At the beginning of 2014, we knew this would be our biggest travel year yet, with business stops in Santa Barbara, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Dublin, Fort Meyers, and Nashville… and that’s just what’s already on the calendar! Needless to say, we’ve been making friends with every frequent flyer and hotel rewards program available, and getting good use out of that matching luggage set we registered for five years ago. Two weeks ago, we attended the United 2014 conference in Santa Barbara and were blown away. Last week, we flew to Las Vegas for WPPI, the world’s largest conference and trade show for wedding and portrait photographers, not really knowing what to expect. It became pretty clear pretty quickly that from early in the morning until early into the next, all of our time would be spent doing three things:
1. Attending platform classes and hearing from some of the world’s most successful photographers, learning all we could in order to come home, implement right away, and improve our business so that we can serve our clients even better.
2. Walking on the trade show floor, pursuing and testing hundreds of photography companies’ latests and greatest products, and taking a few things home with us to start using right away to continually enhance our client experience!
3. Hanging out and reconnecting with industry friends from all across the country who we rarely get to see in person, but love so much.
Since we were still in the classroom full-time last year, this was the first time we were able to attend WPPI and, wow, is it large, loud, and chaotic! As WPPI babies, we were SO thankful that our dear friend from Phoenix, Melissa Jill, invited us to go with her. She was our guide and chaperone extraordinaire, advising us on everything from where to stay, what to eat, and how to get from one place to the next in the shortest amount of walking time, because there was A LOT of walking! Without her, we would’ve made rookie mistake after rookie mistake, so we’re thankful to have a veteran on the Phoenix photography team who was willing to show us the ropes — even if she couldn’t save us from the $9 slice of pizza or the bare butt we saw on the hotel escalator! We love this girl with all of our hearts, and had so much fun being “roomies” for the week!
The first morning, we got things started off right and attended one of our favorite classes of the entire week taught by two of our newest friends and some of our favorite people & photographers in the world, Justin and Mary Marantz, from New Haven, Connecticut. The title of their class was A Business Built on Why and it challenged every photographer in the room to define exactly why we’re in this business in the first place, why we’ve dedicated our lives to doing what we do.
We talked FOR HOURS after this presentation and decided that, more than anything, Justin and Mary’s presentation helped us reinforce our why. We believe in love and marriage with all our heart and we desire so deeply to preserve that love in its happy, raw, joyous, unfiltered, emotional state for our couples that’ll leave their grandchildren and great children, while they’re here on this earth and long after they’re gone, saying, “Wow… Look how much Grandpa loved Grandma.” For us, it’s about helping couples tell a story and leave a legacy of love that’ll trickle down their family tree, saturate its roots, and grow stronger branches with each generation.
Since we were one of the only married couples in the room, we got pulled on stage to help Mary demonstrate how she poses couples naturally to capture their real relationship instead of some forced prom pose. She told Jordan he could whisper what he loved most about Amy into her ear. Without skipping a beat, he leaned in and whispered, “Your Pebbles Flintstone ponytail when you go to bed at night!”Obviously, not what Amy was expecting to hear, so we both immediately lost it. And in that moment, creating a perfect picture of our love. Well played, Mary, well played…
We also got to reconnect with so many of our friends from our Shoot & Share family who we’d just seen the week earlier at United in Santa Barbara! The man in the upper left corner is none other than Timothy Eyrich, an insanely talented photographer from Nebraska, all around nice guy, and the man responsible for turning Jordan’s ugly mug into a piece of art.
The pretty little lady between us in the lower left corner is our friend, Kelly Lemon. We met her at United a few weeks when she attended the mock engagement shoot that we led for photographers, and we fell in love with her heart, personality, and incredible story. Due to a car accident when she was young, one of Kelly’s arms was paralyzed, but that didn’t stop her from doing what she loves. She is a successful wedding and portrait photographer in Seattle, Washington, who says, “I’ve taken a two-armed art and made it a one-armed passion.” This girl. Wow. That’s some serious inspiration.
