WPPI 2021 was a success! After the pandemic knocked it out of its original timeframe in February, they decided to hold it in August. I was afraid the Las Vegas heat would be awful, but it wasn’t too bad. This year I stayed in the LYNQ hotel, and WPPI took place in The Mirage. While the stay was nice, and the hotel was a short walk away, I think I’d prefer to stay in the same hotel as the convention next time.
So, what is WPPI? It’s five days of all things photography. WPPI stands for Wedding & Portrait Photographers International. Every year they have an international photography competition and the judges are highly recognized in the industry and the world.
If you have a chance, enter the print competition. They have a category for everything, not just Portraits and Weddings. You can enter landscape, open creative, fashion, etc.
They have three competitions every year. The First Half, The Second Half, and The Annual Print Competition. The First half and Second Half are not print competitions. If you want to enter the Annual, you need to print your photograph you are entering by their specifications regarding size, and mount it on a 16×20 mat.
If your print scores an 80 or above it hangs in the Honors of Excellence Gallery at the Convention, and you receive points towards your honors of excellence designation.
You can sit in on the live judging of prints, which I HIGHLY recommend to hear feedback from the judges not just on your prints, but all others in the competition. This really helps you become a better photographer, and you start to understand what creates a magnificent photograph.
I will write a separate post about the competition because there is so much to cover.
Every year speakers and teachers come from all around the world to teach an aspect of photography or business. There are classes with limited seats you can purchase, seminars that are open to everyone, and photowalks with photographers who will show you how to photograph in certain situations with different skills and subjects.
There is a class for everybody, and I highly recommend looking over the schedule and booking early when it comes out. Many classes and photo walks get sold out quickly!
The actual show is the convention floor. They have exhibitors including Canon, Nikon, Sony, lighting companies like Westcott and Geekoto, album and print suppliers, wardrobe for your sessions, etc. They even have booths set up to test lighting and backdrops around the convention.
It’s a great opportunity to see what the industry has to offer, meet new friends and catch up with old ones. Enter to win various prizes and get promo codes from your favorite vendors. You can also buy lenses, cameras, and lighting gear at the convention. Just make sure you have room in your suitcase!
The Portfolio Reviews
This is honestly one of my favorite aspects of the show. You get to sit down with an industry leader to look over your work. This, so far, has been free to sign up for, which is simply amazing. I’ve truly taken away some of the best advice from these reviews. If you don’t want to enter prints into the competition, I highly recommend signing up for a review.
Honors of Excellence Gallery
The live judging is done the first two days of the conference, usually Sunday and Monday, and then they take all the prints that scored a silver (80) or above to be hung at the trade show for everyone to view.
It’s quite thrilling to see your own work next to other amazing photographers’ works, but also to view the prints themselves after watching them be judged is a great experience.
Every year they put on a themed party on Monday, a nightclub on Tuesday, and the Awards Ceremony on Wednesday. Three nights of fun and unwinding from a long day of classes and judging.
So how did I do?
I’m happy to say my goal to have one of my prints hanging in the gallery this year came to fruition! One of my favorite maternity portraits of Myah was displayed in the gallery along with some of the top photographers in the industry. I was so incredibly elated when the final score came up and I teared up a little bit.
I can’t wait until next year. If you’re a photographer who would love the experience of being around some of the best in our industry, take classes, and even enter the competition, mark your calendar for February 27th-March 3rd for WPPI! Hope to see you there!