Review of WPPI U in Fairfield, NJ

June 27, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

What an awesome two days!

The drive from Philly to Fairfield wasn’t easy, since the heavy rain made the commute slow and treacherous. But if that pilgrimage was payment, then this conference was the reward. Sal Cincotta was an awesome host who delivered helpful and timely information in his presentation. I was impressed with just about everything I saw there, though I overheard someone say it was, “small and for beginners,” I did not agree. I felt it was well-rounded, well-organized, and energizing. It only stirs my excitement for the time when I eventually attend the big one in March. I’m shooting for 2014!

I’m glad Doug Gordon started the seminar and the morning off, because his high energy style was the perfect recipe for a 9:00 am start behind a 2-hour commute. I found his lesson on flow posing to be quite helpful and very adaptable. His insights on posing different body types were invaluable and his hands-on approach to posing produced great results. See more on his workshops page here.

Susan Stripling is a pretty creative woman. Shooting wedding details through a rocks glass is no easy feat, but she finds an interesting point of view almost every time and shared some amazingly creative work. Her talk was about composition but what resonated most with me was her insight, “Let the emotions and the moment be your image.”

I was really looking forward to the next two speakers WPPI lined up, Anthony Vazquez and Lindsay Adler. Anthony’s talk was entitled, “Pushing the limits,” and Lindsay’s keynote was about “Conquering Evil Light.” Mr. Vazquez shared about 10 bullet points that definitely hit the mark, specifically about goal setting and personal expectations. I agreed with his “Be like Mike” philosophy, referring to, (unarguably) the greatest basketball player in the history of the world, Michael Jordan’s unfathomable work ethic and determination.

I couldn’t miss a second of Lindsay’s talk because I was so interested to see what advice she had for really challenging lighting conditions. Most of her technical insights lent themselves to portraiture in opposition to wedding photography – it’s just too cumbersome to store sheets of white and black foam core in your wedding bag, but it works great for location portraits with an assistant. Still, her advice was helpful and reiterated some basics which I easily overlook sometimes – like paying attention to natural reflectors and tilting your subject’s head skyward to remove “raccoon eyes.” Good stuff.

No one seemed to have quick tips to move you forward in the industry quite like Jared Platt. His talk on Lightroom workflow began the second day of events and was easily my favorite, because I walked away with practical knowledge that I could use that night. And did. I don’t think I’ll be editing a wedding in 6 hours like him just yet, but certainly cutting 8 weeks in half sounds very reasonable when thinking of turn around time to brides. His talk about was life-saving. Seriously.

Although I haven’t personally shot much boudoir, Christa Meola gave some great advice for starting and growing that business, while touching on topics that all types of photographers would benefit from hearing. Her ideas about finding and defining your brand start with identifying three brands you admire and why. I appreciated this approach and tips for getting more out of your shoot. It starts with the proper pre-planning and creating an experience for your client. I think no matter who you’re shooting for, that should be the goal.

Sal Cincotta was the host of the two day series so by the time he came to the mic to give his talk, the audience was very familiar with him. This was good and bad because for as well received as he was, the crowd took more liberties with interrupting his presentation. I’ll make the argument only after admitting he did welcome questions at any time, but certain audience members just yelling out seemed to detract a bit from his message. I blame this mostly on the topic he was covering and the familiarity the crowd had with him. He covered Facebook, its Timeline, and how we can maximize our time on the ‘Line. Most helpful if you try to adapt what you’re doing, instead of reinventing the wheel.

Blair Phillips energy was positive and his message resonated further down than my camera body. It hit me deep. Everyone did a good job of not talking about his/ herself too much, but Blair did give an extended background on himself without seeming narcissistic. Because he wasn’t bragging about his accolades, rather reflecting on his journey, philosophy, and methodology, I really connected with his approach. From a personal standpoint, I felt inspired by his life story. From a business perspective, I felt recharged to know how passionate he was and how much that paid off for his business. He’s truly a photographic alchemist – turning shit into gold – don’t believe me? Look at his d-i-y- backdrops.

JP Elairo finished the day, and those attendees who stayed until the end were certainly rewarded. His straight forward style was extremely helpful and his message adaptable. Of what he shared of his marketing workflow, I found his methodology helpful and enlightening. Embedding copyright information into the file in camera or upon export maintains that you’re photos will show your ownership even if on Facebook with no watermark. I like that. His ideas on workflow and blogging were timely are being put to good use right now :-)

QUICK notes about the vendors. H&H Color Lab had some great stuff, but almost too much stuff. Bay Photo really impressed me, but so did Elegant Albums. They had a killer show special for studio albums, and that was right up my alley. Nik Software and onOne Software were present and I ended up purchasing from the latter, their Perfect Photo Suite 6 because of Perfect Portrait and Perfect Mask. I’m even more excited about the other five programs that are included they didn’t demo. Simply Color Lab sponsorship opened my eyes to their studio management software, and with appealing offerings, it might be in our near future here. It was also nice to see ASMP and the NJ chapter of the PPA present.

I give the conference an A. Personally, I’d say about half of what the speakers told me was new and half I was already aware of or already implementing. This gave me a small sense of pride but a greater sense of desire and drive to improve. I hope to implement all of those positive changes here, at Philly Photo Studio, but will certainly adapt them to all facets of my business. I feel blessed to have attended the seminar and only hope to keep the momentum and energy high as we come through a busy summer season. I think the single greatest piece of advice I left with was an overall feeling of “this is going to work out.” Seeing so many other photographers wasn’t intimidating as it was inspiring. Thank you WPPI for your great work and devotion to the field of photography.

Thanks for following!

[This text can also be found published on the where I work as the Studio Manager. I attended the conference primarily on behalf of this position and for my own corporation, but the review is the same. This note is to limit any copyright fuss. I'm not stealing, just sharing.]


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