By now, you probably recognize Katelyn & Michael, and Justin & Mary, two of our favorite husband and wife teams in the world, and two couples who have us seriously considering flying all the way across the country for an epic double date. We are so thankful for their friendship, wisdom and great senses of humor and loved every second we got to spend together.
And that smiling face in the corner? The one and only Andrew Barlow, who kidnapped our hearts with his very first smile in Santa Barbara, and who feels like a lifelong friend after only two weeks. We karaoked (is that a verb?) our lungs out with him, and wish we could have packed him in our suitcase and held him hostage in Phoenix so that we could keep hanging out.
We love this community so much! We feel blessed by every smiling face that we got to spend time with on this trip. The highlight of these conferences never ends up being the amazing classes or the incredible knowledge, it’s always the people who make it truly unforgettable.
We stopped one afternoon for a quick photo outside the trade show. We’ve discovered that the best part about traveling to a place with a bunch of other photographers is that you can approach ANYONE at ANYTIME and say, “Hey, can you take a picture for us?” and they know how to use our big, expensive camera, so we can get something other than iPhone shots every once in a while!
Another highlight? That time when Amy cried like a baby after our friend, Katelyn James, from Richmond, Virginia (upper left on stage and lower left with her awesome husband, Michael) gave a powerfully emotional talk to her packed audience in which she said through tears herself and a crackling voice, “Our businesses have to be more than just money-makers. They have to be life-changers.” Boom! There wasn’t dry eye in the place. We’re excited to connect with Michael and Katelyn again later this month at a marriage retreat for photographers! We can’t get enough of them.
As WPPI babies, we didn’t get invited to any cool industry parties, but we had friends who got invited to cool industry parties, so we got to tag along like little puppies at their heels and hang out in swanky Vegas balcony suites overlooking The Strip. Check out some of the views below. Holla!
One of the best parts of our trip was supporting our friends who were platform speakers and literally brought down the house in front of hundreds of peers from all over the world.
We don’t have any photos of Trevor Dayley‘s class, mostly due to the late night karaoke adventures from the night before, but he rocked his class, and we have nothing but mad respect for him and the way he leads in our community.
Melissa Jill (left) talked about how to create a successful associate photography program and Matt Kennedy (right) explained how he spoils his clients from start to finish. We’ve gotten to know Matt and his beautiful wife, Carissa, over the past few weeks, and we’re so thankful for their example of how to run a successful business while still putting their faith, marriage, and three kids first. Sharp dressers, too, eh?
As Shoot & Share photographers, PASS is the company we use to share our images with our clients and we LOVE it! So, we spent a few hours every day on the trade show floor talking to other photographers about PASS and why, for business and philosophical reasons, we believe that every photographer should share the high-resolution digital files with their clients and include it in their up-front pricing.
Since this was our first time at WPPI, this wasn’t planned — at all — but, on the last day, one of our friends lost her voice and couldn’t speak, so on a moment’s notice, we got asked to replace her at the Shoot & Share Theater on the trade show floor. Check back later this week for the whole story of how things unfolded and how WE ended up on stage our first time around! A very special thank you one of our newest, sweetest friends, Taliah, who we adore (top center photo below), for grabbing our camera in a pinch and giving us some awesome photos of our time on stage to share with you guys later this week and our dear friend, Alisa (bottom left) for all her sweet encouragement and support!
We made so many memories with so many friends last week. It was hard to say goodbye because it felt like the end of summer camp, but we had an almost storybook ending to our time in Las Vegas, a night of group karaoke under the lights of The Strip that went until well past midnight. We’ve never had so much fun belting out Sweet Caroline and Don’t Stop Believing, doing the limbo, marching in a conga line where some mysterious man’s 60-year-old hands made their way INTO Jordan’s coat and ONTO his hips (we have video evidence), and dancing and lip-syncing to boy band hits from the early 2000′s.
But we’re so glad to finally be back home for a few weeks where we can put everything we learned into practice and be the best wedding photographers we can possibly be for our amazing clients here in Arizona! It’s always so good to be home!