As a professional photographer, my commitment to continuing education is vital. The industry is always changing and if photographers never continue to advance themselves, they will be left behind. I pride myself on keeping up with the latest trends, technology, and styles. Although I do a lot of my own research, nothing can replace learning from some of the top professionals in the country.
WPPI: Wedding and Portrait Photographers International
Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) is a leading wedding photography association. I joined a few years ago and, in March of 2016, I had the privilege of attending the conference in Las Vegas, NV. I honestly didn’t know what to expect or what I would learn, but I decided to embark on the journey with a colleague and continue to develop my education. The conference is free to all WPPI members who have paid their annual dues, and there is an expo along with the platform classes you can take. It was by far the best experience ever, and I would highly recommend it to anyone!
What I Learned at WPPI Changed My Perspective
There were many highlights from the conference, which have changed how I think. There were so many speakers who offered such great advice, that I can’t possibly scratch the surface of it all in one post. Overall, the WPPI conference and the things I learned have changed the way I think about my business strategies going forward.
Another highlight was networking and finding new companies to do business with. I networked with a few companies which actually brought me onboard their teams as an ambassador! MTI Photography is now an ambassador for Pond5, Samyang, and Rokinon lenses. No matter how busy you are, I truly believe in the importance of mentorship, partnership, diversity, and not just keeping to yourself. If you don’t branch out, expand your horizons, and share what you know, your business will stagnate.
I was also able to test out new equipment and get discount coupons for tools that I’ve been interested in, which is always awesome. I love adding to my arsenal of photography gadgets and having a wide range of choices in order to be able to truly offer the best for my clients.
The Experience that Topped It All Off: 17hats
The most important part of the trip was during the expo where I met Ryan Groves, Director of Communication & Education at 17hats. That was the start of an amazing networking relationship, which has allowed me to connect with other fine individuals at 17hats. Sura Hart, Adam Wood (Content Manager), and Mackenzie Meany (Director of Sales) from 17hats are some people that have been wonderful to communicate with.
Everyone at 17hats has so much passion for what they do, and they are changing the dynamic of how professionals handle their client contacts, invoices, contracts, and so much more. 17hats is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and businesses get organized and find more time to focus on business by streamlining the things that can usually amount to administrative chaos. Feeling like I sometimes wear “17 hats” myself, a feeling that’s probably all too familiar to most business owners, I’ve been using 17hats since its early stages and I recommend it to almost everyone I talk to. Getting to interface with 17hats directly has been inspiring and educational, and without this trip to WPPI and bumping into Ryan, I would have missed out on a great opportunity to share my passion and story with them. As a matter of fact, I believe so strongly in the 17hats culture and business solutions they offer that I have even featured them in my new book called Photography: Basics, Business, and Best Practices.
Take Your Business to the Next Level
WPPI was an amazing experience for me as a professional to reconnect and rejuvenate my mind. It gave me fresh perspectives on my business and myself as an entrepreneur. It’s a week-long conference, jam-packed with so many networking events, classes and tech, that it can be overwhelming. But I recommend that all professionals take a break from their work when possible and make the time to invest in yourself. The people I met and the things I learned are invaluable. It’s going to take my business to the next level and it’s worth every penny. Don’t make excuses to prevent yourself from becoming a member of beneficial organizations or going to educational conferences. It really is as necessary as it is priceless. If you own a business, and it’s your full time job, take the leap — it’ll pay for itself and you can work while you’re there. Placing value on knowledge and experience is what will continue to make me a better photographer for my clients in the future, and it’s what will make you the best you can be in whatever you do.
Join the Conversation or Get in Touch
I’d love to hear from you: if you’re in the photography field, what are some of your favorite memories of educational experiences? What have you learned that has made you step outside your comfort zone and implement positive changes to help your business grow? Let’s connect and share ideas. You can contact me through my website or find MTI Photography on social media. If you’d like to know more about 17hats and what they can do for you, please contact me and I’ll be happy to refer or connect you. And if you’d like to pre-order a signed first edition copy of my photography book, please visit the MTI store.