Sunday, I drove down to Vegas to attend WPPI which is the largest convention of wedding and portrait photographers in the world.
It was a last minute trip due mostly to Rebecca Crumley over at the Knot. She has been my contact over at the Knot and who I have worked with when they have published my weddings. Our "virtual" relationship began in 2005 with a wedding I shot up at Sundance. We had never met and she said she emailed me to tell me about an upcoming contest they were having and mentioned she was going to wppi and asked if I wanted to meet up. SURE! She said she had time to meet up so I jumped at the chance to finally put a face to the virtual email and to get a chance to personally thank her for considering my work. We met up and it was really great to finally meet her. So great.
Day 1 = awesome.
Monday morning, I headed over to hear Michael & Anna Costa speak who are film shooters as well. I decided to sit on the front row and that is where we met Brion Hopkins who was assisting Michael & Anna with the presentation. I also ran into Stacey and Anna who went through the photo program at BYU with me. We ended up hitting it off with Brion and hung out the rest of the time we were there. His commercial work is out of this world.
The presentation was fantastic as expected. During it, Michael and Anna had everyone attending (400+) put their business card in a bag and it was brought up front. They chose 1 card randomly and the winner would receive a mentoring session with them/lunch. After they chose the random 1, they then laid out all the business cards and chose the card they felt had the best design. Well, lo and behold, they chose my card. Unfreakingbelievable...
The mentoring session would be Tuesday at 11:30...more on that later.
Monday afternoon I had received a phone call from Paul Gero. We also had never met but he asked if we could meet up and he'd buy me a drink (Shirley Temples of course). We were supposed to meet up at 3 but it did not work out as I was a bit late due to a lunch with a bunch of other photogs I know from a forum. I ended up over at the Finao booth talking to Paul (one of the owners) and showing him my workshop workbook to also thank them for providing such a great book. I felt really bad and I did not want to think I was a jerk and totally shafted him so I offered to buy him a drink this time and meet up after Jose Villa's (another 100% film shooter) presentation on being published.
So we met up after the presentation at the Tequila Bar in Paris where I promptly ordered a Shirley Temple for me and Paul a drink. We were not sitting down for more than 30 seconds and 2 people came and just plopped down at our table. At first I was a bit bewildered as 1. I had no idea who Paul was (I just assumed he was another film shooter wanting to talk shop) and I wanted to give him my full attention and 2. this table we sat at fit 4 people and it was already 2 with me and Paul.
Paul then proceeds to introduce them saying "this is Amy Deputy and Matt Mendelsohn".
My mouth dropped. Amy is someone I totally have idolized since college when I saw here profile in PDN Top Knots as 1 of the top 15 studios in the world. And I had actually been on Matt's site a long time ago. Check out his site and you'll see there is not much he has not covered in his career. Come to find out, they were all friends with Paul.
I had my workshop book with me and I showed it to them and got back some of the greatest feedback from people who I can't even believe were looking at my work. Matt told me he was astounded that he had been in Vegas for a week and he was leaving in 4 hours and now, right at the end of WPPI he sees the best thing he'd seen all week. I was almost bursting out of my skin. I could not believe photographers of their caliber were not only looking at my work but obviously (I wish I could show you their faces) were impressed.
Paul ended up being one of the most sincere, down to earth people I have ever met. And he is extremely (can I stress extremely?) accomplished. We went to listen to him speak at the Canon booth on Tuesday. He had so much great advice that went far beyond photography.
Day 2 = even more awesome.
Tuesday we had planned to leave first thing in the morning but after winning the best business card drawing we decided to stay. We met up with Anna at 11:30 but were informed they had to speak at the Fuji booth at noon. I asked if she had a second so I could show her the workbook. She looked at it and marched me right over to Fuji to talk to their rep. Here is where it got crazy.
We talked for a minute or so, they flipped through the book and said "oh yes, I remember hearing about this and thinking this is something Fuji Film needs to be a part of. We would like to sponsor you and your workshop and provide you Fuji Film for you, your workshop, and for your attendees. We also would like to make a banner for it for the upcoming PhotoEast convention in NYC in Oct. Please send me an email and we will go from there".
I lost it. I literally lost it and just started crying. I could not believe it. I asked if I could give her a hug. She declined. I hugged her anyway.
By this time it is past noon (remember we were leaving at like 8am?).
I go back over to Finao to visit with Christine the owner to show her the workbook and thank her for providing the only book in my opinion that would compliment the inside material. I had tried to meet with her the last 2 days but she had contracted food poisoning and was rather sick. It was great to meet her and she'll be receiving a book of her own soon.
Day 3 = more awesome than my body could handle.
I had a couple of purposes in going to WPPI.
1. Finally meet Rebecca Crumley, say thanks and buy her a drink. CHECK
2. Take the workbook to Finao and thank them for the quality of the book. CHECK
3. Take the workbook to a film company and seek out the possible future relationship. CHECK.
This was my first trip to WPPI and will definitely not be the last. I did not mention all the wonderful other photographers I finally got to meet who I have know through forums etc for some time and to those who just know me from this blog. Much thanks to Paul Gero for taking the time to meet me and giving such great advice and more importantly, befriending us. And a big shot out to Michael and Anna Costa who introduced me over to Fuji. I am truly indebted to you.
I heart Fuji Film and Finao.