WPPI was A.MAZ.ING! ... Part I

It's a double dose day cause I don't want to wait till I get back from Seattle!

There is just so much to share and tell and express from my experience with WPPI. This was my first time attending WPPI. I heard about it last year but was so new in my journey that it just wasn't feasible. This year I MADE IT feasible even though it shouldn't have been. And I am so (one million times so) glad that I did. 

The experience has truly changed me! Both as a photographer and as a person. I soaked everything up and took something from every single individual experience that presented itself. I made amazing friends (shout-outs to Leroy, Molly, Bethany, Amber, Jesse & Matt, Kevin & Fundy, Everem, Bryan, Tony, Josiah, Spencer, Ben, Loren, Eva, Susan, RengieDanielle, Tasha, Elisa, Michelle, Kalli and so many more!)

Left to Right: Bethany, Me, Molly, Noelle (we met Bethany and Molly the day before)

I flew into Las Vegas absolutely sure that great things were going to happen! I'm telling you this because I would bet that no first timer had a more incredible experience then I did this year and I believe it had to do with attitude. (okay I'm totally crying right now). I don't know how to even express this in type. I wish you could see me right now and I could just talk with you. My hands are trembling as I try to type and my heart is so full. I had person after person present the most fantastic things to me and I took each thing for everything I could. We will be making a little slide show to show you soon. And I will go into so much more... 

It's gonna take days (actually months because of some of the insanely fantastic people who will be featured here) to share all this. But let me illustrate one example. 

Noelle and I were heading up the escalator. First I should say, we were talking to everyone we encountered not just 'hi' but getting to know them and letting them get to know us - that was a big part of why we got to much out of WPPI. Back to the story... As we assended to the second floor of the convention a man asked us about WPPI. He asked us what we were wanting to get from it. I think he was trying to call us out a little. ;) I very boldly answered and basically bullet pointed out what I'd already taken from the convention, what my goals were and how they were being surpassed. I surprised him and when we got to the top he said, "you know what, you come over here." Leroy continued to talk with Noelle and I, we got deeper and deeper into conversating, he had been to the first WPPI (30 years ago) but hadn't been in "eons". As we continued to talk, we walked over to a corner of the foyer area and he began to unzip his bag and pull out gear (this was gear I dream of) and he started teaching me. Right there, set off just barely from the croud he took time and started teaching me fundamentals for no reason except to share. 

I was in awe and learning things about lighting that all the books (and there were about 6 at this current time) hadn't made so obvious and clear. It was incredible. Noelle and I soaked up everything this new friend was sharing and we we're not wanting to leave for the masters class we'd paid for but he insisted we not miss it. 

We told Leroy how we were going to be shooting the following day with some friends and Noelle was bold enough to ask him to join us (NOELLE ROCKS!!) And he said yes. He told us that this would be his contribution to WPPI, giving back to us! 

The next day was incredible!!! I'll show you a video Leroy is making as soon as it's ready and give you the next part of the story. But needless to say it was incredible for Bethany, Molly, Noelle and I!! 

Just to give you a feel of what kind of caliber Leroy is in... The highlight of his career was photographing Muhammad Alee!! The highlight of mine was having Leroy introduce himself to me! 

Leroy will forever be a dear friend and mentor from this point forward he emailed me this morning and this is how it ended...

"If I could leave you one tidbit of inspiration this morning… it’s this. You were not built to break. Three kids, a spouse & big dreams are a load; but you are a champion. Have an incredible day!"

I'm a cryer so I totally lost it when I read that! Could you imagine how great we would all be if we each had encouragement like this? 

I don't have time to have this edited I have to get to Seattle for a shoot tomorrow so sorry for the inevitable errors! I'll fix when I get back. 


  1. I'm so happy for you and that you got so much out of this experience. I would soooo love to go next year. I've never been... I'm looking forward to seeing your experiences. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is the beginning of a great friendship!

  3. Great blog post! I feel you! Leroy and I met over a decade ago and he and I put our heads together on these great software programs coming down the pike. I could fill an encyclopedia with all he has turned me on to!

  4. Oh that is just fantastic!! I'm so glad you had a great great time! And JEALOUS!

  5. Leah- you are just a real go getter! I'm glad that part of you was rewarded and I look forward to hearing more about your experiences at wppi. Hooray for Leroy!

  6. I wanted to hit the "Awesome" button 30 times! I wish I could have come with you! I don't think I would have been prepared enough - emotionally, professionally etc. to have gone. I'm thinking about making that a goal for next year, if you decide to go again. I can't wait to hear what else you have to share. I love what Leroy emailed you, it inspires me. Thanks so much for sharing.
    erin d.

  7. This post translates perfectly into my situation right now and to be completely honest I've been teary eyed all morning since reading it! I wanted to attend WPPI so badly, but for many reasons (emotionally, professionally, but most of all financially) I could not attend. Sometimes, I wonder if I will *ever* get there...heck, I don't even own my own DSLR, but today you reminded it is all about attitude! If you believe in yourself, have a great outlook, and follow your passion, good things are going to happen. Thanks for the inspiration! (and for helping me get my attitude back in check!)

  8. hey leah-that is such a great story! i saw you guys there at the bottom of the escalator and said hi but you were so totally into the shooting that i don't blame you for not hearing. anyway, it was great to meet you, even if only for a second. wasn't WPPI great? i wasn't expecting such an emotional trip, i need a recovery trip now ;)

  9. Oh wow, what a story!! I have a photographer friend that attended this. I'm sure there was a lot of people there, but did you happen to know/meet Kim Fordham? She's amazing in every way!

    I am just giddy with excitement to read and hear about this convention. Thanks for posting this. I feel ecstatic and nervous all at the same time, with the hopes of attending such an amazing event and come home filled with so much knowledge and understanding. Oh I get excited just thinking of it!!

  10. Okay Marie. Next year (start planning now) you're going and we're having dinner!!