Just wanted to give you an update about my 2014 WPPI experience this year and share my joy — especially with my family in Australia who often wonder what Melissa and I have been up to. As the new directors of the WPPI competition, Melissa Ghionis and I along with the WPPI team, have spent months preparing for the competition and we were excited to see our efforts come to life as we prepared our judges, chairmen and print handlers for the weekend’s competition. Saturday morning arrived and we were so proud to see the competition being run like a well oiled machine. There was a 27% increase in entries this year. Thanks to Jason Groupp, Lauren Wendle and the genius behind the software, Brad Kuhns, we saw everyone embrace the changes. As good as it was, we already know how to make it even better. By the time our competition commitments finished it was time for my “What Would Jerry do?” presentation on Saturday night. Thanks to our very own DJ, Chris Saraiva, Nikon and Westcott the night was a huge success with people dancing, learning and having fun for a perfect energetic start to a great convention. I chose people from the audience and photographed them while was I tethered to the projector so everyone could see every click of my camera. There was standing room only and the energy was electric.
Day 2 of judging was even smoother than Saturday. The crowds in the rooms were bigger as we finished judging all the categories. The last major award was decided by 9pm as Melissa and I finished the first phase of our experience.
Thanks to our amazing team including: Nelly Arruda, Chris Saraiva, Ryan Schembri, Rocco Ancora, Tanya Wilson, Tabitha and Miguel Clarke, Henry Aarvold, Marco and Liz Henry, Lisa and Devon, our Ice Light and Picpockets: World’s Best Photographs booths were set up in no time. The Ice Light was a favorite among attendees as was the Ice Pack which was showcased and sold at the show for the very first time.
I was all set to present my brand new platform program on Tuesday morning. 45 minutes before I was set to present, my Keynote crashed and deleted itself from my computer. A disaster for any presenter. Luckily I backed it up, restored it, jumped in the shower and arrived to a full house. I apologized for being a few minutes late and began my presentation. A day earlier at the tradeshow, a deaf man came up to me and talked to me through his interpreter. He thanked me for creating Picpockets for the iphone as he now can show his clients what he wants them to do and how to pose for him. He said it has changed his life and now is looking forward to a fruitful career despite his hearing impairment. It was a true highlight of the convention for me. I invited him to my platform class on Tuesday morning and welcomed his interpreters on stage so he could not only understand my presentation on Cropping, Composition and Creativity but see the images on screen and see and feel my energy. Let’s just say that I had a ball with the interpreter and found out to communicate some colorful words. I ended my presentation by showing a unique album I produced. The album received the highest score for the single photographer album category but ended up coming 3rd overall. By the end of the album slideshow, the audience erupted in applause and gave me a standing ovation. I had to hold back my tears. I have received standing ovations before when I end with some powerful words but never for simply sharing my work.
At the end of the tradeshow, Melissa and I filled in for Anie Zanazanian (who couldn’t make it) to present a master class on marketing.
By the end of day 2 of the trade show I proudly spoke at the Nikon booth a couple of times and Westcott as well.
We woke up early for Melissa’s master class in the morning on “Fearless Sales.” She presented an incredible program and made a difference to everyone in that room. She looked incredible too btw!
As the last day of the trade show was drawing near, I was putting the finishing touches to the awards night script as I was co-hosting it with none other than one of my best friends, Roberto Valenzuela.
After 2 months of dieting, I lost 10 kilos/22 pounds to fit into my wedding jacket for the awards night. One of the highlights of the night was to see Melissa also in her wedding dress. Wow, she looked even more beautiful than the day she wore it!
We finally started the awards night and Roberto and I had a ball as our natural chemistry as best friends was obvious and we presented people with their trophies. Many of my friends won awards that night including countless Australians! I was proud to win second place (behind Ryan Schembri) in the inaugural In Camera Artistry category. Even before the winners were announced the crowd erupted in applause in their support of a category that celebrates in camera craft.
Overall I received second place in the In Camera Artistry category, 3rd place in Wedding – Single photographer Album category, 12 silver awards, 5 silver distinction awards and 3 gold awards.
Another memorable moment was when I was presented with my Grandmaster of WPPI trophy by Melissa. There was a standing ovation for over a minute and it is a minute that I will remember for the rest of my life. The love and respect that I received from the audience was powerful. I asked members of the audience to stand if I had hugged them during the convention. Over half the audience stood up! In my speech I thanked Melissa and our relationship for being my true success. I went on to acknowledge the negativity and hate in our industry and how we all have a choice. “I choose to remain positive and I choose to love,” I said. Some of the last words I uttered on stage was “WPPI is back!” It truly is. If you missed the experience I sincerely hope to see you next year. To Jason Group, Lauren Wendle, Jacqueline Tobin, Moneer, Jessica, Jodi, Brad, Hillary and the entire WPPI staff…to your and our success! A huge thanks to my team (mentioned above) for your commitment and execution. Your friendship means the world to Melissa and I.
It was a pleasure to meet people for the very first time and to cultivate relationships for those we have met before.
Easily the most tiring but best week of our life. xxoo