Karen Stott » | Sharing my mess, my hope & my journey cultivating an Intentional Home

WPPI Survival Guide ~ Top Ten Tips!

I must start off by saying that 2011 was my very first year at WPPI so I am by no means an expert. However I read A LOT, did a ton of prep and walked away from my very first WPPI with an INCREDIBLE experience. Going to Vegas that week changed my life AND my biz and I think it was hands down one of the best investments we have made in our business. And here is why I had such an amazing time… Dare I say it?

Well… it was NOT because I attended WPPI! LOL! As much as I believe in the conference and think it’s an amazing place to be, the hustle and bustle and who’s who game just isn’t for me. Luckily I had read enough ahead of time and was well versed in the do’s and don’ts of this adult high school playground. If I had gone in blindly I’m certain my experience would’ve been polar opposite. So that is why I’m here today… to “hopefully” help you have the best WPPI 2012 experience ever!

So… here the are…. Top 10 WPPI 2012 Survival Tips!

1. Stay at the MGM Signature!


Yes this is my #1 Tip! I feel that staying at the Signature was the BEST decision I made last year. I’m not in to gaming, or smoking, or all of the other gross stuff that Vegas stands for so for me I enjoyed being as far removed from that environment as possible. The Signature is a non gaming hotel and pretty much looks like any other high class luxury hotel. You’d never even know you are IN Vegas unless you go on the strip. Staying here gives you a gorgeous room with a mini kitchen and an amazing tub for relaxing your super tired feet! It is also closer to the convention center so the Trade Show and all of the classes are about a 2-3 minute walk. The food court is about five minutes away. The Signature also has it’s own Starbucks so you will avoid the long lines in the Grand. They also have a bunch of little sitting areas, beautiful lobby’s and a few lounges that make a great spot to meet up with friends.

2. Bring your own food!

Food in Vegas is EXPENSIVE and the food court is kinda ridiculous.  Eating out 3 times a day all week can get very expensive. Jessica was kind enough to go grocery shopping for our room since she drove and we all pitched in.  I highly recommend a grocery run the first day you are in town!  We had oatmeal and cereal, water bottles, soda and tons of snacks.  It was so nice to retreat back to our room for a pick me up and a snack without spending a ton of money and wondering where I would sit in the food court!

Me and my amazing roomies Jessica & Courtney! Photo from Jessica’s blog with permission of course.  Forgive the bad hair day… it was my last day in Vegas!


Don’t try and make it to everything! You will stress yourself out! Make a list of the business goals you have and what you NEED to grow in this year. Filter everything through that list and if it will help you grow in that area, do it, if not, pass it up. Like if you REALLY want to learn lighting but you think it would be cool to hear a wedding planner talk, you should probably pass on the planner. Being strategic in what you go to based on what you are NEEDING right now will help you have a more beneficial experience.

4. Set a budget.

Everyone is doing workshops during WPPI because there is a plethora of photographers needing them. That in addition to the crazy amazing Trade show is enough to send you into a financial downspiral of debt. Be intentional on your purchases. Set a budget and stick to it. And I beg you, please do not take your card into the Trade Show 🙂 Go and browse everything and leave your wallet in your room and if you want it bad enough, you can go back later. This will help curb any impulse buys!

5. Make a must see list not a full on schedule.

Last year I had my schedule SOOO jam packed that I literally didn’t leave room to eat! I wanted to do everything and it took about half of Monday to realize that JUST wasn’t going to happen.  I literally had my preboards printed, my show it classes scheduled out, a workshop, a shoot, and about 12 headshot shoots on my agenda.  I even volunteered in the shootsac booth for a few hours.  It was NUTS! I quickly realized that this small town girl COULD NOT keep up with that pace, and I surrendered the “non must do’s) of my schedule.  Sometimes there are just things you can’t plan.  Not even a minute after I sat down to hear the Women in Photography panel I got a text from a dear friend and mentor that she wanted me to come to her room and chat.  I’m not a name dropper so I will keep that private, but, let’s just say this isn’t a text you ignore.  So… I high tailed my buns out of the area and off to her room at 9:30 at night.  It was literally one of the BEST 2 hours of my entire trip and I could never have planned on that time with her.

So… just keep this in mind.  Every hour of your time in Vegas is very valuable.  Plan wisely where you will spend your time and what you will invest in.  You never know what a thirty minute meeting with someone will mean down the road.  For me, I am choosing to invest in people this year.  I have no idea if I will make it to one platform class.. except J&M’s because well… I ADORE them and want to support my dear friends.  This is just my game plan.  If you are in the beginning stages of your business you may want to attend every class possible.  Only you know what you need.

Do your research.  Make a Must do list and leave the rest up to the unexpected fun that is bound to present itself!

6. Share a Google Calendar

Last year there were a few friends that I knew I wanted to keep tabs on so that we could meet up for lunch when possible or stand in line for classes together.  We decided to share calendars so that we always knew where each other was “most likely” to be and where we could connect next.  Since we all had different goals and run different businesses we didn’t want to see the same things so this was a great option and worked extremely well!

7. Bring Walkie Talkies or switch to the Edge.

With 15,000 + Photographers on one network you can only imagine how difficult communication can be! Turn your phone to the E (Edge) Network or bring a walkie talkie if you are trying to keep in touch with one specific person. You think I’m kidding???? I’m totally not!

8. Plan to give back.

You will make far more friends and a much bigger impact if you simply GIVE. Go expecting to give.. not take and you will have a MUCH better experience. Last year I was SOOOO nervous to attend because I literally didn’t know more than a handful of people. I stayed with my dear friends Jessica Frey and Courtney Clarke and probably knew ten more people! I didn’t want to be alone and all 3 of us had crazy different schedules planned. So I posted in Showiteers which probably had 90 or so people at the time that I wanted to do some headshot shoots for free and asked if anyone was interested. My inbox overflowed with people wanting headshots and it was a BLAST! I met some of my closest friends in the industry from those shoots and some of them even turned the camera on me and gave me some fun shots! So think about it and figure out something you could offer… a way to give back.. then announce it and see what happens. I think you will be surprised!

