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had a “discussion” last night during our trip to Walmart to get our WPPI travel supplies.  I said I thought this would be my 3rd year to Vegas… he said “No this is definitely your 4th year!”. Really?! 4 years?! I remember my first trip to WPPI like it was yesterday! The desert, the neon lights, the LONG hallways and the overwhelming sense that you’re all alone. I feel like everyone is blogging and tweeting about how much FUN WPPI can be and only a few are telling the truth about how it can feel to a newcomer. My first year, I went knowing that I was the new girl…. and many cases, I STILL AM the new girl! There are photographers attending WPPI for the thousandth time

and that have been shooting for decades! I knew I would be the underdog my first year and I was ok with that. However, as soon as I started walking down the halls, I felt intimidated. Everyone looked so “Together” and they all knew where their conference rooms were and I was just lost. Twitter wasn’t really a “thing” yet and so I felt so out of the loop. Despite feeling overwhelmed, Jessie and I had a GREAT time our first year!  We giggled and stared when we saw photographers that we loved and we left with a ton of new information! We learned a lot about this industry and walked away with an abundance of flyers and “WPPI Discount Codes” for every vendor known to man! However, as fun as this first trip was, there are some things I wish I had known before my first trip to WPPI:

 

1.  Don’t try to do it all! Seriously, you just can’t. There is SO much offered and it’s impossible to incorporate EVERYTHING into your schedule. Pick your top classes and don’t worry about what you may be missing.

 

2. Make friends in LINE! Whether you’re waiting to hear JSTAR or waiting to get a carmel macchiato, TALK to the people around you! They aren’t going anywhere and you might as well use your time in line to make a new friend!  In 2010 I met some INCREDIBLE ladies in the line waiting for Jasmine’s presentation. It was just unreal!! We just sat in line and talked outside the conference for about an hour! And as AMAZING as Jasmine’s presentation was, I think meeting those new friends made more of an impact on my WPPI experience than her talk!  I think Jasmine would agree that making friends and forming relationships in the industry is WAY more beneficial than attending every single platform talk.

 

3.  Don’t wear huge heels!  As CUTE as they may be, wearing huge heels during the day probably isn’t the best idea. You will be walking from your room to the conference area at least TWICE and I seriously think it’s like a MILE LONG hallway! You’ll thank me for that one!

 

4. Enter the tradeshow looking for ONE THING! Last year I went into the Tradeshow ONLY looking for new packaging! That’s it! I stumbled upon a little booth called “H-B Photo” and I have felt like I have hit the jackpot ever since! If you enter the Tradeshow without a PLAN, you’ll be bombarded! …. Almost ATTACKED! This year I’m going to the tradeshow to find my current vendors and THANK THEM for how incredible they have been this past year! Then, I’ll be checking out the Kelly Moore Bags just because I’m obsessed. Michael I promise I won’t come home with a new one!

 

5. Put yourself out there…. as hard as it is… just do it. I met some incredible girls at WPPI and we are STILL friends today! Start conversations and invite new friends to lunch. After 3 years…I view WPPI as a reunion…. an expensive reunion. haha…. but it’s worth it! I’m excited to be inspired, meet new people and take home some new knowledge!

 

6. When you see a photog you LOVE…. don’t freak out… just say hello! You follow them online EVERYDAY…. and now they are 15 feet from you! Live in the moment and take the opportunity to say hello! They won’t think you’re STRANGE or STALKERISH! Bloggers BLOG for people to read it… so when they hear that people enjoy their work, it’s such a compliment! When I first met Jasmine, it was my FIRST year at WPPI and I was a Junior in college. I was young and excited and LOUD. I walked out of the elevator and there she was…. talking on her phone….. and I screamed. Yes. I screamed like a 12 year old girl seeing Justin Bieber for the first time. It was SO embarrassing and since she was on her phone, I could have walked away and spared myself even further embarrassment. But because I was young and obnoxious, I stayed there and waited until she was done with her call. (what?!).  I introduced myself, told her I just adored her blog and we took a picture…..  a year later I was emailing her to shoot MY WEDDING!!  And guess what, she knew who I was because I made a fool out of myself in the hallway at WPPI! So if you see someone you love…. say  hello and take a risk! You’ll kick yourself later if you don’t!

 

 

xoxo, Katelyn
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