Its been just over a week since I returned from four days in Vegas to attend the WPPI conference, the largest wedding and portrait conference in the world. Approximately 15,000+ photographers were there to learn, shoot, and network. My days were so packed from the minute I landed until the moment I found myself walking back through airport security, that I am still digesting it all. And I am glad my trip was packed with barely any breathing room, not only for making it well worth my time and expense, but also because it was the longest time I’ve ever spent away from my boys. In four days, I attended numerous workshops, two shootouts, perused the mammoth expo in search of new client products, and networked over coffee and martinis. I am proud to say that even the late night networking events did not impede me from attending 8am workshops, albeit I strolled in with two coffee cups – no judgements please. I like my coffee. 🙂
All the following images were taken with my iPhone.
Although I took away something from every workshop, including topics from album design to business strategies to photography tips, my favorite workshop was given by Justin and Mary Marantz, a photography couple I highly admire for their work and ‘give back’ attitude. They are pioneers in this industry, some would say celebrities, yet they come across humble and authentic. I walked in thinking I was going to hear about “the bottom line” for my business, but what Mary delivered in her presentation left not a single dry eye in the house.
You see, Mary is a fabulous story teller, a wonderful gift. She shared about her upbringing and the struggles her family made to get her a coveted education, how she met Justin and the beginnings of their photography business, how they enviously eyed the ‘popular’ table at WPPI years ago, how they set goals and worked diligently to get to where they felt defined success. But when they hit that sweet spot, they wanted more like anyone else would. Mary frankly stated through her experience, “the problem with more…is that it is never enough.” With time Mary realized the race she and Justin were in and changed her direction, which led her to the important message about making a living versus making a life.
This touched my soul – intimately.
Mary intertwined numerous people and tools in creating her powerful message, including Hannah Brencher, the founder of The World Needs More Love Letters, which she started in 2010 by writing love letters to random strangers on the NYC 4 train. Today it has grown world wide, and became so addictive that even the Wall Street Journal caught wind of it. To conclude the workshop, Mary passed out a single dollar bill to the hundreds of audience members. She challenged us to go out to do something with it by the end of the week. Not to wait until we made six figure incomes to try to make a difference, but instead to start NOW.
This topic has weighed heavily on me. This past week TWO occurrences happened where I was able to help others through my photography and cooking. The stories are too soon to share as they are very personal and difficult.
And although Mary and Justin’s workshop spoke to me the most, I learned and met from some of the top in the industry. LOVED Ben and Erin Chrisman’s talk. So incredibly talented! As well as Cliff Mautner, Jasmine Star, Tamara Lackey, Catherine Hall, Elizabeth Messina (!!!), Kevin & Katie Hulett, Lindsay Adler, Kirsten Lewis, Scott Robert Lim, Melissa Jill…. I was in heaven seeing all these people. I even saw Jose Villa in the hallway but I was too celebrity shocked to chat with him. Next time!
As the taxi zoomed to the airport, I jotted down five things I discovered about myself:
- I can get by on little sleep on a regular basis …. thanks to my three year old’s rigorous training in this department.
- I have more energy than many people in their 20’s.
- I love meeting new people – a lot.
- When excited about what I am engaged in, I forget to eat.
- One martini is bliss, two is dangerous.