Where do I even start? Last year when I went I was 30+ weeks pregnant, drug my husband along and was so completely overwhelmed wishing I had some direction prior to going. Here are my biggest tips for hitting up WPPI and making the most out of it!
1. Wear comfortable shoes. There is a lot of walking. A lot. Maybe I just remember this so much more prominently since I was pregnant but it is a lot of walking. The conference center itself is on the opposite end of the MGM from regular rooms and the center itself is massive.
2. Don’t rely on internet or cell. I had planned on working in between sessions but was unable to get my cell phone to work nor the conference center wireless internet.
3. Pre-board for classes. This is probably a little behind the curve with the date I am publishing this post but try to pre-board your classes so that you are guaranteed a spot. Last year, I made the last minute decision to go to WPPI and was unable to get into any (but one) of the classes I truly wanted to.
4. Take business cards. This is another tidbit I wish I had known. This is a great networking event to get to know other people. I still have the business cards from those I met last year. Come home, check out their work, introduce yourself via email again. Get to networking!
5. Stay close by. We stayed in the main portion of the MGM, but even that is super far (in my opinion). I strongly suggest if you are going to be hitting up all classes and events to try to stay as close to MGM or in it as possible. This is where I would also recommend getting in at the Signature <if able> to be close + use their kitchen facilities to avoid eating out every meal. There is a grocery store right down the street to snag snacks.
6. Get your badge scanned. At a variety of booths in the expo, they will scan your badge and send discounts and incentives after the event has ended!
7. Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Whether it is someone who is well known or another photog. Speak up. Get to talking. Network. (See #4 about business cards). This is where I’m going to tell my embarrassing story. My husband and I (remember 30+ weeks pregnant and huge) were walking down the corridor, and we saw Jasmine Star + JD walking towards us. I knew I wanted to say Hi! but I felt a bit nervous (imagine me – who talks all the time!). So I literally jumped in front of them, huge belly and all…and just stood there. Mouth open. My husband later told me that in his head he was screaming “say something, Rachel, SAY something.” And I did. I don’t even remember what I said. But now I know when I see them in Vegas this time *I* will feel embarrassed. But who cares? We got to chit chat. I’d rather regret making a fool than not talking at all. So if you see someone you admire. Do it. Talk to them. Relax.
8. Reconsider carrying camera equipment. Unless the class or event you’re attending requires you to have your DSLR, it’s just extra baggage. It’s busy. It’s cluttered. There is no real room (or energy) to lug it around unless you absolutely need to. (Maybe consider a point and shoot *gasp*.)
9. Identify the booths you want to see. Last year I thought, hey I will just wander until I find the booths I want. Wrong. I ended up missing speaker-in-booth events and other goodies. Check out the social media sites and websites of the vendors you want to check out and put it into a calendar.
10. Carry a pad of paper + pen. Always good for taking notes during the classes – and never know if you need to scribble some information down.