It is hard to believe that Imaging USA 2013 is right around the corner, and I want to share my tips with you to help you have an amazing time while you are there!
There are several large conventions & conferences every year for photographers, and each year Imaging USA kicks them all off. This year’s conference will be held in Atlanta, Georgia with pre-convention events starting Thursday, January 17, and the big event starting on Sunday, January 20, 2013. You can see the whole convention schedule here. I made a last minute decision to join in the fun, and I hope to meet you all there! This will be my third Imaging USA in a row (and my 5th WPPI conference this year), so I want share some tips I’ve learned over the years to help make the experience a great one!
What to Wear
I don’t know about you, but sometimes packing is the most stressful part of these trips. You will want to bring clothes for both daytime and evening wear, depending on what you plan to attend.
- Dress comfortably but professionally – You will be networking with your peers and meeting your favorite vendors. You’ll want to look nice, but your good jeans are still ok.
- Comfortable shoes for walking are a must – Convention centers are HUGE. You will be walking, literally, miles. I love cute shoes, but make sure the ones you bring are comfortable for miles of walking. Bring a spare pair in case the first cause blisters and you need to switch them out for the second day.
- Layers, layers, layers – Atlanta in January can be warm, it can be cold, it can be both on the same day. Wear layers so that if you’re too hot you can take a sweater off, and if you’re too cold you can put one on. You won’t want to carry a bulky coat around all day though, because you’ll have your hands full with product samples!
- How does it wear? – Don’t wear something you can’t sit in comfortably for two hours at a time as you sit in a panel. You want to feel comfortable so that you can focus on learning!
- Prepare to go out on the town – Plan ahead with an outfit or two in case you want to go out on the town for drinks with friends. Maybe a sweater and a scarf to put over the t-shirt you had on? A cute pair of shoes that you only have to walk a few blocks in? If you are planning to go to the official closing party, consider cocktail attire – I always see glittery dresses and tuxedos heading that way!
What to Bring
Now that we have that incessant what to wear question out of the way, what should you bring with you?
- Camera Gear – Maybe – This one is pretty much up to you. I only bring my camera gear if I have a shoot that I am participating in. I don’t want to carry it around all day, it gets heavy. Bring a point & shoot or your phone if you want to take photos of samples at the tradeshow. Bring your pro gear if you want to have it serviced by Canon or Nikon, or if you are doing a shoot.
- A Water Container – Long days full of learning make you thirsty. You’ll be talking a lot at the trade show. In years past, there have be water stations throughout the convention center, so if you have a cup, mug or bottle with you you can refill and save yourself from buying bottles of water.
- Business Cards – You still have time to get business cards if you don’t have them already! If you normally use high-end letterpress cards for your business that are more expensive than you want to hand out to your peers, pick up some from ProDPI or your favorite vendor. (If you meet me, be sure to ask for one of my new Business of Awesome cards I’m having them make! I love their smooth matte paper!)
- A Journal – You’ll want to take notes in panels, on the tradeshow floor, and maybe even while talking to people. It is always good to have a journal on hand.
- Battery Chargers – I charge my phone in my room at night, but it never fails that throughout the day the battery wears down. Probably because I use it to snap a lot of sample ideas from vendors at the Tradeshow. This becomes a problem at the end of the day when you need to text your friends to meet up! Toss your battery charger in your bag so you can juice up throughout the day, or get a Mophie Powerstation so you can charge your phone or iPad on the go.
- Snacks – I like to bring things that are easy to eat to keep me going like nuts and beef jerky. Have a favorite snack? Consider tossing it in your bag so you have it in a pinch.
Here are the new business cards for conferences and conventions that I made! I can’t wait to share them!
The Classes at Imaging USA
We are here to LEARN, after all!
- Choosing which classes to attend – Sometimes the descriptions are exactly what they are covering, and sometimes they aren’t. Ask your friends if they have heard the speakers you are interested in, they might be able to give you tips on who to check out.
- It is OK to leave – if you have a hard time deciding between two speakers, sit near the door and if you don’t like the one you chose, slip out and go to another one. You won’t be the only person to do it. Just be quiet and hold the door as you go!
- OMG, if I miss this one, I’ll DIE – if there is a speaker you just *have* to see, be sure to get there extra early to get a seat. Classes will close when the room is full.
- Be open to hearing speakers from outside of your field – Just because you are a boudoir photographer, a senior photographer might have some really great tips you can use. Some things are universal. More & more boudoir speakers are out there, but when there isn’t one, choose another field to check out. I’ve sometimes learned the most from speakers I’ve never heard of, in fields different than my own.
The Tradeshow at Imaging USA
I won’t even bother denying it, the tradeshow is really my favorite part of the whole thing. I love meeting the vendors I’ve worked with all year long, meeting other photographers I’ve met online, in forums, or in the past years. Oh, and the sales! That part doesn’t hurt either!
- Booth speakers – Many of the booths will have speakers scheduled to talk throughout the day. If you get a tradeshow only pass, this is a great opportunity to hear some speakers cover shorter topics.
- Set a budget – set a budget before you ever walk in to that tradeshow. You don’t have to spend it all, but make sure you know what you can spend before you hit the floor. It is easy to be swept away and want to buy it all!
- What are you looking for? – Make a list of items that your business needs. Know exactly what you are looking for, before the sales lure you in to buying things you don’t need. One year, I was researching albums. Another year it was canvases and a lens. This year I’m considering looking at backdrops again. Just know before you go, and stick to that list.
- Study the map – I normally walk through tradeshows from one side to the other, but I make a point to study the map the night before so I can circle the vendors I absolutely must check out – that way, I don’t miss anyone.
- Hunt for the sales – Most vendors are all offering things at special prices. If you’re looking for an item that you can get from multiple vendors, look for the best deal.
- Three Day Plan – Day 1, I walk around, pick up samples, find out about sales, get brochures. I make a point to buy nothing on day 1. Day 2, after I’ve done further research the night before, I get any additional information I might need, visit vendors I missed the first day, and make my final plans. I only buy if a vendor is almost out of stock and I am sure I want an item. Day 3, buy day – I pick up what I need, and then figure out how I am getting it all back to the hotel if it is bulky and hard to carry.
- Have a plan to get it home – shipping things home can be expensive, and that great sale isn’t so great anymore. Make sure you have a way to get the items back home with you! Make sure there is room in your carry-on bag for any camera gear you plan to buy.
I hope that helps you have an amazing Imaging USA experience – look for me at the convention, and I can’t WAIT to meet you in person! See you SOON!
Amazing photography above by Jerry Knight, used under Creative Commons License. Thank you, Jerry!