WPPI is one of the highlights of my year, and is in fact the country’s biggest professional photography conference. With more than 15,000 attendees, hundreds of vendors, dozens of workshops… it is just an event full of energy and excitement. Even more exciting is that I always get to meet incredible people with the backdrop of Las Vegas to set the tone!
This year’s WPPI was particularly eventful and life-changing for me. First, I had my very own platform class on “Fashion Flair for Portrait and Wedding Photography” (coinciding with the release of my new book). But even more important were my appearance on the Women in Contemporary Photography panel as well as being introduced as a new Sigma Pro.
I am proud to be Sigmas newest pro and thank Sigma for inviting me into the family!
When I began my love affair with photography at age 13, I started with nature photography. I shot macro of flowers, grand landscapes and travel images that were striking and really got my career started. These images were shot with a variety of Sigma lenses. Yet once I really started to dive into photography professional, my needs started to change. Eventually I became a portrait and fashion photographer, and I needed a certain toolkit that (at the time) Sigma did not fully offer. I needed fast portrait lenses, and moved into other brands to meet my needs.
Yet last year I was reintroduced to the Sigma brand and realized that they had MANY incredible professional lenses that now perfectly suited my needs. They have every lens I want, and of the upmost quality.
I have every essential lens to work as a professional fashion photographer:
- Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM
- Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM
- Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG HSM
- Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM
These four lenses take care of 99% of the images I take. Once I got the 85mm 1.4 in my hands, I was in love.
Anyway, after being reintroduced to the professional lenses Sigma now offers, I began shooting all of my fashion editorials and professional work with their lenses. At WPPI this year (2011) I was introduced as a Sigma Pro and my work was prominently featured at their booth. Eight of my photos (all shot with Sigma lenses) were HUGE at the showroom booth and even on big transparencies outside the conference center. It was an honor to be invited to be a Sigma Pro and they went above and beyond in making me feel like part of the family!
The other big event of the week was the Women in Contemporary Photography Panel, sponsored by Sigma. I was among several other successful women photographers invited to speak on this panel in front of more than 1,000 attendees. WPPI is an event for male and female photographers of every age and geographic region, yet in recent years there have been a surprisingly high turnout of aspiring female professionals in this traditionally male-dominated field. This panel event was intended to take some of the most successful female professionals in the photo industry, and put them together for motivating and inspiring conversation.
It really was a great time, and an honor to be on this panel. The panel’s moderator helped to steer questions about our successes (personal and professional) and to share insights to these successes with the audience. Using social media (Twitter) we could even field questions and comments from the audience.
It seemed that a lot of our conversation focused on how we budget our time, including segmenting our lives in order to accomplish goals and also how we find time to enjoy life with our friends, family and loved ones. We talked about everything from when we find times to answer emails, how long we spend social networking, how we make time for ‘personal time’, and even how we delegate our many business tasks.
We also discussed a great deal on marketing, particularly our tips for differentiation (finding your niche), maintaining business strength during a weak economy, and how to leverage social media for business growth and community building. We all seemed to agree that it is very important surround yourself with like-minded people. In your business you need to surround yourself with people who help you grow and reach your goals. Furthermore, the more you can reach out in the community, collaborate with other vendors and seek synergy, the greater staying-power you will develop. We all agreed that social media (including Facebook, Twitter and Blogs) is an important tool to reaching new clients and establishing our brand online.
Each woman brought a unique perspective and individual life experience to the table, yet overall I we agreed on many aspects of what make us successful: our passion, our personalities, our ability to manage time, and our focus on differentiation. It is extremely important to figure out what attracts people to you. Sell your specialties and your personality… clients don’t just hire a photographer for their work, but instead because something makes them stand out. Often this is a gravitating personality and passion.
After the panel I met dozens of aspiring female photographers who are passionate about their careers, and I see a lot of growth and positive energy for the future. It seems that this event was a hit, and I suspect you’ll see it offered again at future WPPI events.
Panelist include: Lindsay Adler, Jules Bianchi, Joy Bianchi Brown, Jessica Claire, Kay Eskridge, Catherine Hall, Sarah Petty, Dawn Shields and Jasmine Star.
Watch a clip of what went on during the conference!