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WPPI 2007 photos now online

It’s been a couple weeks, but I’ve finally uploaded some photos from 2007’s WPPI conference in Las Vegas. We had a great time getting to know some wonderful folks in between some pretty heavy blackjack sessions. The best way to cope with that nasty red-eye flight out of Vegas is knowing you’re leaving with more money in your pocket and more friends in your address book, and that’s exactly how we flew home this year. Huzzah!
The trouble I have with WPPI is that I’m always torn between taking advantage of all the opportunities available at the convention and simply enjoying Vegas for Vegas’ sake (might need to stay longer after 2008 WPPI). The conference offers so. much. stuff. to see and do that you can easily spend all your time in Bally’s and Paris while totally ignoring the rest of Las Vegas. But that’s no way to enjoy Vegas, is it? (Especially when you bring along your significant other who wants to sit by the pool all day!) So I’ve decided the best way to enjoy WPPI is to not get angry with yourself for needing to GTFO and enjoy something completely unrelated to photography every now and then.

Of course, it’s kind of hard to get away from photography when you’re a photographer. If you’ve got your camera, you want to be taking photos of everything, and if you leave your camera in the room, you curse yourself for not bringing it with you! Again with the compromises, I decided to leave all the heavy gear behind in the room, and simply carried a body and wide angle lens everywhere we went. I like to put all my lenses aside and focus on using just one from time to time, since it keeps things very simple and forces me to focus on the compositions instead of the gear. I limited myself to a 50mm prime for several recent months, and I found it very rewarding. There’s a wealth of freedom in the limitations. (Hey, that sounds like a pullquote. Remember that!)

The most rewarding non-WPPI thing we did was attend the Ansel Adams: America exhibit at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. The photographs were obviously impeccable, and the selection was much wider than I anticipated. The best part, imho, was the adjoining room full of all sorts of Ansel Adams mementos, both significant and ephemeral. I mean, how often do you get to stand next to Ansel Adams’ freaking Presidential Medal of Freedom? Or his view camera? Or his tiny journal covered with pencil notes. So many powerful items in such a small area.

Incidentally, we also had the privilege of catching Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005 at the San Diego Museum of Art while we were out west. I was very nervous the Leibovitz exhibit would suffer from the same issues that seem to plague most contemporary displays: self-aggrandized material thrown together in haste. But I was very happily mistaken — like the Adams’ exhibit, the Leibovitz show was very powerful and emotional for me. Much of the work consisted of Leibovitz’s personal family photographs and those taken during Susan Sontag’s illness. There were plenty of her trademark high-gloss celebrity portraits peppered throughout (Aloha, Scarlett!), but I especially enjoyed the intimacy provided by her family work. {some photos.}

(See! Even our non-photography stuff was photography-related!)

As for WPPI, I really enjoyed all the dedications to the late Monte Zucker, whose 50-year career in wedding photography set the bar for so many aspiring photographers. His right-hand man, Clay Blackmore, gave a presentation at the Canon exhibition center that was so fantastic (wardrobe malfunction included!), I changed my schedule around to make sure I caught his 2-hour show later that night. The Canon booth was where the mojo was flowing this year. Whether it was Joe Buissink and Denis Reggie lovingly poking fun at Gary Fong’s new tail, or simply getting the opportunity to put my hands on the new Mark III, I could have hung out with Canon the whole time. I also enjoyed spending time at the Pictage booth meeting all the folks behind the scenes (sorry I missed you, Laura). Among the presentations, my favourites were probably by Matthew Jordan Smith and Brook Todd. Matthew reminded me I need to make some time to finally edit up more of my Lofoten photos, and Brook made me realize I need to fly out to CA to teach him how to use a computer. (While drinking Jack & Cokes out of red solo cups, of course.)

That was the experience in a nutshell. Our red-eye flight home was terrible, but the money we took away from the blackjack tables made the next day’s neck crick more tolerable. (Take that, Vegas!) If you’re a photographer, I highly recommend attending WPPI 2008. And if you’re in Vegas anytime soon, please check out the Ansel Adams exhibit. It’s super fantastic.


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Hi, there! My name is Justin Hankins, and I’d like to photograph the happiest day of your life. I have a reputation for taking incredible care of couples just like you, and can’t wait to surprise and delight you!

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