Shoot and Thrive team at WPPI 2024

WPPI Photography Expo and Trade Show – Recap

I wanted to put together a post talking about some highlights from our recent trip to Las Vegas for WPPI photography expo and trade show 2024 at The Mirage hotel with the goal of giving you some honest insights and maybe (just maybe) inspiring a future trip of your own in the coming years!

My relationship with networking, meet ups and conferences has changed a lot over the years.

I’ve mostly just done things on a local, more intimate level, connecting with other photographers in close proximity to me and generally not being a super sociable guy. Over the past year or two I’ve really been stepping out of my comfort zone and WPPI is a good example of that.

If you know me at all, you know I like structure and a plan…and for the first time in my life I decided to travel without much of a plan in place.

Even when I arrived in Las Vegas, I had limited goals beyond just wanting to connect with others and see where things would take me.

I had the good fortune of getting to travel out to Las Vegas with a friend in the industry, Jenna, who fortunately is at least a decent conversationalist (lol), which is great since I’ve become more chatty in my old age. (This is a little sarcasm in case you don’t know me very well).

“Airport Chris” kicked in on arrival to Newark, where all my anxieties and stress melted into a pool of acceptance that nothing is in my control (and god willing it’s not the pilots day to die).

Getting to Vegas ended up being a bit of a whirlwind, as flights were being rerouted to other “nearby” airports due to high winds…and we got to experience the fun of turbulence, an attempted landing, and a sudden reroute to Phoenix…When we landed, we decided to rent a car and drive 5 hours…changing our initial plans from “landing and grabbing a drink” to “landing and driving a ton”

Okay, my life story aside…finally we get into town and here are some highlights in my book from the couple of days I spent there:

WPPI Expo 2024 – Highlights

I had a lot of great experiences during my trip to WPPI Las Vegas. I’ll be sharing them below (in no particular order, in case it matters!):

  • Reconnecting with a bunch of folks from the NJ/PA Speakeasy group. This is a local networking group that I’d consider to be “one of the best” in the photography industry and I’m thankful to be a part of it. It’s cool to have this little “built in” network when going to something like this since having people I already know and can connect with a safe “home base” throughout the trip!
  • Meeting some photographers I have looked up to from early on including Esteban Gil, Sam Hurd and others.
  • The party hosted by Fundy (an album design software company) which brought with it some fun stories and opportunities to connect with others. (Ask me about my conversation starters, I dare you).
  • Getting to connect with some big and small companies serving photographers including Pic-Time, Aftershoot, Imagen AI, Tave, and many, many others!
  • The actual expo in particular was very exciting. I especially loved the opportunities to see speakers at some of the booths (such as Annemie Tonken at the Pic-Time booth, who was a completely rad person to talk with)
  • Facetiming back home with my lad. I have to mention this since it’s quite the experience to step out of the hotel in the warm Vegas air and have a chat in the middle of my day, making little memories from thousands of miles away!
  • Watching fellow Shoot and Thrive partner Marshall be in his element around people and in particuar seeing the committment to his daily business tip reels over on IG even with the crazy travel schedule (
  • Talking with Nate Desch in particular about – the rad platform for hiring (and getting hired) for photography gigs!
  • Getting to perform my comedy routine of “just existing” for other people. I don’t know if it’s the things I say that make people laugh or just my face, but I’ll take it and nothing motivates me more.
  • Drunkenly walking the hallowed halls of The Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas (#justbeinghonest). Everyone’s going to downplay it but this is one of the reasons to go to WPPI and it’s probably why the evenings mostly evolved into dance parties and hanging out at the bar.

WPPI Events – Things to Know

What’s interesting for me is, at the end of the day, many of the things hosted by WPPI itself were pretty uninspiring.

I sort of expected this, and maybe it’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, but here’s why:

If you’re really wanting to hone your photography skills or expand your portfolio (particularly if you’re into staged portraits), this would be a perfect opportunity to do so with a high volume of photo walks and set ups…but neither of these things were important for me.

Most of my photography work is focused on documentary weddings and elopements, and those things are not major areas of focus at this conference (and definitely not from a shooting perspective). I can’t speak to how this will look in future years, but I’d love to see more emphasis on this since it’s such a major aspect of the photography industry.

Most of the educational seminars (at least on paper) came across as very surface level and designed for a beginner audience, which is fine, but I would have been more inspired by more depth of information.

The few that I did go to I found interesting to see how the information was presented and some different perspectives, though, so no regrets there! In particular, I liked Myrna Daramy’s blogging talk and could tell many who attended were getting a lot of value out of it (and I know from experience that effective blogging can get massive results for your business).

I will say…if I went to WPPI in years 1-3 of being a professional photographer (instead of basically year 10 lol), I “may” have found all of these talks to be way more impactful. It would be interesting to see more intermediate/advanced topics being discussed in the future for sure, though, and I feel confident a lot of other attendees feel the same (since I talked with quite a few of them who expressed the same).

The WPPI Transformation

Prior to going to WPPI, I read a lot of accounts of photographers saying this was a “transformative” experience for them in the past…and I can get where that point of view is coming from.

I can write out bullet point lists of things I found to be memorable (and I love my lists), but there’s this intangible quality that comes from being in an environment surrounded by thousands of others in the industry that really can’t be described.

If I was to sum up my experience, it would be that it did everything I expected (and more).

It’s a big leap to step out of that comfort zone and to throw caution to the wind and just allow things to unfold and take you where fate wants you to end up.

I’d highly recommend it to anyone considering going next year, I’m pretty sure this is going to end up being a yearly thing for me.

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