Fresh off the heels of WPPI 2015, we wanted to hear the thoughts of past award winners and speakers on why they love coming to WPPI in Las Vegas year after year. Below is our Q&A with photographer Dawn Shields.
As past winner of the WPPI 2010 “Best Album” award, and the winner of the 2012 WPPI Humanitarian award, we wanted to hear Dawn’s thoughts both on why she loves attending the event annually and what she gains from the experience. While Shields is still very active as a photographer, she’s also the co-founder of Metropolitan Bride magazine and runs her own large bridal expos in Missouri and Oklahoma.
DT: As a publisher and a bridal show director, what role has WPPI played in each of your businesses?
DS: We’ve been really fortunate to have amazing WPPI members that shoot the inside spreads of our magazine and our covers as well—great photographers like Yervant and Bambi Cantrell. In terms of our bridal shows, we take away a great deal of knowledge from WPPI when we return to our own vendors. We’re able to give our vendors guidance on how to have a great trade show experience themselves, not to mention inspiration and the networking opportunities. WPPI has helped us a great deal in that regard.
DT: As a photographer, what did you take away from this year’s event?
DS: On the photography side of things, I was able to find some great lighting equipment that I desperately needed for my business. I found Tony Corbell on the trade show floor and I started asking him questions about lighting techniques and his recommendations, and he walked me over and showed me exactly what I needed for my kids fashion shoot for the next issue of my magazine.
DT: Was there a particular WPPI class or instructor that made a strong impression on you this year or last?
DS: Bambi Cantrell, Yervant and Jim Garner were all mentors to me through educational programs and friendship, so those three people come to mind immediately. I am forever grateful to each of them for all the direction, education and inspiration they gave me in my photography career.
DT: What projects are you working on next?
DS: I am looking forward to getting started on a couple of humanitarian photography projects in Nicaragua that are very important to me. One deals with the prostitution epidemic there, and the other concerns families living in extreme poverty and struggling to get by.
DT: What advice do you have for photographers who are new to the industry?
DS: If you’re new to the industry, or if you’ve been shooting for a couple of years and want to improve your craft, I recommend doing your research and attending as many classes as you can with seasoned photographers, photographers who not only actively shoot but also have a history of being great educators. We’re very lucky because our industry is filled with great photographers who are willing to share information, and those photographers can take months and potentially years off of your learning curve as you perfect your craft.
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