Jeffrey Kuo Photography » San Francisco Bay Area Wedding and Portrait Photographer

Top 10 Things I Learned at WPPI: Part 1

I’m back from WPPI! This was my third straight year going and I generally returned too drained to recap the experience so I’m making it a point this year to talk about some takeaways from the experience.

10. Stay hydrated

The first thing that always happens to me at WPPI is that my lips get chapped and I feel drained almost immediately from all the dry, circulated air and cigarette smoke in the hotel. Knowing that I’m not going to be leaving the hotel for 3-5 straight days, I make sure to pack some chapstick and try to stay hydrated. Bring a water bottle or stock up on a pack of water!

9. Bring a portable phone charger

While it seems to get better every year, the reception (mostly with AT&T) isn’t the best at the conference areas and the outdoor tradeshow area has no reception at all (with most carriers if I’m not mistaken). The problem is your phone starts to wonder where all those delicious cell phone signal went and boosts the antenna power to find it, which is absolutely brutal on battery life. Switch your phone to “Airplane mode” to conserve battery or bring a portable battery pack to charge your phone so you don’t miss that text later in the day to go grab dinner or hang out with friends. I got the Sony CP-A2LS (4000 mah) portable battery on sale but do some research and get what works best for yourself.

8. Narrow your scope for a productive tradeshow but keep your mind open

The trade show has tons of amazing products and services on display and there’s no way you’re going to have time for it all. Customer service is very important to me and having had some issues recently with a sample I made with an album company, I spent a lot of time talking to lots of other album companies about how they deal with customer service issues. Each year, pick a few top-priority categories that your business needs to improve on and tackle them, while still talking with other vendors briefly to see what you may want to focus on for next year’s WPPI trade show. Here’s a photo of the awesome mosaic frame by Moo!

7. Bring your camera

This sounds like an obvious thing for photographers to do but I use my camera not just to take photos with friends but to remember which unique products I thought were worth a second look at the trade show. It also helps to take photos of speaker presentations since sometimes they go through slides much more quickly than you can take notes. Here’s a great slide from one of the presentations I attended.

6. Do your research on speakers

All of the speakers at WPPI are there for a reason: they’re all accomplished photographers and business owners. They all want your attention but you can only attend one speaker’s class per time slot (or two if you split your time). Every speaker’s class tagline and description is meant to be catchy to lure you in, but I’ve found that some taglines are deceiving (no bad intentions I’m sure). I was drawn to a speaker’s class that said something along the lines of “How to maximize your business for the upcoming year” until I googled him and found out he’s a high school senior and portrait photographer, not a wedding photographer.

Stay tuned for Part 2!


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