March 6, 2012

WPPI & ShowitUnited 2012 | A Fargo Wedding Photographer’s Adventures in Vegas

Posted in: daily life

2 weeks ago I sat at the dinner table with my family stumbling over words. My dad looked at me and teased, “What’s wrong with you!?”  “I’m too excited about ShowitUnited!” I stuttered. My sister looked at me and said, “You’d better tape your business card to your head so people know who you are, because by tomorrow you won’t even be able to talk at all.” lol!

Yes, I was that excited about going to WPPI and ShowitUnited! For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s the Wedding and Portrait Photographer’s International convention where over 16,000 photographers from around the world come together to learn and meet each other.

ShowitUnited was a sub conference of WPPI with about 300 people,  but they bring in many of the same great speakers. It’s much more intimate and exactly what I needed to make friends!! Plus I’m part of the showit facebook group so I’ve gotten to know many of these amazing people online for the last year. It really felt like a reunion instead of a first meeting!

On to the photos!!

I’ve always loved flying and the sense of adventure in the airports!

On our flight the guy sitting in front of me was a very tough looking 20 something; earrings, hoodie, low waisted jeans, but terrified of flying! The poor guy pulled up his hood and gripped the seat with white knuckles, literally shaking. Once we were up he had a bit of liquid courage and seemed fine until we approached Vegas, then the hood came back up and the shaking started again. I felt bad for the guy! Personally I was enjoying myself!

Our flight was about 10 minutes late and by the time we ran through the huge airport we were 45 minutes behind schedule. The friend I had arranged to pick me up wasn’t at the pick up location and I started feeling really bad for making her wait so long. I tried to text her but my phone wasn’t finding her number (I was SURE I had it!), after a mini panic I finally found her number and called her. She was at the hotel waiting for me to call before she came to pick me up.  By that time the Showit bus was at the airport picking people up so she suggested I take that instead. Whew! All that confusion but that’s what adventures are for right?!  It makes life more interesting when you have to improvise.

We were met at the showit bus by Andrew – the amazing ginger headed showit crew member who is often on the daily showit live webcast. It was the weirdest thing to see him in person, in real life! Hugs all around welcomed us onto the bus. That’s how showiteers roll, hugs and smiles, welcoming and comfortable. It’s awesome!

The photo below is Lindsay Kaye, and Samantha Mayer – both Showiteers from Fargo. We call ourselves the Fargoteers. Cheesy I know.  😉  We were all on the same flight so we got to ride the bus together!

My first view of the city outside the bus window:

Once we checked into the hotel room we literally had to speed walk across town to get to the Cosmopolitan hotel where the Wicked Spoon Buffet had set aside a room for the first official Showiteer Dinner (thanks  Trevor Dayley for arranging it and putting your credit card on the line for us!). We were a little late but it was the perfect start to a fabulous week! Everyone visited with the people at their tables, then we each stood up to introduce ourselves. Trevor joked around teasing people.

We milled around hugging and laughing. “Oh you don’t look like your profile photo” or “You look JUST like your profile photo” were common words that night.

It was so fun to introduce yourself to someone and have them break out into a huge smile, say “Oh YES!!!!” and then get a big bear hug. I don’t think I’ve ever been around a group of people who were so welcoming to each other.

When the dinner ended at 9PM I rounded up a few people who wanted to do a quick grocery run since our rooms had mini kitchenettes. Josh Smith had a car so we all piled in and took a tour of the city as we drove to Whole Foods. Josh was an awesome tour guide since his dad used to live in Vegas! He knew all these cool facts about the city (did you know the light from the Luxor hotel in Vegas can be seen in space!)  After our grocery run we drove right passed the famous Vegas sign so of course we stopped for a group photo. Thanks Josh for taking it (and stopping there for us tourists!).

From the right: Sarah Mariel, Me, Lindsay Kaye, Chelsea LaVere

Monday our classes started. We had great classes to choose from and the crazy part was that even though we got tickets some people were not showing up to their class, so I got to slip into a lot more than I signed up for. Each one was so interesting, motivating and inspiring. Seriously my head is so full of new information I’m still processing it.

But as much as I loved the info I REALLY LOVED the people! I was proud of myself for talking with photographers that I’d been following (ie: stalking) online for years! It was like a photographers Hollywood. I’d walk down the tunnel and there was Gerry Ghionis. Or Kenny Kim. Or Dawn Davis. or Tim King.  I would strike up conversations and chat with each one. Everyone was incredibly easy to visit with! I came back loving them even more!

In the afternoon Zach Gray gave a coffee demonstration just for the fun of it (and because he’s a little obsessed with coffee – seriously). Totally enjoyed taking a break from the photography talk, and getting to visit with him for 20 minutes afterwards about his passion for coffee was so cool!!

