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Posts Tagged ‘Doug Gordon

Virtual Trade Shows: Education, Networking & More At Your Own Computer

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By Diane Berkenfeld

Last week I went to a trade show. And I didn’t even bother to get out of my pajamas. Ok… I did get dressed, but I could have stayed in my P.J.s with bed head and no makeup, and no one would have been the wiser.

How you ask? I attended the Focus on Wedding and Portrait Photography virtual trade show organized by PDN magazine (www.pdnonline.com; www.photoplusexpo.com). The tradeshow was “live” May 24 and 25, but will be archived for the next two months.

On the left is a screengrab of one of the three exhibit halls, on the right is a screengrab of the lobby of the PDN Virtual Trade Show.

Just like normal trade shows in the physical world, this virtual show had a lobby, three exhibit halls and an auditorium where seminars were given. Just like actual trade shows, you could have your badge swiped to receive additional information. You could even put digital information (PDFs) in your exhibit bag, and download them later.

The Focus on Wedding and Portrait Photography virtual trade show focused on weddings and portraits. The range of seminars included those dedicated to posing and lighting, business and marketing, and Photoshop techniques.

I love the idea of a virtual trade show. While I enjoy attending actual trade shows because of the face-to-face networking and true interactivity of presentations, there is definitely a place for virtual events. Especially when you can’t get away from work or afford travel expenses. For a virtual event, just fill out the registration form and attend. What’s great about virtual events is that the seminars begin for each attendee when they enter the auditorium. For example, enter most of the seminars late at a virtual event, and you aren’t conspicuously searching for a seat and missing part of the presentation. When these virtual events are archived (this show is being archived for two months) you can take in all of the presentations at your leisure.

After many of the seminars at the Focus on Wedding and Portrait Photography event, there were live chats with the presenters. Just type your questions and the presenter types his/her response.

How popular are virtual events? They are being attended in increasing numbers and gaining in popularity, according to Champion Exposition Services. Seven out of 10 respondents in their ‘survey on the use and adoption of digital tools by the association market’ are actively producing or considering a future virtual event. And these associations aren’t replacing actual shows with virtual events but adding them into their marketing mix.

I found the more interactive booths where video launched automatically, were the more interesting ones over those that only had PDF files that you’d download and read later.

On the left is a screengrab of Doug Gordon's exhibitor booth, on the right is a screengrab of the video that automatically launches when you visit the booth. This was one of the more interactive booths of the virtual trade show.

You could even connect with fellow attendees, via email or chat.

For the most part, the attendees, exhibitors and presenters I spoke with came away a positive experience from PDN‘s virtual trade show. One benefit for exhibitors: a virtual event replaces hours or even days of booth set up and tear down with mere minutes of work. Exhibitors noted they were able to connect with new customers, presenters enjoyed the experience, and attendees liked the concept and experience.

Pet photographer Margaret Bryant (www.bryantdogphotography.com) attended this event as well as a previous PDN virtual trade show. Although she didn’t use the chat feature, she did like that attendees were given the opportunity to chat with presenters and exhibitors. “I think [a virtual show] is probably more valuable for those who can’t attend a physical trade show. To me, it is in addition to a physical trade show, not a substitution. I’m a tactile person so I like to touch merchandise at the trade show. I also like the face-to-face contact. But I do think there is a place for virtual trade shows,” Bryant says.

This virtual show was the first attended by photographer Stephanie Natale, (www.natalephotography.com). Natale ‘walked the trade show’ and even signed up with one of the exhibitors. “I think it is a great idea,” she says, adding, “I’d attend another one for sure.”

Darla Achey, marketing communications specialist, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics, (www.mitsubishi-imaging.com) said this was her first virtual trade show. Mitsubishi was an exhibitor and seminar sponsor. “I love the concept,” she says. In addition to new leads, Achey explains, “This was a great opportunity, that was cost effective, and helped us build brand recognition for our photo products.” She adds, “It’s a great way to reach people who might not otherwise be able to get away for a trade show.”

The PDN virtual event was also the first such experience for photographer and presenter Judy Host (www.judyhost.com). She feels the concept has worldwide appeal. “I would love to participate again. There is something to be said about having your program pre-recorded and being able to respond to questions via email afterwards. I don’t think it will ever replace a “real experience” but it sure does give access to those who wouldn’t normally have it.” Host sees virtual events as a great educational tool. “There are so many people out there that want the education that we provide and just can’t afford to travel and/or give up their time. This brings the training into their homes and makes it convenient for them to learn. As an educator, it just doesn’t get any better than that,” she adds.

So the next time an invitation to a virtual trade show lands in your e-mail inbox, why not attend. You won’t have to travel further than your own computer—and you just might learn something new!

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Overheard at WPPI 2010…

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By Diane Berkenfeld

The WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Professionals International) 2010 (www.wppionline.com) conference and tradeshow celebrated its 30th year by once again attaining record-breaking attendance numbers and a sold out tradeshow. In addition to the hundred plus programs, 300+ exhibitors—thousands of attendees made the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino their home away from home from March 4 through 11. WPPI Plus classes began on March 4, platform programs began on March 7 and the tradeshow ran March 8-10, with the conference ending on March 11.

