Published on March 20, 2013 | by Daniela0
A Wedding Photographer at the WPPI Expo
The Las Vegas trip of our friend Erica to the WPPI has started like a movie. Yet the arrival in plane was somewhat magical: a sea of lights in the middle of the desert, just like the description everyone gives of Las Vegas, a huge amusement park.
Her and her husband and travel companion Marco, have stepped into a completely different world for. A quick taxi ride (“you have to be fast in paying and calculating the tip that you want to leave“) and then the arrival at the hotel, where they witness a classic movie scene from ‘The Hangover’: a limousine drops off a bunch of wild girls, barefoot and already drunk at 7 pm, screaming like crazy. “The first of a long series of screams that we will hear in the following days! We still can’t tell whether Americans’ screams are liberating or motivational. But they scream a lot, sooo much.”
And then the hotel, just like in the movies, too, from ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ to ‘Ocean’s Eleven:’ after you’ve passed the reception desk, there are loads of slot machines, blackjack tables, loud music and noises of all kinds. People, of all nationalities, sitting at the tables are still allowed to smoke while sipping their drinks. Like any good tourist, our fellows ventured for a tour of Las Vegas hotels, to see the famous New York-New York Hotel, a group of skyscrapers with the reproduction of the Statue of Liberty and complete with a roller coaster, but also those with copies of other famous buildings from around the world such as the Eiffel Tower, an Egyptian pyramid and the fantasy village of Excalibur.
The actual adventure begins the morning after, at 7 am, with the arrival at the Fair: registration, withdrawal of the badge and courses registration, with all participants running back and forth throughout the hotel hosting the event and then long queuing to attend the several seminars.
Erica’s first remark: “I’ve never been a foreign language genius, but I’ve always been quite fluent with English: concentration is at the top, but they speak fast, loud and with a huge accent, I’m really struggling to understand what they say“. Her head is about to blast (it’s only been 10 minutes,) but luckily the speaker is very good and so Erica’s mind starts spinning with a thousand thoughts (it’s only been 30 minutes).
“Super-excited, I move to the second seminar. The topic is: management of prices and special offers, a very complex and delicate topic indeed, sometimes even taboo subjects in Italy“. Marco keeps on repeating things like “See, you do that!“, “The next time you’ll do it that way“, “We need to change that too“, “Listen, we should do as he says“. Caught in this tourbillion, poor Erica, she decides that at this point it’s better to record the speaker’s voice, store all the information possible, focus on the highlights and re-elaborate concepts back home. “You rush like a mad between a workshop and the other and try to retain as much as possible, all notions that you believe will take your work to a higher level. And in all this you make thousands of contacts with people, from the guy sitting next to you to the speaker himself.”
It’s not easy to keep up with everything, because this event is unique in the world, and lacks nothing. Everything is attractive and everyone is trying to grab Erica and her partner’s attention by showing them the unimaginable: hardware, software, clothing, photo albums of all kinds. The fact the we’re Italian becomes a catalyst for interest: “Awesome I love Italy!“, is a constant.
But Erica has a very specific purpose and strives to achieve it. The aim is to create “networking” and new “connections”. And what better occasion than participating in the events and dance parties organized at the Expo and by the various exhibitors? So they keep on running back and forth even in the evening, because they’re dreadfully curious.
It goes without saying that the wedding photography market in the States is strongly different from the Italian one. More exciting, more eclectic, more professional.
“The flagship product of the Expo are definitely photo albums, nothing to do with traditional Italian albums, but rather photobooks, that is, a photo album with images printed directly on the page.” Very few exhibitors, maybe two, still display only traditional albums at the fair. Furthermore, there’s no shortage of suppliers of camera equipment, memory cards, printers, bags & cases, studio lights, as well as companies that provide post-production, administrative and commercial management services, and so on and so forth. Some offer alternative solutions, others propose reinterpretations of classic items, or innovative solutions such as Square (by the co-founder of Twitter): “This tool can turn our mobile devices (iphone, ipad) into actual credit card readers.”
As a freelancer, a wedding photographer is a “one man show” for most of the situations that he/she runs into; as a result, especially in the United States, professionals can find a large quantity of solutions that help them facilitate the business process in every respect and support it with a wide range of management, administrative, and marketing management tools, as well as business opportunities, etc.
“In my opinion the coolest exhibitor was definitely Richard Photo Lab. It’s a film lab for film developing and printing based in Los Angeles. Now on the market for more than twenty years, has reached its current success thanks to the development of medium format films.” Medium format and analog is a duo that has come back in fashion in recent years, and it seems to have reached the pinnacle of success right now. “It’s definitely not a very popular product, perhaps pretty sophisticated, being more expensive than digital photography, but it’s certainly a mass-consumption product, and also of high quality.”
Even the choice of ‘binding up’ with a prestigious photographer from Los Angeles, Jose Villa, shouldn’t be underestimated, said Erica. “Not only Richard Photo Lab has managed to become a reference in this market at an international level, but has also made a name for itself as a company photographers can rely on for image and management consulting as a support for their own business.” It goes without saying that Jose Villa in person was there at the Expo, to keep high the name of the company with a series of very informal meetings and interviews throughout the entire duration of the event: “I’ve been honored to attend an interview with the author, as I’m a great fan of his, and I’ve also had the good fortune to win a mini lottery drawing. ”
After so many emotions, business opportunities, contacts, and speeches, Erica and Marco enjoy a last tour of all the stands, in order to make their mind up and identify priorities for their next investment plan.
At that point it’s time to leave Las Vegas, the WPPI, the hotel, the slot machines, the crazy girls in the limousine, the city lights, the parties and the people that they have met. On their way back, their luggage is heavier: it’s full of contacts and information. What they say as they leave one of the most extreme cities in the world, gives a clear hint about their future plans: “Keep a spare room for us. See you in 2014. Count on it.“