A Trade Show for all Reasons
We just returned from the WPPI conference in Las Vegas. Over the past 15 to 17 years of attending this conference and trade show, we’ve noticed major changes.
First in the size of the trade show, where the early days it was a really small group of vendors with small booths to then super huge booths and too many vendors to see in one day in the years between 2010 and 2017, and now back down to a very manageable size trade show to take in all the new products for wedding and portrait photography or photography in general.
Another change we’ve noticed over the years is that while the first shows were predominantly male oriented, the tide shifted around 2010 to many more and younger women photographers in the classrooms and wandering around the trade show floor.
Last year, the show was at the Las Vegas Convention Center with the classrooms in that same location. The trade show floor was too large for the number of booths and basically everyone seemed to get lost or be late for whatever they were trying to do. In 2018, WPPI was again based at one of the large hotels. For 2018, and probably for the next few years, WPPI was at one of the Mandalay convention centers, and the size of the room felt right for the number of vendors at the trade show. The classrooms were around in the same location, however we did see a lot of people moving quickly through the convention lobby and halls trying to find their classes.
And this year, for the first time since we started attending WPPI, the trade show seemed smaller than the previous few years. The classes were as diverse and plentiful as in the past, however, there were not as many divergent product manufacturers, like gizmos and gadgets on the show floor this year. There were fewer print houses, studio management software booths, and studio insurance companies in the room. The equipment deals were still abundant however, there were fewer retailers - Only Adorama, B&H, Samys, with one local retailer that we could find. So in 2018, the show actually seemed more focused than previous shows- pun intended.
What did we see that was special this year? The big camera manufacturers each had large booths with great displays of the cameras and lenses. With the smaller crowds, it was much easier than in the past to actually get to talk with someone in the booth and test products. As in the past, camera manufacturer also held classes in the booth with several of their professionals teaching lighting, lens choices, posing, etc. And these classes in the trade show were all free and for once, not overcrowded. You could actually see what was being presented. Each camera brand also offered free sensor and lens cleaning if you brought your gear in and were willing to wait.
Adobe had a theater-styled classroom on one side with fabulous classes throughout the day. Sony showed their new AR7 III with reportedly much better battery life and other new features. We loved testing the Zeiss lenses with different camera bodies. Basically a great show and useful classes for a variety of photographers. And yes, we plan on returning in 2019.
So what was the coolest thing we saw?
Canon demoed a new flash unit that not only works as an affordable flash for any Canon, but also has some AI built in to help the photographer learn where and how to bounce light. This “R2D2” type flash spins around, measuring distance to the subject, and looks for a ceiling then angles the flash head to what it estimates is the proper angle and distance depending what you are photographing. And if you turn the camera to shoot in portrait mode (vertical), the flash swings around to aim the flash head the way it should be pointed! Not only is it a wonderful learning tool for the photographer, it would make a great flash unit to have in your bag all the time. This flash unit would be ideal for any photographer, especially when you suddenly are asked to photograph a person when you had not planned to, when you are not in “work mode” and might forget to perfectly angle the flash head as you quickly take some shots! Happens to everyone and Pros some point!
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