The Giant ImagingUSA Post

I’ve been procrastinating writing this for a while, because there is just so much to say.. where do I begin?

Well, those of you who are facebook friends know that the trip didn’t get off to the best start when I called Jeff during my layover in Houston to find out that he and Jasper were in the Emergency Room. That’s right, I’d been gone for a whole 4 hours and all hell had already broken loose!

It’s kind of a long story, but in a nutshell – Jeff was putting wall tethers on the big screen TV in the bedroom and using the electric drill.  He was attaching them to the wall and Jasper was pressing the button on the drill and all the sudden starts SCREAMING as if he’d been hurt. When Jeff rushed over to see what was wrong Jasper said something about losing Daddy’s screw – all gone, need new one.. etc. Then Jeff heard Jasper gulp really loudly as if he’d swallowed something..then he asked Jasper if he swallowed the something and Jasper said the tiny screw..and Jeff couldn’t find the drill bit.

So, he rushed him to the ER where they x-rayed him and determined there was no drill bit anywhere in his system and then fed him a cookie to see if he could swallow and eat ok, which he did just fine and now the ER is his new favorite place.

Jeff found the drill bit under the radiator the next morning!

So, totally NOT the way to start 3 days away from your baby for the first time, but I was quickly comforted when I got to my amazing suite at the Contessa in San Antonio. Yes, a whole living room, bathroom and King size bed JUST FOR ME!

I had debated about getting a roommate, someone from Clickinmoms or ILP or someone else that I “know” from online, but in the end I’m so glad I opted not to – it was completely luxurious and self indulgent and I enjoyed every second of it!

Oh wait, going back a sec.. I was on the plane looking through some of my wall guide examples that I stored on my iPad when someone across the aisle from me said “Hey, are those the Photographer’s Wall Display Guides? I was just on that site a few days ago!”

So funny. It turned out that he was a photographer named Kevin Millard, who I ended up hanging out with quite a bit.  Kevin is going to be big in the photography world someday, and while he gets there he’ll be holding  the door open for you and saying “thank you ma’am” the whole way.

Here’s a picture of Kevin on our last day:

Kevin Millard

(I have NO idea what sort of ninja move he’s trying to do here! Kevin?)

But anyway,  the first morning I set my alarm for 6:30,  thinking perhaps I’d make the 7am class at the convention center.. I BARELY made it to the 9am class (I felt like a delinquent teenager!)

I chose to see Hanson Fong, which was interesting.. the talk was on posing. He focused a lot on how he “raises and lowers” people in group shots and showed a lot of before and after slides of a group before where all the heads are on the same level, and then after when he’d “raised and lowered” people. Not coincidentally, he sells these foam block thingies meant to take on location to have people stand on to get those staggered heights.

(This was not the first, nor the last talk where the speaker did a mini infomercial -or in the case of Bry Cobb it was not so mini! – for one of their products)

He also demonstrated his method of posing people so that you always have the slimmest person up front hiding the heavier person and showed before and afters. I do feel like this was a good class for me, because sometimes we get so caught up in getting the perfect light, the perfect background, getting the kids to pay attention etc, that we don’t focus enough on making SURE the adults look good. And we all know that if mom doesn’t like the way she looks, she’s not buying it, so it does pay off to take a few extra minutes posing mom in the most flattering way possible (dads too!)

Then, everyone gathered in front of the expo hall and waited to be let in and finally we all started making our way in like a giant heard of cattle:

ImagingUSA

I couldn’t have really avoided the giant WHCC booth if I tried, so I took a look around and noticed immediately that they are now doing die cut cards like Millers!

WHCC boutique cards

In fact, these die cut shapes seem to be EVERYWHERE now,  H&H has a few shapes and are adding more soon, Simply Color Lab has die cut cards AND stickers and magnets… I grabbed tons of samples of cards because it’s not like you can order just one as a studio sample (they only come in packs of 25!)

Here is a trifold card with a die cut magnet attached from Simply Color Lab. Don’t those make the best save the dates ever? I wish I had known about pro print lab press printing back when I got married :)

Simply color lab trifold with die cut magnet

Simply Color Lab die cut magnets

close up of die cut magnet

Back to WHCC – I wanted to see  their album covers and those “boutique” album bags they are now selling.  I was most interested in seeing what their canvas wrap album covers look like and was kind of disappointed that they didn’t have any that looked true matte canvas. The ones that were there had a protective spray that gave them a really glossy almost plastic finish.  I also saw in person how great their satin paper is (looks SO much like photographic paper!!) but I don’t think I could order those – anything but their watercolor paper comes back CRAZY red/magenta for me. Too bad because they look very nice.

Seeing those album bags in person confirmed what I had thought when I first saw them online.. I don’t like them.  There is just something not very refined about them, the fabrics/patterns just don’t do it for me. Too bad because they are a nice idea.

