Vegas was fun! I was so glad I went. I absolutely thrive on learning new things and since I've been nearly 9 years in this profession (and I will NEVER say I know everything) - the new things to learn don't come by so often as they did in the beginning.
Traveling home was an interesting experience. I left on Wednesday, instead of Thursday so that I could put some "good mother" gold stars on my forehead and be home for my boys' birthday on Thursday. WPPI scheduling always dances around my boys' birthday. (I have two boys born on the same day...four years apart minus exactly 10 minutes). I don't know how I did that - but February 23 is a big day in our house. It sometimes almost seems like a second Christmas.
I left the warmth of Vegas, boarded my flight, and sat down next to two of the nicest women who were also photographers in a nearby town to where I live. We were able to talk shop the whole way, which made it a really fun and short plane ride. As the plane started to descend on Great Falls, Montana (where I was flying into), the captain came on the system and said that we were unable to land there due to the bad weather, so we were going to go to Bozeman. Bozeman?!?!? Nothing against Bozeman, but BOZEMAN?!
We made it to Bozeman shortly and we all deplaned and waited for more news. We sat and visited, and about 90 minutes later, we were allowed to reboard and we were on our way to Great Falls again. After a bit of a choppy landing, we touched down in Great Falls, 2 hours later. As we were deplaning there, we saw a haggard group of people who were waiting 2 hours for our plane to arrive so they could fly to Vegas. (poor guys).
My new friends and I needed some dinner, so we met at Cafe Rio in Great Falls. Cafe Rio is one of my FAVORITE places to eat. The restaurant chain started in Utah and has since spread throughout the Western U.S. I am so glad there is one a few hours away! Mmmmmm (I was so hungry that I actually ate that WHOLE thing. *cough, cough*)
The next task for me was to drive the three hours home from Great Falls to Lethbridge. Remember the bad weather I mentioned before? Ugh! The roads were fairly good until Shelby, when Old Man Winter showed up angry. White out conditions! I could not tell where the road was. I was looking at those posts with the reflectors on top on the side of the road like they were my lifeline. I couldn't see where I was going and they were my only indication that I was still on some sort of road. A few times, I followed them off exit ramps. I'd get back on the freeway and religiously look for my lifeline again. I was going about 40 kms per hour - so slow. Eventually I made it home. I was so grateful to be home. I was ready to celebrate with my birthday boys.
This was a fun day for me. I am that uncomfortable in front of the camera, that I actually find it is good education to be doing just that. Not only in front of the camera, but being seen through the lens of the great Bambi Cantrell. I've modeled for her classes before and each time it is a huge learning curve. When I put my subjects in uncomfortable poses so they can look good...I know exactly how it feels! I've done it!
This particular time, I showed up to the makeup artist at 7:00 in the morning. Yes... 7:00 in the morning, Vegas time. I was musing that 6-7:00 in the morning in Vegas has to be the quietest time of the day there. Peggy did my make-up, did my hair, and put silver body paint and rhinestones on me until about 11:30, right before lunch. I was stunned at how I looked. Dark make-up, blond faux-hawk, and a silver-lace-pattern all up my left arm and over my shoulder and onto my back. It was an ensemble that had to go together in order to look good. I went down to the tradeshow and found Bambi where she took me into the bathroom and dressed me up in a beautiful couture gown made out of garbage bags. It was gorgeous, sexy, and very comfortable to wear because it was made out of a stretchy material. I would totally wear that out on the town.
Here's my hair and makeup after I got it done (It's times like this where I wish I could have followed myself around with better equipment and a different perspective):
Here's me in that black garbage bag outfit! There is more to come!!!
When I was shooting the aurora borealis (see this post), I felt like an Oompa-Loompa from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was so glad it was dark outside. You see, I was doing some fancy-schmancy stuff in Las Vegas that required me to have a spray tan. Anyone who has had a spray tan knows what the first 12 hours are like...the first 12 hours where you didn't dare go out in public because it looks like you decided to changes races.
The next morning after I was out in the late hours photographing the beautiful northern lights - I was on my way to Las Vegas, flying out of Great Falls, Montana. Rest assured, I had a shower and I was surprised that the inside of my shower didn't look like an Oompa-Loompa.
Why was I going to Vegas? Well, the world's biggest photography convention, WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International), was happening and I wanted to be on the scene! I was also going to be helping out my friend Bambi Cantrell from San Fransisco. She is a legend in our field of wedding and portrait photography.
The first day I was there I wanted to catch as much print competition as I could. This was the first year in four years that I hadn't entered print competition. The deadline snuck up on me, so I let it go this time. I love the education of print competition and seeing the forefront of the portrait photography on the world stage first hand. I wanted to see the images get judged, and I couldn't wait to see the images that passed a certain score and got "hung" in the awarded gallery. This international event is where the trends are set in photography. At this point, any print competition speaks volumes to me. The creativity, the art, the techniques that are being used...I didn't want to miss it.
This convention is always at the MGM Grand, but I wanted to find a room that is a little cheaper per night, so I was able to book the Excalibur right across the street. I realize that "right across the street" in Vegas terms is actually a good jaunt, but I was up to the challenge. The other thing is that I went to Vegas all by myself...but, I have made so many friends over the years from attending WPPI and attending workshops and classes, that I was never alone...except to go back to the Excalibur and sleep there. Out of the 18,000 or so attendees, I was never alone. It was fun to realize. I had to run the gauntlet each night... walking to my hotel at night. I was, gratefully, escorted by my friend Doug Morgan the first night. There were some scary gangs of drunk people on the walking overpasses I had to go on the first night. From then on, I just tried to look like I was walking with other people walking across the overpasses...by matching their speed. It worked. I'm still here and in one piece.
The next day, Monday the 20th, I attended the tradeshow and caught up with people. I also spent a lot of time studying the prints that were scored high enough to be hung in the print salon. I recognized how different WPPI judges images compared to PPOC. There will always be the core techniques a winning photographer must have, but it is so fun to open up my vision to the world's photographic artists as well as appreciate what is created back home.
More to come...
Here's the view from my room in all it's point and shoot glory.