Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tips & Tricks for WPPI Tradeshow

In the past couple of weeks I've seen a few posts on forums from newcomers to WPPI fretting about the tradeshow and curious about the best ways to go about tackling it. Anne has already posted a pretty great guide but I thought I would expand upon it just a smidge for you to hopefully demystify the tradeshow a bit and calm some nerves!

• Hit up the WPPI Tradeshow link on their website and print off the map. Trust me, this will come in handy!

• Confession: I'm a total geek so I also take the map and attack it with a highlighter. Everyone has their own priorities for their own tradeshow experience. If you are looking for albums, highlight all of the album companies in one color. If you are looking to buy some loot, highlight all of the booths that are selling loot in another color etc. I know it sounds silly but it helps me remember who was important to see and get my bearings once inside.

• Here's my usual plan of attack: visit one - see the sights and get the lay of the land, find good free loot (sorry, I'm a total sucker for anything that blinks) and get a price list from the sellers that are selling goods (Sammy's, Midwest Photo Exchange etc). Visit two - hit up the vendors that I really want to see (typically album companies and print suppliers). Visit three and more - wander aimlessly. Get what you WANT done first, then browse. If you browse first you may not make it everywhere you wanted to go :)

• Wear comfortable shoes and clothes.

• Water, water, water!!!!! If you aren't acclimated to the desert you are going to be dry anyways but the tradeshows are generally HOT so make sure to stay hydrated!

• I know I keep banging on about the hydration thing but trust me, desert climate (which most of us are not acclimated to) + the tradeshow heat makes you crazy parched. So make sure to also bring along chapstick and lotion, you will thank me for it later!

• If you are buying a bulkier item (camera bags, light stands etc), hold off on buying until the last day if it isn't a MUST HAVE. Often the booths that are selling will do deals the last day of the show so they don't have to ship the item back and the bulkier and harder to ship back the greater the chance of scoring a great deal (I did this last year!).

• Keep an eye out for cheap memory cards. There are generally great deals on them!

• Don't be afraid to compare prices between vendors there and vendors online! Sometimes it may SEEM like a deal but isn't.

• The cheapo batteries are cheap for a reason. Don't go bonkers ordering the cheap $10 batteries for your camera thinking you hit the mother load. I did that my first year, whoops. Turns out they are good for backups to the name brands and not much else as they last in my camera for maybe 30 minutes to an hour. Buy one or two for emergencies but don't order much more than that!

• If there is a neat freebie you want to make sure you get, hit that booth the first day - the really neat stuff tends to be gone quickly. My annual favorite is the tote from my beloved Shootsac booth. Also don't be afraid to ask someone where they got an item that catches your eye.

• Some of the retail sellers (Sammy's, Midwest Photo Exchange) have things in stock on site. Other of the retail sellers (B&H, Adorama) either have a limited supply or all of the stock is off site and will be mailed to you. If taking the gear home is important to you, make sure you know when you start shopping which ones have supplies on hand!

• If you ARE planning to bring things home, don't forget to make sure you have a way to GET it home :)

• If you are using an iPhone on the AT&T network, you may loose 3G signal inside the tradeshow area (last year this was a huge issue). Turn off your 3G to continue to get text messages and stay in touch with the real world.

• Many of the tradeshow booths will have speakers during the day. Sometimes the presentation is all about how awesome their product is but often they go beyond just the product and do more of a general presentation. The week or so before WPPI the vendors will start releasing timelines for their speakers during the week - it's a great chance to learn from someone up and coming or hear from a speaker you missed. Some of the areas fill up quickly so if someone is important to you make sure you nab a seat early on.

• One of the things that I actually reference to quite often that I pick up yearly at the tradeshow is paper samples from my photo lab. I know it's a weird thing but I really have found that it's crazy helpful when ordering products and press items because I don't always have something in every paper type. I highly highly highly recommend doing this.

• You will get a LOT of information and much of it is just too much to process but it is hard to sometimes slim down the options of what stays vs. what goes for sake of space and weight in luggage. Bring a self addressed pre stamped flat rate envelope or box and toss in all of your info from the tradeshow! No more worries about the weight! Ta-da!

• My biggest tip? DO NOT TRY TO DO IT ALL AT ONCE! You will miss something, get overwhelmed and regret it.

• Finally if you are feeling overwhelmed and crazy always feel free to say hi to me or any of the lovecats!! I can't speak for everyone but if you want to tag along with me at any time when I'm bopping around the tradeshow you are more than welcome, just say hi! I promise I don't bite :)

Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista (runs Clothes for Pros, clothing suggestions for photographers), travel guru, deal hound and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.


  1. Thank you so much for the awesome tips! It will by my first year at the tradeshow and I have a feeling you have saved me a lot of anxiety by posting this! Thanks so much!!

  2. One more: Set a spending budget and STICK TO IT!!! It is so tempting to splurge and buy lots of stuff while you're there. If you know you have certain items you want to buy (software, album samples, product samples) then set a price point of what you're willing to spend.

    You can save a TON of money getting show specials, but make sure it is on things you really need!

  3. Oh good one Christine, I meant to add something of the like and it totally slipped my mind. Thanks!!!

  4. You read my mind - I was going to write a similar post tonight! Excellent tips, Corey Ann!

  5. Great tips and so easy to read!

  6. Thanks for sharing such a useful tips. It helps the photographers....

  7. Thanks for the Photography tips. it really helps, sometimes we just tend to buy things that we first set our eyes on, so its better to make a list of priorities.


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