Below is my March Rangefinder column, and since some of the information is particularly timely, I wanted to share it with you now. It will also help as a useful guide once you arrive in Vegas!
It’s my job to make sure everyone who attends WPPI has the best week of their lives! Here are 17 things (yes, I like odd-numbered lists) you need to do to get the most out of this year’s #WPPI2014. I’ve even made it easy and put your task list in chronological order.
1. Give me a high five! My No.1 goal is to give everyone who attends WPPI a high five and thank them for coming. That’s right: 20,000 high fives! Wherever I am, high five me. Help me reach my goal!
2. The official hashtag for WPPI this year is #WPPI2014 – learn it, live it, love it! Search Twitter and Instagram for all the goings-on while you’re in town. This is a great way to see what everyone is up to, and find out what our partners are doing!
3. Download our app! It’s got it all! AND, if there are any last-minute changes, they will be updated there. Do it now, before 20,000 photographers arrive and suck up every bit of available bandwidth. Find it in the app store or go here.
4. If you haven’t purchased some water, snacks and a case of Chapstick, don’t wait! Drop your bags, grab your wallet and get to the store. Keeping properly hydrated and those sugar levels up will ensure a great week. There’s a CVS, a Walgreens and a gas station very close to the hotel! There’s also anythingyouwantdelivery.com, where you can get anything you want right to your door…which leads me to #5.
5. Take a nap when you arrive. This is a ritual for me. This will be the only time for the next seven to ten days when you’ll get to take a nap. Seriously, when was the last time you took a nap in the middle of the day? No screaming kids, work emails, no nothing! Silence. Do it while you’re waiting for your delivery! You’re welcome.
6. Have a plan. We have hundreds of hours of classes, but obviously you cannot attend them all. Map out your days and come up with a game plan that is realistic.
7. If you can get here early, take one of our PLUS classes. They start on Thursday, February 27, and run for two days. Day two is at the Nelson Ghost Town, and promises to be a great day of shooting, learning and having fun. This year will not disappoint, with presentations by Roberto Valenzuela, Sandy Puc’, Ryan Schembri, Rocco Ancora and Zack Arias. There may not be any seats left at this point, but if you email me and say, “SQUEEZE ME INTO A PLUS CLASS,” you never know, I just might have some pull.
8. Attend the print competition judging! For two days (March 1 and 2), 50 judges from around the world will be critiquing your work LIVE. The judging is separated into six rooms, with the world’s experts in those categories scoring your work! Ask anyone involved—it’s a passionate two days, as well as one of the most unique learning experiences you’ll ever have. And, there’s no additional charge to attend; all you need is your Full Conference Pass (which you have the chance of winning for free in our Facebook giveaway)!
9. If you’re looking for a great jumpstart program, join us for WPPI-U (Feb. 28 and March 1). This year we’re featuring a program mixed with classroom AND hands-on demos. Watch and participate in live lighting and studio demos by some of the best technicians in the industry. These two days of solid fundamentals are sure to help you grow to the next level.
10. WWJD: What Would Jerry Do? This will be Jerry Ghionis’ second installment of our Saturday night conference launch! Last year we learned, we laughed and danced; this year will be even better. Jerry’s got a whole new series of lighting and shooting challenges to demo, and the best part? The event is open to all of you… I know you’re exhausted already, but we’re just getting started!
11. Take a Master Class! It’s not too late! Many have at least a few spots left, and for between $55 and $65, how can you go wrong? Our Master Classes are limited to 50 people and are two hours long. Each class is specifically designed to reach a small audience and be very up close and personal. Classes start on Sunday, March 2 and run all the way through Wednesday, March 5.
12. One word: HAKKASAN! We are throwing our opening night party at the it club in Vegas, Hakkasan! This newly renovated nightclub is the hottest club in the world! Seriously folks, do not miss this party, or any of the other night-outs we have planned.
13. Monday night. Get ready for our first annual members-only meet-up! As I’m writing this, we’re still working on the details, but it’s going to be a great perk for those of you who are members!
14. Speaking of that, it’s not too late to become a member! Starting Sunday afternoon, come by our Members booth (outside the Marquis ballroom), and find out all the great things we have to offer. We’ll also have some great giveaways, including our exclusive #WPPI2014 T-shirt!
15. Two words: MARK SELIGER! We’ve done tons of great special events over the years, but it’s been a while since we’ve had a keynote presentation. That said, it’s WPPI, so I wanted to make sure it was fun yet also inspiring and educational. This year, Mark Seliger will give our keynote on creativity in photography. If you’ve looked at a magazine cover in the last 20 years, you’ve no doubt seen his work, and his seminar will be equally inspiring. As an added bonus, he’ll be performing with his band, Rusty Truck. His music is as beautiful as his work, set along to a series of videos he produced that are simply magical.
16. Don’t miss our awards ceremony on Wednesday night, March 5. Our closing night program is like the Oscars for photographers. It’s always an incredibly emotional, inspiring and fun evening. Come dressed to kill! We’ll have our own red carpet, cocktails and yummy food. If you’ve never attended, I promise this is the best way to finish off a week of jam-packed education and fun.
17. Wait. Where are you going? Don’t forget about Thursday! We have an entire morning of great platforms. Take the late plane home!
Of course, I left out the obvious stuff like taking along tons of business cards, something to write on and with, and comfy shoes. I challenge you to branch out and make some new friends! This is YOUR big fat photography family. Every year it grows, and we hope it continues to be your annual rhythmic pilgrimage!