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The start of WPPI 2010 Vegas!

What a whirlwind the past week has been! I haven’t really been able to blog as often as I would have liked to. I still have so many things to write from my coastal trip from San Fran to LA! Unfortunately that will have to wait.

This past one week, I was in Las Vegas, attending the largest wedding & portrait photography conference in the world – WPPI 2010! This year, 14,000 people came from all over the world to hear from the world’s best –  photographers like Marcus Bell, Jerry Ghionis, Yervant, Jasmine Star, Kevin Kubota, Dane Sanders, amongst many others.

I was thrilled that I could make the trip this year, together with fellow photographers influential in the Malaysian industry –  Louis Pang, Zung, Patrick Low & Jenny Sun. I’ve made so many new friends this week and have been so inspired by the lives of the people that I’ve encountered.

In a nutshell, he’s an overview of what happened the past one week.

The first 2 days of the conference was really awesome because I attended Cliff Mautner’s Plus class. This is an intimate class of 25 people only. Cliff not only taught us his signature style of getting beautiful back rim lighting like these shots…

…but he also shared with us his life, experiences, and his thoughts on the business of wedding photography. I’ll share more in another post. [updated: read the post here]

While I was in Cliff Mautner’s class, Alex was attending Ken Sklute’s Plus class, where he learnt a lot about lighting. The Plus classes are worth it. If any photographer out there is thinking of attending WPPI, this is something not to miss.

After the 2 days of Plus classes, we had events like Master classes going on. Master classes are only 2 hours long, but the class size is up to 50 people. Unlike the main Platform classes, some of which seat up to 1000 people, you can understand why people pay more just to have a more personal time with the trainer.

I attended only one Master class (you have the option to attend up to 3, with a fee of course!). I chose Dave and Quin Cheong’s class, or better known as DQ. Some photographers might be familiar with DQ QuiKeys, a hardware workflow solution for post processing your images. Dave and Quin are the photographers who developed this product.

Doesn’t Quin look hot? And the best thing is, she’s from Malaysia! But living in Canada now.

They too shared their perspective on business. One of the things that they said which makes so much sense is their idea on albums. They believe that photographers should always shoot for albums.

“If a story is worth sharing…” they said, “…present it properly. Whose children will pop a DVD and sort through a thousand images years from now?”

The main thing about selling to your clients is ensuring that you gain their confidence and trust. Getting your potential clients to trust that you will understand their needs and cater to it. You are making photographs for your clients, after all, not just to satisfy ‘your personal artistic vision’.

While Master classes are ongoing in various rooms, the print competition judging is held over 2 days. This is a really informative session for me. In various rooms, judges are presented prints from the latest 16 x 20 print competition. These prints come from all over the world, including Malaysia and Russia! As they comment on what they think makes or break that particular image, I learnt a lot about how to view a print critically.

A few things I noted:

1. The best photo size for the 16 x 20 print competition is not more than 12 x 15 inches. Leave the rest for the matte board.

2. Matte photos look better under the hot spotlight.

3. Photos that are post processed in moody, darker tones seem to interest the judges more than bright coloured images.

4. Your eyes are drawn to the brightest part of the image first, then the darker areas. This is a post processing rule as well – so make sure that when you post process your images, you dodge and burn until the audience sees ‘your vision’.

5. It’s not just technical things that the judges are looking out for. They pay attention to the bride and groom’s body language in the photo. Does the pose look believable? What do the expressions on their faces convey?

On the 7th of March, the WPPI 2010 conference was officially launched. It was also my birthday. What a celebration it has been, to be inspired by so many people through WPPI! Prior to WPPI, I also joined a competition, and I won a photography session with Dawn McCarthy, a renowned photographer in Jacksonville, Florida. We did the photo shoot on my birthday, so that was special! Looking forward to seeing the images.

I can’t possibly summarize what I experienced in WPPI 2010 through one blog post. So, part 2 coming up soon! [updated: view part 2 here]

View the Trash the Dress Vegas photos here.