Also, I was suprised to see that WHCC now offers backdrops! I didn’t like any of them, but fabric backdrops aren’t really my thing, unless you are talking drop it modern..

Speaking of which I really liked the drop it modern patterns, but when speaking to the very beautiful (and tall!) owner, I made a point of asking about wrinkling.. she said that they definitely need a steam if brought on location, so that sort of nixed it for me. Maybe someday if/when I have a studio!

Next I wandered over to Finao. I have to say that their album covers are just unbelievably beautiful.  There is one new cover type with the rather unfortunate name “Erotika” (sorry, that’s kind of an awkward name to be discussing with your family photography client!!!)

I only got a crappy iPhone picture of it (I ended up being to lazy to cary my camera around!!) that does not even BEGIN to do it justice because you can’t see the metallic part but here it is:

finao

What you can’t tell from this image that only where the extreme highlights are (in this case the chrome of the motorcycle) is metallic, the rest is matte color. It’s just REALLY stunning, I wish you could all see it in person!

Right next door, Jerry Ghionis was at his booth talking and showing before and after slides of what a room looked like when he entered it and then what he got in camera (using OCF). AMAZING. This guy is a total rockstar. I left his booth vowing to master OCF.

Then I stopped at Graphistudio. I really wasn’t impressed with the “bendiness” of their album pages. Instead of being thick board, the pages felt to me the way paper does when you get it  laminated at kinkos! Don’t get me wrong, the images looked great, I just didn’t like the more flimsy pages compared to real album books.

Next door at the Nikon booth, I stopped to hear Ami Vitale talk about her transition from stills to film, but really, I was just riveted by ALL of her images!!  Definitely a highlight for me.

Next I wandered by the Wild Sorbet booth – this would not be the first or last time I saw them at the expo. They were EVERYWHERE!  I think they dropped their frames by other vendors booths to see if anyone wanted to build displays with them, so I saw their lovely frames many many places.. for example, at the simply color/canvas booth who had a whole display demonstrating their circle prints in Wild Sorbet frames:

circle prints in Wild Sorbet frames

Circle prints seem like a very nice way to offer something a little different to your clients!

For those of you who like the look of the Wild Sorbet frames, but not the cost,  go check out Organic Bloom ASAP!  Which brings me to dinner that night which I had with Andrea Sooter (half of the husband and wife team that own Organic Bloom) and her best friend photographer Brenda Horan and Brenda’s husband. After waiting outside in the cold wet for far too long, we had a very nice dinner and I’m happy to say that I’ll be doing SOMETHING with my wall guides to incorporate some of the organic bloom frames at requests of my customers and hers! She also gave me a gorgeous 5×7 frame – I don’t even have any 5x7s, so I put an old promo card in there – hence the brown bar at the bottom!

After dinner I headed over to the Canon Party where I ran into Kevin who said it was kind of lame and was headed to the WHCC party at Howl at the Moon.  The timing was great because I had been texting with Meagan Dougherty, a local photog and blog reader (hi!) that I was really excited to meet, and she was with Alicia Gould and Jenny Miller.

from left to right: Alicia, Meagan, Kevin and me. Photo courtesty of Jenny Miller!

I had been looking forward to meeting these girls (who I “knew” from ILP and Clickinmoms) and was really happy to finally hook up with them, however, a loud crazy free drinks party is not exactly the best place to get to know anyone! Meagan and I managed to exchange a few yelled sentences before we all finally went home. But wow, WHCC throws a good party!  If you don’t believe me, check this out:

The next day, no surprise, I missed the 7am class yet again (starting to see a theme ?) and met up with Katrina Gotschall, a fellow clickinmom’s member in time to see Joyce Wilson’s talk “A Golden Thread: 50 Years of Impact, Inspiration & Style.”.  It wasn’t probably the class I would have chosen for myself, but I went because Kat was going and I’m so glad I did.  Joyce is just incredible and the way she’s reinvented herself over her 50 year career, sometimes purely by mistake, was totally inspirational. A real highlight for me!

After class I had a free “porfolio review” by a PPA judge that I had signed up for before the conference. (I used my iPad which worked out great!) It was really interesting to see my photos through the judges eyes, I started to notice little “touch ups” I needed to do but hadn’t noticed earlier, and a few posing things that I can improve on.  Overall, the theme was that what sells well to clients is not necessarily competition material – there needs to be something (an emotional component?) that is more compelling. That’s something I really want to work on!

After my review, I met up with Jenny Miller on the expo floor and finally got to meet Courtney Keim and Sara Seeton, fellow clickinmoms Pro members that I had been really looking forward to meeting!   We walked around a bit and Jenny showed me this new album vendor called MemoryLink. They supply some other major album companies and their albums are gorgeous and very reasonable. They haven’t been selling direct to public for very long, but I’m really glad to know about them and will be getting some studio samples SOON. Particularly their self mount mini albums are unbelievably reasonable and cute!

