After almost three weeks on the road, I’m back home in Seattle and settling in to the last day of my first week as a full-time photographer. Ever since I started this business last year, I’ve been looking forward to this moment. Let me tell you… it feels every bit as good as I imagined! I’m so proud to have built something this special and close to my heart with my own two hands and excited to see how the coming years will play out.
Vegas was a complete whirlwind. I think in the week I spent there, I probably had 4 hours total of “down time” in addition to each meager night’s sleep. It was my first time in Sin City, and I think I made the most of every second… it was worth the two days of recovery time required when I got home.
Thursday through Sunday, the Bees took Vegas by “swarm.” Thirty-five past and current Wedding Bee bloggers crashed at the Mirage for three days of partying, gambling, and shows. We played Wolverton and Wheel of Fortune nickle slots in the casinos and befriended group of gentlemen from Cypress and Istanbul there to play semi-pro tournaments for $300,000. There were dinners, brunches, and a reader meet-up at every type of Vegas eatery. We went to Chippendales and Cirque du Soleil the same night. Several of us tore through four bottles of Grey Goose in a VIP booth at club Lavo, dancing on platforms until we shut the place down at 4AM. It was raucous, authentic Vegas and I alternately loved and was horrified by every minute of it.
The Bees flew home Sunday and the WPPI conference started that night. Another intense four days of attending classes covering every facet of photography imaginable, walking the trade show floor to find my favorite vendors, listening to seasoned speakers share their experiences,and meeting friends and colleagues from far and wide. Of course, even a conference in Vegas can’t be without its share of epic parties. Airhorns and Lasers rocked my world, even if it was nearly a fiasco. (I lost– and later recovered– my wallet… and don’t get me started on the amount of time we spent running around aimlessly that night.) The ShootQ/Pictage/KISS party at Studio 54 was INsanely awesome. And though I didn’t make it to the SmugMug Slumber Party, I hear it was a riot…enough so that the suite got shut down for noise complaints!
My brain is so full of information and my hard drive so full of photos, that it’ll take me a bit to make heads or tails of it all. WPPI was, without a doubt, worth the investment and probably the most educational and socially valuable experience off my career thus far. I came away with a wealth of information about branding & marketing, off-camera lighting, wedding day workflow, portrait techniques, pricing metrics, album design, boudoir poses and studio decoration, and… uh, LOTS more.
What finally came to life for me, the beating heart at the center of it all, is how to truly stand out from the crowd by providing the very best for the incredible people who choose me to help tell their story. On the one hand, WPPI helped me figure out exactly how to offer new and unique photography sessions, indelible service, the highest-quality printed products. On the other hand, it taught me how to do all this while honoring my commitment to be true to myself to my business: to let my love, passion, and self shine though my photography; to be selective about the work I do and who I do it for, finding clients who are the best fit and likely to be long-time friends; and, above all, having fun, sharing joy, and creating memories to last a lifetime.
There will be lots of changes coming in the next two weeks… a new website, new photo sessions, new pricing, and lots more. Stay tuned!