Every year I return from WPPI a changed woman. It’s the most inspirational and overwhelming photographic experience I’ve ever known. Years ago, before I felt ready to attend, I’d page dreamily through the WPPI issue of Rangefinder magazine, jealous of the upcoming workshops and events and goings on, knowing that there would be a day when I would not just want to attend, but should attend (and there is a very big difference between the two). And so it came to be and has been, ever since. Two years ago I was new, but ready. Last year I was seeking inspiration, and returned refreshed. This year I was both student and teacher, and thus reinvented. But despite my ever-changing status, and ever growing vision, one thing remains: as it may take a village to raise a child, so it takes a supportive team to raise my dreams from wish to reality. In the three years I’ve attended this conference I’ve met a geographic rainbow of photographers – literally drawn from every country across the world. And from these many faces, some fade, some I follow (blogs and facebook) but some become friends. And that, to me, is the single most important reason for attending conferences like WPPI. If you’re a photographer, you’ll know what I mean when I say your most valuable resource is more likely to be a fellow professional across the country than someone down the street. Depending on where you live, the climate for support between photographers can be chilly at best – everyone afraid to show their cards for fear of being copied or of having business stolen. And whether I knew it at the first, or just have come to know it now, I immensely value and am inspired by my interactions and exchanges with people who share my passion. And so, amidst the learning and teaching and eating and walking and sitting and note taking, there are several core things that truly keep me coming back – the networking and the friendships and the fabulous fun. Because let’s face it, for as cool as we know we are, sometimes we’re a little crazy (read: photographing food, each other, the ceiling, the drinks….) and how amazing is it to be able to be yourself with people who get it. Who get you. And who you can call on at any time with photo emergencies : “what would you do?” “I need a second shooter?” or “talk me down off this ledge.” This is my network. These are my friends.
So to those who’ve remained beyond the usual, I thank you. For being there. And for letting me be me when I’m with you. Even if I didn’t see you this year, you inspire me every day!
And now, a glimpse at the fun we have when we’re together….