photography by merrilee » san diego area weddings and portraits

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My week at WPPI

As some of you might know, this last week was like spring break for the wedding/portrait photography world. Okay, maybe not spring break, but a crazy whirlwind week of amazing speakers, parties, workshops, cocktails, more photo gear than you could ever imagine, and some awesome new friends. Brad and I converged with about 14,000 other photographers from all over the world right smack in the middle of the Las Vegas strip for the WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International) convention. Honestly, I was blown away! I knew that I would come back excited with lots of fresh ideas, but I had no idea how inspired I would be. I feel so incredibly blessed to have listened to some of the most incredible photographers share their wisdom and insight.

I really wanted to share some of this wisdom and insight that I picked up so I’m doing a little writeup to document what I learned from some of the sessions. It’s long so don’t feel obligated to read it all. I just felt obligated to write it all 😉

Here it goes….

The first day at the conference, I heard Audrey Woulard speak. Audrey is a rockin’ children’s photographer in Chicago. She is all about natural light and had some awesome tips for capturing kids in their element. Her big emphasis is wide apertures and high ISOs and she ALWAYS shoots where the light is best even if the location is less than desirable.

The next day, I heard Jesh De Rox speak and he blew my mind! The things that he said touched me so deeply that it will forever change the way I take pictures. I know he also touched the hundreds of others who heard him speak as evidenced by an incredibly tearful audience that stayed a half an hour over to give him a standing ovation. His work is fully focused on the depth of the human heart and capturing the beauty in every human being. When describing his clients, he said, “In my life, I will never create anything as beautiful as they already are.” These words will forever be with me when I’m shooting.

Another photographer that I heard speak who I fell in love with was Jasmine Star. I had read about her previously and read her blog, but hearing her in person was just awesome! She was so humble and so willing to share what she’d learned. Her biggest advice was to keep it real and allow people to connect with you as a person and not just as a photographer. She also really emphasized giving back because you can and not expecting anything in return.

Many photographers have read Dane Sanders’ “Fast Track Photographer” and have heard him speak before. Brad and I were really inspired by his ability to break everything down into what is most important. He said that “the intersection of who you are and what you do is what matters.” On a practical level, he is very much about outsourcing the pieces of your business that don’t require your personal touch so that you can focus on your clients and give them what matters most – YOU!

The last session we went to was Amber Holritz’s talk on lifestyle baby photography. Amber is a genius at capturing the seemingly mundane and everyday things that happen in a family’s life and making them absolutely stunning. She defines lifestyle photography as “the production of artistically fulfilling images depicting a typical way of life.” She never stops shooting once she arrives at a family’s home and this has resulted in some incredible images. She feels that if she can make a client feel beautiful about themselves and their life, then she has done her job as a photographer. Amber really made me realize how important it is to create an image that is sincere and emotional as much as it is artistic.

So I spent some time thinking about all these morsels of goodness and how I could make them my own. I am very proud to say that I feel like I now have a clear vision for my business: I want to bless others with authentic and artistic imagery that reveals the beauty and truth in their lives and relationships.

There is so much more that I got out of my time at WPPI, but this post is already really long and guess what….Paxton is awake again. I’ll leave you with an image from the shooting workshop I attended. More to come later 🙂