I went to Vegas

Travelling to Las Vegas has never held much of an appeal for me.  In fact, I joke that Vegas is the only place that my wanderlust would refuse to visit. This week, though? I went to Vegas.

Las Vegas really is a cheap destination. My round-trip, non-stop ticket from Bellingham, WA to Las Vegas, NV was $120 and my perfectly adequate lodging on the strip was $35/night (plus $22 in tax, but let’s ignore that unfortunate reality :-P).  My decision to stay at the Excaliber was the right one (I was in town for a conference) but next time I decide to head to Vegas, I will rent a three-bedroom home through Airbnb for about the same price.  (Psst. That link is an affiliate link. We both benefit if you book Airbnb via my link!)

The view was my hotel made me long for the mountains and desert. It was out there, just waiting to be explored!

Eight years ago this week, I blogged my goal to make it to WPPI the following year.  In the ebb and flow of life, the time to step away was scarce and hasn’t yet happened.  This year, though? I did it. I attended the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International Conference.

As counterintuitive as it may sound, I intentionally chose to attend the photography conference without a camera. Yes, that’s right.  I surrounded myself with photographers and flashy lights and fancy classes and left my camera at home.  Why?  I didn’t want to be distracted by the art of taking photos and I definitely didn’t want to just be a shutterbug at the conference.  For this year, at least, my goal was business inspiration and marketing education. Each time I was tempted to go learn a new lighting technique, I remembered my cameraless life and went to the business/marketing class. Each time I wanted to pick up a camera to remember an experience or adventure, I grabbed my cellphone for a quick snap and then wrote down the tidbit I wanted to take home with me.

Surrounding myself with inspired, educated, successful photographers? Brilliant decision. 2018 will be my first successful year as an exclusively self-employed wedding photographer (I quit my day job and am no longer waking at 4:30am to edit photos and answer client emails!) so launching the year with a week of my people was a remarkably brilliant move on my part.

Meeting fellow photographers and talking shop over buffet dinners or overpriced food court lunch? Priceless. I met photographers from California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Texas, Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Australia, Japan, and a few places in between. I sat under the tutelage of some of the most successful photographers in the industry and walked away inspired by their hard work and brilliant photography.

I won’t go so far as to say that this conference changed my life, but I do know I will look back at this week as one of the more formative experiences in my photography career.

(Totally fan-girled over the Nikon booth and my fancy schmancy Nikon lanyard from Nikon Professional Services and then felt like a traitor every time I sat down at the Canon stage.)

Jogging the Strip at sunrise was, hands down, the best experience. I would say that everyone should take this road less travelled…except then I wouldn’t get it all to myself. 

Cell phone photos, all of these. Processed with VSCO.

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