photo by Lydia Shannon
Wow, what a week in Vegas we had.
I’m sure that same thought has passed the minds and fingers of many of the 12,000 or so attendants of WPPI 2010. It truly was an amazing week, and it flew by.
We started this year with big plans for our actual time at WPPI. Last year we teamed up with Dane Sanders to bring the first WiFi Blogging Lounge to a photo industry event… and this year we all wanted to one-up it. Pictage had stepped up as sponsor for the booth… it was renamed the New Media Lounge… Dane was providing live streaming interviews and vignettes… so we decided to try something new and provide a live photo stream and a general presence to help people with their new media questions on a one-on-one basis.
We were also asked by our friends at SmugMug to speak at their booth about video marketing, we were hired by KISS to shoot a fun party video, we planned our own lighting workshop for 20 people the day before the tradeshow started (will be shown in another post), we planned on attending numerous parties… and of course hoped to do the usual and make new friends and strengthen old relationships.
You know, just a couple of small plans.
New Media Lounge
Instead of just having a lounge like we did last year, we wanted to actually offer something fun and different. We settled on a live photo stream that would literally update itself as we took photos no matter where we were, as we took them. We knew the technology existed, we just had to figure out what would work for us.
Pictage really did an awesome job of making the New Media Lounge what it was this year. They were also completely supportive and helpful in getting us exactly what we needed for our contributions to the booth (two large LCDs for one thing) so that we could make this happen.
They also had their Pictagerazzi (absolutely brilliant idea) who were taking pictures all around WPPI, and a few of them were contributing content to the booth’s live photo stream as well. It was great! If you were at WPPI there’s a REALLY good chance your photo was taken by one of them… you can find them here. They are also doing a special where you can get 5 prints free, so check it out!
We truly couldn’t have asked for a better partner for the lounge, and are very hopeful that we will team up again and be able to take it to the next level and make something even more amazing next year.
We got in contact with the amazing folks at Pelago, the company who created Whrrl (a location based photo/text/check-in sharing service). We liked their service, their iPhone app and their web interface. As we spoke with them and worked out our plan with them… we came to like their people too. They basically set up a custom page for us that would look great on one of the big screens at the booth and would automatically update itself every time a new photo was taken on the stream. Before we found Whrrl we had looked EVERYWHERE for a solution that would do what we wanted… and found nothing. Coming across Whrrl was truly the most lucky thing that could have happened to us.
The Whrrl service itself is based on location check-ins… and everything you do revolves around them. You check into a location (it uses your phone’s location service to give you a list of places in your immediate vicinity but also has a search function in case you don’t see it listed) and once you’re checked in you can do a variety of things. We were using it mainly to add photos. The unique and wonderful thing about Whrrl is that you can add many photos to one check-in and they become a visual story that is contained nicely in one post. So no matter how many photos (or text posts) you upload… they are all in one spot and saved in chronological order… which allows you to view them as a slide show, and makes them REALLY easy to share.
Not only is the iPhone app amazing (and in our opinion better than Foursquare, Gowalla and Brightkite combined) but their web interfaced is designed in a similar fashion and works seamlessly with the app. You can caption your photos, tweet them, facebook them or share the event front page. You can also pretty much comment on anything in the Whrrl universe.
There is also a sort of game behind all the check-ins and you actually earn points not just for checking into places but also for making recommendations (favorite food or secret menu items at a restaurant or bar, etc) or for completing other peoples’ recommendations. There are also special offers that certain vendors (restaurants, shops, etc) can offer directly through the app. This will grow as the company and service grows, but it was nice to see some great discounts when we were at SXSW in Austin the week after WPPI.
We actually have more to say about Whrrl and the service and will write a longer review in a separate post coming soon! For now, go to Whrrl.com, install the app, and check out our WPPI photo stream!
Whrrl also put us in contact with Eye-Fi, the only company that makes memory cards with built-in wireless capabilities. It’s amazing. I really mean it. Like… I have no idea how they fit it all in such a tiny package. It seems impossible. It’s an SD card with built-in Wi-Fi that wirelessly uploads your photos.
We pitched Eye-Fi our project and they were able to send us 6 2GB Geo cards to be used by us and some of the Pictagerazzi who would be live photo-streaming the event.
Eye-Fi cards are equipped to upload wirelessly to any network you set them up for… and are already made to link directly with many services including Whrrl, SmugMug, Flickr and a host of other services. What’s great is that you can also have them send a backup copy of each image directly to your computer where it can be set to either drop into a folder or go straight into iPhoto. The images sit on Eye-Fi servers until your computer is on… then they download automatically… no action required on your part. Perfect!!!
We also used Sprint MyFi cards (3G mobile wireless routers) that we had connected our Eye-Fi (yes, we mixed them up all the time) cards to so we literally could upload live from wherever we were!
We also pitched the project to Olympus when we visited their booth at PMA and they provided us with two fantastic little micro 4/3rds cameras, the Olympus PEN E-P2. Wow. I am absolutely infatuated with this camera… and will write more about it in a full review in a separate post. Not only did it draw questions everywhere we went (mostly because of the awesome retro design) but the image quality and video quality were fantastic (you can see some of the video quality in the KISS video below).