Program topics ran the gamut from business, marketing, Photoshop and digital workflow, lighting/posing, and Social Media. In addition to the programs run by WPPI, a number of the exhibitors held hour-long programs at their booths. These included Miller’s Lab, Kodak, Nikon, Canon, Sony, and many others—large and small. No matter where you turned, you were likely to learn something new.

With all of the programs to choose from, the more popular had lines of attendees waiting for the doors to open. A few of the presenters were given encore dates/times and asked to re-present their programs because there were so many folks who had to be turned away when the rooms hit capacity.

What’s Said in Vegas, Doesn’t Stay in Vegas…

I thought I’d share some of what I overheard while attending programs and lectures at exhibitor booths on the tradeshow floor.

  • While in an elevator, admiring a shirt that read, “Film is not dead” I was told that all of the images on display at the Fujifilm booth were captured on film. A few days later I finally had the opportunity to check out these gorgeous, vibrant images and was not disappointed.
  • At the Miller’s Lab booth, TriCoast Photography’s (www.tricoastphoto.com) Mike Fulton and Cody Clinton gave a presentation on one of the specialties they’re know for, Wireless TTL flash photography: Use your TTL flash for creative lighting. By setting the zoom on the flash more telephoto than your field of view, you’re in effect creating a focused, light that looks as if you’re using a snoot.
  • Attending another talk at the Miller’s Lab booth, this one given by educator and web expert, Gloria Antonelli (http://gloriaantonelli.com):
    • “Your website or blog is your home, and your Facebook/Twitter etc. accounts represent your vacation home.” —Gary Vaynerchuk
    • And… Web 2.0 requires a regular workload in addition to the offline work you do in your business. Social media is a two way street. Communicate with your audience and community. Be a friend, and others will want to be your friend in return. If you’re too pushy, you’ll turn your followers off.
  • Doug Gordon begins his program with everyone singing and dancing to YMCA. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld

    Attending Doug Gordon’s (www.patkenphotographer.com) program ‘Posing is Back and it is the New Black,’ the reason brides don’t want posed photographs is that they think it takes too long. Not true when you have a system. In the course of the two-hour talk, Doug was able to show attendees two hundred different poses for the bride and groom. His is a style of posed photojournalism. Yes, he takes the time to light and pose correctly, but he also finds the energy and passion in the moment and brings that out in his images.

  • During the Canon sponsored Keynote, speaker Gregory Heisler (www.gregoryheisler.com) explained his philosophy behind taking pictures.
    • He’ll always put himself in the position he’s going to ask his subject to take, because its important to him to know how they will feel while being photographed. He also explained that he’d never photograph someone in a way he himself wouldn’t want to be photographed in.
    • And, even though he has finally migrated to 35mm DSLRs, Gregory still uses a cable release, because it gives him the ability to have a face to face conversation with his subject while taking pictures—which stems from when his experience shooting with large format view cameras that required this type of shooting.
  • Vicki Taufer’s (www.vgallery.net and www.vgalleryhaven.com) program, ‘Unleashed,’ was all about her studio’s pet photography. One of the most important things she said was, “People are paying not only for photographs but for the experience.” Other photographers made the same statement, pointing out how your personality and the way you treat your clients is just as important as your photography skills. You are selling the experience of your photography, not just the images on pieces of paper.
  • JB and DeEtte Sallee (www.salleephotography.com), speaking at the Kodak booth, talked about the importance of adding a “whopper” package to your line. While you may never sell this one, the next highest one won’t seem as high in comparison.
  • In their presentation, ‘Creating Loyalty Beyond Reason’ first time WPPI speakers Justin and Mary Marantz (www.justinmarantz.com) mentioned some great business books:
  • Kay Eskridge’s (www.imagesbykay.com and www.celebratesexy.com) program on boudoir photography was one of the more popular topics, with WPPI attendees lining up early to make sure they would get a seat.
    • Kay, like many of the other program presenters uses royalty free music from Triple Scoop Music. “If you’re complaining about people copying your images and you’re not using royalty free music, you’re doing the same thing,” she said.
    • It is imperative for male photographers to have a female associate/assistant present at all times during boudoir shoots. She suggested guys should also ask their clients to have a female friend at the shoot as well.
    • And, backgrounds and props don’t always have to cost a lot of money. Kay showed how she has created backgrounds from wall panels found at Lowes, shower curtains and satin sheets from Bed Bath & Beyond, and doors and shutters painted in hot colors from Home Depot. Oh, and if you’re going to buy and use satin sheets—use flat not fitted sheets, and use a steamer to get out wrinkles.
  • Lori Nordstrom (www.nordstromphoto.com) presented a business program that was filled with inspiration—for the photographer [read: artist] to understand that their studio is a business and needs to be run that way to be profitable. Some of what Lori discussed:
    • Ask for referrals, and for each one, give your current clients a small gift.
    • Be charitable, its good for you and your business.
    • You may have to handhold clients to help them, but they’ll appreciate this customer service—and the experience you provide.

Photographer Jules Bianchi (r.) is interviewed at the Pictage booth. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld

Photographer Huy Nguyen (r.) of F8 Studios speaks at the ProDPI booth. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld

There were a number of first time exhibitors at the tradeshow, as well as established companies showing brand new products and services, which is exciting, as it shows the growth in the industry.

Look for the wrap-up article of great new products and services to be posted on picture-soup.com soon.