Here is one of my favorites from the shoot I did with Jackie Gannon… View the rest of the Headshot sessions I did last year HERE.

9. Dress in LAYERS!

Vegas is tricky and as much as I thought it would be warm it was frigid!  Comfortable shoes are A MUST because you are walking EVERYWHERE!  But don’t forget to throw in a pair of heels and a sparkly dress in case you want to hit up one of the fab parties!  I found myself wearing leggings, skinny’s boots and cardigans everywhere.  You just never know when you will get too hot or too cold!  I thought I would need a swimsuit but it was just too cold and honestly there just wasn’t time.

I did an entire post last year on Packing for WPPI.  Read that post HERE.

10. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

There is a tendancy to walk away from WPPI a little overwhelmed and frustrated.  Do NOT let it get the best of you!  YOU are amazing!  So what if you didn’t get invited to the cool parties… or if so and so didn’t wave at you in the hallway.  It might seem like everyone there has it all together… and trust me, 90 % of them act like they do… but it’s okay.  Let them act that way.  They’ve got nothing on you, because YOU are who does that best!

If you go with

~ goals in mind…

~ areas that you want to grow…

~ relationships you really want to foster AND…..

~ you STICK to that…



YAY! We made it through the top 10! I hope these will help you to have a wonderful time at WPPI!  I hope to see you around! And if you do, please come up and say hi and if I may be so bold, tell me your name.  I am TERRIBLE with names but always remember faces!


So we know that Re-Branding seems to be the BUZZ word this year and we want to help someone out! We want to give someone a complete Branding Photo Shoot of yourself or your team to use on your re-brand! These will be 60-90 minute sessions taking place at WPPI and you can do outfit changes, go to coffee, do whatever! We just want to help showcase you for your new site and blog! We could even make it a fusion video if you want! If you are interested just head on over to our fan page, give us some “like” love and then leave a comment that says something about WPPI!!! In about a week we will collect all of the comments and randomly select a winner… or two! Who knows what we will feel like doing with all of the love from you guys!  Remember you have to LIKE AND COMMENT for your entry to be valid 🙂

Comment on our New Fan page and win a Re-Brand Photoshoot HERE!

Can’t wait to see you in Vegas!





  • Hope Helms - So helpful Karen! I will miss seeing everyone there this year but will share with the friends I know who are going.

  • Nancy Tate Mitchell WrapGirl - Wish I was able to attend…One year soon I hope! Great tips though for those that will be attending! Have fun and I can’t wait to read all about the City that Never Sleeps!

  • Sarah Bardo - golly I’m excited to see you and cuddle!

  • Jessica Frey - Awww…this gets me so excited for WPPI and seeing you again! What a great post – all of it is very very very true! Can’t wait to see you roomie and give you lots of hugs and high fives for the amazing year you’ve had!

  • Stacey Long - omg the photo of the trade show is totally giving me a premature panic attack, way to go karen now I don’t even want to go.

  • Daniel Boone Photography - This is an awesome post! So on point! I have stayed at the Mandelay Bay the last two years because I was not interested in staying at the MGM Grand. So excited to be booked in a one bedroom suite at the Signature! Thanks for all the great info Karen and thanks for sharing Jessica.

  • Elizabeth Langford - Fabulous advice Karen! 2012 is my first full WPPI experience… last year I only went for one day to go to the trade show. Looking forward to following your suggestions and having an amazing time… and of course that includes meeting you and Isaac in person!!

  • Kelly - Karen what a great post. Thank you for the great advice. I am bummed I didn’t get a room at the Signature but I’ll be at the Grand. Thanks for always being such a giver! God bless.

  • Elizabeth-Ann King - This is great Karen! Awesome advice… thanks! You are incredible!

  • Kristin Wall - Karen–this is an awesome post! Thank you for taking time to share with everyone! And THANK YOU so much for taking time out of your crazy busy schedule to give to me last year at WPPI…your help with my branding has been invaluable! Love you, friend!

  • Gina Colin Petersen - Love the posting! Thank you ~ I’m going to remind myself not to get overwhelmed and to stay in the moment!

  • Rachel Abelson - Wow! Such great advice for a first timer! Thanks for doing the contest! Can’t wait for WPPI!!!!

  • Kari - Thanks for the fantastic tips…..especially the last one! It’s my first year going to WPPI and I cannot wait!

  • Courtney Clarke - Aw Karen! Not sure how I missed this post earlier! You’re so sweet and I’m SO excited to see you again soon! We’ll have to have an updated “2011 roomies” photo! xoxo

  • Tammy Molnar - Thanks for sharing all of this helpful information, Karen! It’s our first year at WPPI so it’s encouraging to get such amazing advice ahead of time. we CAN’T WAIT to meet you and Isaac!

  • Mary Marantz - You are SO amazing!!!! Can’t wait to hug you!


  • Krista Marie - Thank you SOOO much for the encouragement! You have no idea how much it means to me! This will be my first year attending WPPI and I know I will be going in prepared after reading this! Thank you!

  • Karina Jo - Love this! Can’t wait to meet you all!

  • Jesse Tenorio - well said. hopefully I can meet many of you people there!

  • Lukas VanDyke - Awesome!

  • Susannah VanDyke {Lukas VanDyke Photography} - Yay Karen!!! Your tips are awesome, thanks so much for sharing!! I can’t WAIT to see you again this year! Though it might be too late to share a google calender, I will totally hunt you down 😉

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