The plan worked pretty seamlessly. Over 3,000 people viewed the Whrrl photo stream, mostly people from home who couldn’t make it to the WPPI and wanted to live vicariously through our cameras. Some were people who installed the Whrrl app at WPPI and just wanted to see what was going on. The photos also updated live on screen at the booth, right beside another monitor which provided a really cool view of all the tweets with the hashtag WPPI… and there were tons of them.
SmugMug Booth Talks
Jeff Jochum from SmugMug put together an awesome list of speakers for the three days of the tradeshow… set to happen right at the SmugMug booth. Lan and I were up on Tuesday and Wednesday and spoke about using videos to market your photography business. We weren’t speaking of promo videos, however, but videos made by the photographers themselves… while working. Our point was that you can make videoblogs without hiring an extra crew or assistants… definitely not a dedicated video team. We can all just shoot these videos ourselves.
Videoblogs can be a powerful tool in not only educating your clients but in allowing them to feel they already know you before your first meeting. They’re also a great look behind the scenes of what you’re doing for other photographers who might be fans of your work and style.
SmugMug put together quite a good variety of talks and we were happy to be a part of it! They also printed an AMAZING metal print of one of our more popular photographs… a shot of Brigitte Dale.
One of the big attractions of any major expo/tradeshow is the fact that everyone throws a party. Some of the skill that one develops over the years has a lot to do with which parties you want to attend. We had our eyes on a few but pretty much like to go with the flow… the only one we knew for a fact we’d attend was the KISS/Pictage Studio 54 party because we would actually be working part of the event.
Sunday: Pictage Party / GO|BEE Party at the Luxor
After our lighting workshop on Sunday we decided to head over to the Pictage WPPI Private Party at the Luxor which then turned into the WPPI GO|BEE party. Last year this one was off the chain, so to speak, and was at one point at shoulder-to-shoulder capacity. We decided to attend this one a little earlier this year and came as things were just getting fun. As always the photo booth was a blast… and we got to hook up with Mike Larson again after hanging out a bit earlier in the day at our workshop.
Afterwards we took off for some delicious McDonald’s where Joe showed off his amazing burger eating skills (literally an entire burger in ONE BITE that you can see over on this post on Lydia’s blog.
Monday: Mike Larson’s Character Talk
I’ve met Mike Larson on numerous occasions, but we really got to know him this year at WPPI. I hope to some day write a post JUST about the importance of using WPPI not ONLY to run around meeting lots of people and making new connections… but also to spend the time to strengthen relationships with old connections.
Mike stopped by our workshop on Sunday for a bit to check it out (with Eric Farewell who we’ll talk all about in our post about our workshop), then talked with us for a while at the GO|BEE party, then came by the New Media Lounge and spent a good deal of time chatting with us there on Monday morning. Although we’d never invested time in getting to know each other… I was SO extremely pleased to get to know him now. I came to find that he is a kind, genuine, giving person who’s also just a cool, fun guy to hang around. So when he invited us to stop by his talk on character Monday night… we just had to… and although we meant to just stop in for a little while, his words and message were so compelling we had to stay for the full session.
It was awesome. We sadly missed the beginning but what we heard was wonderful and the reaction from his audience was amazing. I look forward to a lot more time spent with Mike in the future and was grateful to have the time with him we did at WPPI this year. The man’s got character (get it?)!
Tuesday part 1: Pictage Studio 54 Party with KISS and ShootQ
Studio 54 is a pretty darn cool place… and Studio 54 during WPPI is a pretty crazy place… and KISS and Pictage made it a heck of a lot cooler AND crazier for a few hours on Tuesday night. This was the party we had been looking forward to… and it was also the party that KISS had brought us in to shoot. They basically just wanted a simple but fun party video that would showcase their awesome fashion show which displayed their colors on some beautiful models in a runway setting. You know… every day normal stuff.
The party was fun, the alcohol flowed, the crowd was RIDICULOUS, and the show was amazing. I guess better than mere words, the video will speak for itself. Needless to say, it was a great time for all who attended and we were happy just to have been there.
Tuesday part 2: SmugMug Sleepover Snuggie Party
After a little bit of shaking it on the dance floor at Studio 54 we headed upstairs to the SmugMug sleepover party… where there was definitely no sleeping going on… but there were a heck of a lot of Snuggies.
I will admit, I’m not a fan of the Snuggie. The function makes total sense… but the look of it… I just can’t get over it. I will ALSO admit though that on the cold outside balcony… I had a little bit of Snuggie envy. Oh yes I did.
Word has it the party was shut down soon after we left… which was sad but also understandable… no one should be allowed to have THAT much fun for too long.
At the SmugMug party was Scott Jarvie, who was doing some amazing things with his Jarvie Cam.
LAST, but most definitely not least… we have a lot of friends we rarely get to see… and WPPI is one of the places where they all end up at once. I won’t even try to list all the amazing people we got to hang out with from our past… or great new people we met… but here are a few photos of just some of the people that we saw AND were fortunate enough to actually break out a camera with. If only everyone would share their photos on places where you can tag your friends (hint: Facebook, Flickr) we’d have so many more! ;)
Special friendly thanks definitely go out to Lydia Shannon, Jessica Ashley, Erin Campbell and Megan Beth. They spent a ton of time with us and made sure we were ALWAYS having fun. We had an amazing time and would change none of it… except maybe when Erin wandered off to the oxygen bar and we had to go searching for her.