Trevor Dayley was one of my “Targets” for the week. Seriously if you are a photographer you need to follow his work. Not only is his work killer, but his heart for his clients, wife, and 5 kids, has challenged my business thinking over and over. Love you Trevor!!

The photo below shows the mood of the whole week. All about relationships!

Jody Gray was so sweet and easy to approach! Must be the homeschooler connection. ; )

The couch below was in the lobby of the conference center and the hang out spot. It was a safe zone to come and visit with anyone! I can’t quite describe how awesome the atmosphere was at the Signature with ShowitUnited vs WPPI. It was almost funny. You would walk through the tunnel to WPPI and people there didn’t look you in the eye, they had their walls up. But as soon as you came into the signature and showitUnited space everyone smiled at you, looked you in the face, welcomed you with laughter. It was special!
One afternoon Mom and I (my mom came to enjoy my awesome suite and have a 4 day writing retreat!) walked around during a break. The weather was gorgeous, in the 60-70’s and sunny. So much nicer than 20 and snow!! : ) The center photo below was taken in the signature windows which are gold! Well probably not REAL gold, but still…
One evening  we had Photographers UNITE. An night where Christian photographers come together to worship … in Vegas! Brian Wurzell lead the worship and Albert Tate gave a hilarious, powerful message.
Setting up:
UNITE was broadcast over the website so my sister, brother and dad were able to watch it too. It was so special having them part of my week – in a weird time warp kind of way. ; )
They had to take out the chairs and have people sit on the floor to fit in the room!! Not a square inch left!

Josie Kay was one of my new friends this week. Such a lovely woman! We walked the trade show floor together and kept finding things in common!! I wish you lived a little bit closer to me Josie!
Julie Story: Showiteer sweetheart. If you use showit and want a great designer check her out!
The thing about showiteers is we like to do crazy fun things. What’s more fun than doing a flash mob dance at WPPI??!! Yes, I really participated in a flash mob!  My mom came to watch it so I handed her my camera and she got some fantastic shots before and after.
Karisa (and the rest of us) getting butterflies right before it started:
Chach the official videographer of the event (his video link is below!). I was actually waiting to write up this blog post about my trip until the video came out so I could share it with everyone!

I’ve tried for half an hour to get the video to embed into the blog post – no luck. However you can click here to see it!! Thank you Chach for making the fantastic video for us!! It’s such a great memory!

After the dance we were all on a bit of a high:
Top left: Amber DeCicco. Top right: Michael DeCicco. Bottom Left:Jody Gray. Bottom Right: Emma Smith.
Wednesday was the last day of official classes.  So sad to see it ending. But still so excited about the amazing learning!! Zach and Jody being awesome as always:
Thank you to the Showit Crew (only 3 of many are pictured below) for the awesome experience, learning and new friends!! And Jeff Jochum (in the red cap) for awesome business coaching!!
Kevin, me, Jeff, DJ, and Andrew – love these guys! They have directly and completely changed my business in the last 3 years! “Thank you”  just doesn’t seem enough!

The last night mom and I walked around Vegas – because we definitely needed to at least see the Bilagio fountains!

I probably would’t have enjoyed Vegas as much if I didn’t have awesome friends and a reason to be there, but it was pretty spectacular place to look at architecture and glitz.The whole plane ride home I kept thinking about all the business ideas I’d like to improve on, and questions I needed to ask myself, and of course smiling over all the new friends I’d made! Seriously can’t wait until next year to hug everyone again!!

On a side note it’s amazing to me how fast things change when you sit in an airplane. I mean, just a few hours and you go from 70 and sun to 20 and snowing in Fargo. Can I go back?!


 Whew, if you stayed with me for this whole blog post you either were there with me and want to relive it, or you deserve a prize. ; )

In short I could have written this whole post in three words:  it was awesome!

Now to start saving up for next year!

Kandel Photography | Fargo + Minneapolis wedding photographer | Facebook Page 

  1. @ihaynes05 says:

    Very Nice recap. I saw myself in one of the photos. Cool!

  2. Dawn Davis says:

    Kris, It was really wonderful to see you at WPPI. We’ve been communicating online for so long, I think we met in MN back in 2008. You’ve come a long way since then. You’re absolutely adorable and I’m so glad you made it to WPPI this year. I loved reading about your experience! I hope that we can connect one day and enjoy a cup of coffee!!! xxoxoxox ~ Dawn

  3. Hannah says:

    Awesome post! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. KJK says:

    Yes Dawn, 2008! Hard to believe it’s been so long. I was so glad to run into you at WPPI, even if it was just a minute! I walked all around the trade show floor to find Bob but missed his presentation by a few minutes. Oh well, I got a hug from you anyway! Next year I will hold you to that coffee offer!! 😉 Blessings!

  5. KJK says:

    Cool! Which photo?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

follow along on instagram

Fargo Photographer

Copyright 2022