On the road towards Santa Cruz

A few days ago, we started our first day down the coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Together with Jenny & Ju, we rented a car for our coastal road trip. The rental of the car costs about RM1,500 for about 5 days. Each driver you register incurs extra cost. I suppose it’s because of insurance coverage. So Ju and Alex were the designated drivers for the trip. Firstly, it’s important to get your orientation right. It takes a while to adjust to driving on the right side of the road. So Ju made some little reminders, just in case…

The coast on the way to Santa Cruz was just beautiful. We had excellent weather even though it was a little chilly with the breeze.

Alex clowning around as usual.

Alex showing off…

According to this sign, not every American knows how to spell properly.

One of our other stops was at this picturesque lighthouse. I can’t recall the name of this lighthouse. It’s so nice that it deserved a vintage treatment. :)

How amazing it would be if I had a bride and groom to photograph here.

The waves in California are huge and intimidating!

The view at Santa Cruz. The weather was a little gloomy when we arrived.

The seagulls here are so bold. They don’t really bother too much with people around. Caught this one stealing someone’s leftover food!

In the States, equality for all is a big thing.

I guess these doggies know where to go to have a good time.

Oh, wonderful San Francisco!

This is my first trip to the United States. A couple of days prior to my trip, I was running around like a headless chicken trying to sort out so much work before leaving for 3 weeks. After 19 hours of sitting on planes and waiting at airports, I arrived in Los Angeles. Early the next morning, Alex and I took a flight out to San Francisco. I understand why people fall in love with San Fran. It’s a beautiful place with lots of exciting nooks and crannies.

Well, on the first day we arrived in San Fran, I told Alex, “Wouldn’t it be cool to cycle across the Golden Gate bridge?” And so we rented bicycles…

Which, ironically, costs more than the day rental of a car. The bike was USD32 per day, or USD8 per hour.

What we didn’t expect was that we’d be cycling for 4 hours almost non-stop. The ride from the city towards the Golden Gate bridge was lovely but there were some hills to navigate. And it was just soooooo far away!

Luckily there were lots of nice things to see along the way.

By the time we reached the Golden Gate bridge, our legs were aching and butt muscles cramping!

But the bridge is really beautiful. What an architectural wonder. Unfortunately, Alex lost his sunglasses here when we stopped on the bridge to take a photo.

We noticed these signs along the bridge. It’s kind of sad to think that people choose to end their lives by jumping off bridges. Hopefully by having these phones available, it would have saved a life or two.

By the time we reached Sausalito, we were just so exhausted! I forgot to take photos then! We took a ferry back to the city from Sausalito and met Jenny Sun & her husband Ju for dinner. After dinner, it took us another hour to get back to the bike rental place because we were trying to avoid going up those steep San Francisco roads! But there was no way out of it.

Needless to say, my legs felt like rubber the next day.

From a lovely sunny day, the next day, San Fran turned gloomy and it rained. The winds were so strong that most of the people on the streets found themselves with flipped umbrellas!

In the evening, the rain cleared a little. We spent most of the day around Fisherman’s Wharf and also visiting Lombard street (the crookedest street in the US). This time, we were smarter. We took the cable car.

We noticed some men on the streets, asking for donations for ‘canabis research’. Yeeaaaah, riiiight….

Had a pretty relaxing day and we even had time to take some silly shots of ourselves!

After 2 days in San Francisco, we left with Jenny and Ju for a coastal drive down to Los Angeles. But that’s another blog post.

USA, here we come!! And of course, WPPI 2010!

I absolutely love traveling. It is the first genre of photography that captured my heart. I am always excited to see new places, faces and experiencing different cultures. This 24th February, I’ll be leaving Malaysia to travel to the US for a few weeks with my husband Alex.

The main highlight of the trip is the WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photographers International) conference in Las Vegas from the 4th till the 11th of March. I can’t wait for this conference. It is such a huge event, with thousands of photographers traveling from all over the world to listen to world-renown photographers on topics such as portraiture, lighting, posing, business, commercial work etc.

I believe in investing money for education, and year after year, the Stories team attends various workshops. In order to improve, I believe I must always have this ‘learning’ attitude, even in years to come. At the end of the day, our clients are the ones who benefit, and if they are happy, we are happy too!

If you are living in the States, I’d love to meet up and get to know you – whether it is for a drink or chat, or if you’d like to have some portraits taken.

Do send me an email through the contact us page and I’ll be in touch with you! I’ll be blogging regularly from the States, so do keep watch over this space!