I also stopped by Design revolution where I had to battle the hoards and managed to pick up a girl and boy newborn hat, and then headed over to  the Backdrop depot where I got this GORGEOUS  capturing couture camera strap:

My camera is now more stylish than I am!

That night I had dinner with the staff from  H&H (my print lab!) and I really enjoyed getting to know them in person. We have been working together on some  exciting things set to launch at WPPI, so it was so nice to put the faces with the names.  As far as quality, caring people, you simply CAN’T go wrong with these guys..It made me feel good to know that I’ve been trusting my business to people who care so deeply about their clients!

Speaking of H&H, they have new little die cut circle and mini square cards that are adorable! The square minis you can get in a super cool tin, which would be awesome for Seniors. I don’t do seniors (actually, senior photographs don’t really exist in NY!) but I immediately thought they would make great little gift tags for packaging.

square mini tin on the right

After dinner I headed over to Sara, Courtney and Jenny’s hotel room to hang out and drink wine with them and Alicia and Meagan. It was nice to have some quiet time to get to know these girls better seeing as the first time we met we couldn’t hear ourselves speak!

The next morning I went to a talk by Jason Groupp called “shoestring TTL” that I was pretty excited about… instead, it confirmed why I am SCARED of using flash – misfires, changing settings, switching back and forth between pocket wizards to fire vs. your speedlite to fire- the poor guy was having a really hard time, and the technical problems with the large screen monitors weren’t helping.

Then I had lunch with Kevin, Katrina and October (another clickinmoms member!) outside on the riverwalk, but not before Kevin shifted immediately into paparazzi mode (I can see why his brides must love him!) and got a few ridiculous shots of us in front of the Alamo:

Left to right: Katrina, October and me

But anyway, it was really nice to be sitting outdoors as our last day there was the only day we actually saw the sun.  Just my luck, I go to TEXAS and I still can’t get nice weather!

After that I headed to the airport, where the first leg of my flight to Detroit went by lighting fast thanks to chatting the time away with Minneapolis wedding photographer John Sharpe.  At Detroit I got delayed for a bit and didn’t get home to NY until until 2am! But all of that didn’t matter when I crawled into my bed and snuggled up to Jasper..

All in all I have to admit I was a bit disappointed in the quality of the classes that I took. I also wasn’t thrilled with the way they organized the class/expo schedule so that the classes had to start so crazy early.  As far as the expo, I heard that WPPI is about 3 times the size, so if I had to do it over again I might have picked WPPI instead. Certainly next year I will.

Hope you found some useful info in all that rambling, if you have any questions let me know!

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Ava says:

Wow! You’ve given me a lot of links to check out.
So… does the king bed enjoyment trump you wanting to be my roomie next year? :( [kidding! I would totally understand if you want your own space]

ariana says:

Of course not Ava! Maybe we can get adjoining suites ;) KIDDING!

Alexis says:

Sounds like a great time…sorry I missed it. LOL@ Hanson Fong! I’ve so sat in on that presentation before– Informative but you’re right, definitely has an infommercial vibe.

ariana says:

Thanks Crystal, they definitely are.. they told me they are working now to get them into their software!

crystal says:

Great article Ariana! It sounds like a great time. I really hope H&H will get more die cuts!!!

jbhat says:

I think it’s so cool that you went to this. And next year, at the better one, be more confident! You’re not a “bother!” OMG, what if it’s held in Seattle, and you didn’t call me because you thought it would be a “bother.” I’d be so mad at you!!

jbhat

ariana says:

Jb, more like I’d be showing up with my bags at your doorstep LOL!

emily says:

Very informative post! I, too, found the classes to be lackluster this year. Last year they were so energetic and motivating!
AND great to hear that you’ll be teaming up with Organic Bloom..yay!

AnneMarieZ says:

how wonderful to find your blog again!!!
I so loved this post! I couldn’t get away this time.. perhaps next year in N.O. Will you be going?
to have a bed all to your own.. oh, how luxurious! lol!
I hope to be able to follow you more often!

KatrinaLee says:

Great post! Love the pictures and commentary! :D I am so glad I got to meet you!

John Sharpe says:

Ariana! It was very nice meeting and thanks chatting with me all the way from San Antonio to Detroit…you’re right, the flight felt lightning quick that way. BTW, I will definitely be looking into the die-cut magnets from Simply…they look great…cannot believe I didn’t pickup a sample. Gonna have to call them!!!

Heather says:

Having that lovely suite to yourself make it seem like a worthwhile trip to me!
Thanks for the great post!

Jennifer says:

Dawn and I missed you – she mentioned the possibility of meeting up with you at IUSA (something about exchanged phone numbers or something). Sounds like you had a good time!

ariana says:

Hi Jennifer, I know, there were a few people that I missed.. I guess I was a little too reluctant to “bother” people LOL! :)

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