WPPI Las Vegas 2009

How could I NOT use the most cliched song for this? ;)

I figured it would be a good idea to blog about WPPI 2009 in Las Vegas before I run off to Photoshop World in Boston next week!

This is a longer entry, so there are more after the cut!

We stayed right at the convention hotel, the MGM Grand. I loved this hotel! We got a great deal by buying a package, so it ended up being one of the cheapest resort hotels I’ve ever stayed in, and also the nicest. For once, I wasn’t afraid to touch the comforter on the bed, nor did I feel compelled to sleep in socks! Everything was very clean and modern… thumbs up!

You may wonder how the green outside glow of the MGM Grand translates to the rooms… well, it’s very ominous! We arrived at night, and walked into a glowing green room. Thankfully they include light blocking curtains, or I’d never be able to sleep through that light!

Every time I go to Vegas I make sure to make a trip to FAO Schwartz at Caesar’s Palace and have fun with the critters. They have so many toys larger than me there!

This is a shot from Robert Lino’s Platform Class, one of the first of the convention (Sunday). He talked about posing, and it was really entertaining. “Move her this way, and then the Jennifer Lopez comes out.”

That night the Welcome Reception was a wedding, and they surprised us with it being an actual vow renewal of fantastic photographer Jim Garner and his wife, shot by five other of the big name photographers. I was most impressed by Joe Buissink’s super ability to switch between two cameras as though they were extensions of his body.

If you’ve seen any of Jim’s videos he shoots for his studio, you know he has a great sense of humor, so the “wedding” started out pretty silly. Then he went and got all serious, and his wife cried and we all did a little too because it was just so sweet. But to fix things, he dragged her to the floor for their kiss :)

Knowing my Vegas nights were limited, I cut out from the actual wedding reception to go take photos on the strip.

The walk from the hotel to the convention each day was a LONG one. WPPI, realizing this, tried to ease our pain with humorous signs along the way. The first time I had no idea how long of a walk it would be until the signs started hinting at it, and they weren’t kidding! Each of these signs were quite far apart. I think it takes about 10 minutes to walk from the entrance to the convention center to the actual convention center! Then you still need to go up to the third floor for the platform speakers once you get there! Luckily they were never broken… except for a few days, but only the down side :)

The tradeshow was hard on the back between walking so much and packing my camera, but a clever company had set up a booth selling electric massage therapy thingies; I don’t remember what they are, but they send electric currents through you to relax your muscles. I can’t say I enjoyed the sensation – it causes you to uncontrollably twitch and spasm! – but it did help my sore shoulder!

This man was at the booth all day, totally in love with the device. I couldn’t stand mine on power 2 because my muscles were twitching so bad, and he had his at 10! He was putting the electrodes all over his body, and all the new comers to the booth were scared by his twitching, but he loved it! He was super friendly, but I didn’t get a card so I forget his name… so if you know this photographer from New Mexico, let me know!

Doug Gordon was one of my favorite platform speakers… he was hilarious and full of great ideas. He’s been a huge inspiration in my photography so far, and he has a lot of unconventional ways of doing things compared to everything else that was drilled into my head for the rest of the convention. It’s a great example that you need to do what works for you.

Here he is demonstrating the “get sexy” posing with his assistant :)

People get crazy when there are free gifts!

As a special treat to WPPI attendees, we got a private concert from Blues Traveler at the MGM Garden Arena! It was great to have such an intimate show because I could comfortably get quite close to the front, though didn’t have a telephoto with me, darn :S

Everyone was watching the bassist solo, but I was more intrigued by the guitarist smoking. Even John Popper, their singer, would take breaks to smoke on stage. Only in Vegas!

Our hotel was right next to the airport, so we saw a plane taking off or arriving every minute from our hotel window. I’m so used to going to Los Angeles where the airport is an hour away from ANYTHING, so this is such a strange concept to me!

Doug Gordon again at the Bay Photo booth.

I was able to see Gene Higa also speak at the Bay Photo booth, and it was cool that he talked for much longer than his scheduled 20 minute time because I had decided (wrongly, in the end) against going to his Platform class. Maybe next year!

Oh, I look like a giant next to everyone from California! Us Canadians grow taller trying to reach the sun?

Jerry Ghionis was my other favorite platform speaker, and he gave such an inspirational talk full of ideas on posing, lighting, and directing. He used volunteers from the audience, and flirted with everyone, true to his style. At this talk I was also fortunate enough to meet a photographer from Calgary (what a small world!), Stephanie Moore.

The Venetian, and abusing my wide angle.

I met a few celebrities along the way…

My Mom: You look real!
Michael Jackson: So do you!

…and let’s not forget Spongebob!

I got to meet a few photographers whose blogs I closely follow, so that was super fun! I love how close WPPI puts you to the “big names”. Here’s Becker at Jessica Claire’s class.

The closing speech was by Joe Photo, another photographer who I really admire, that dealt with how to make the most of everything you’ve learnt. Finally, I was able to get a front row seat at a class! It was a really inspiring talk, and he is such a nice guy. This is one of the classes I took the most home from.

As an exercise he had some friends give eulogies at his “funeral” – and it ended up getting pretty emotional!

Now that WPPI was done, I still had an extra day to play around in Vegas.

I wish there was more of this old style Vegas goodness on the strip!

The Bellagio fountains

I love how everything is themed!

The Fremont Street Experience was really cool to go to, and had more of the retro Vegas feel to it. I felt a lot less safe there as it bordered a bad area of town, but it was busy enough that things were okay.

Wanna know more about this guy? Check out safe-sax.com. I can’t make this stuff up! I can’t begin to describe how intense he was in his playing, but I felt like I was in an 80s movie! :)

That was so fun… I already want to go back!

Comment via Facebook


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

One Response to “WPPI Las Vegas 2009”

  1. From Mom says:

    So do I!!!!