fun stuff that happens. Like the fearless party, or the desert shoot out and other things. I would just ask around once you are there.
-the lobby bar in MGM is the default hangout spot sometimes. And it's not so bad.
What else, hmmm I will keep documenting my journey through this time. And this time I will post it online instead of keeping it to myself.
If you want me to look into something or have questions let me know. I will try my very best!