Your Guide to a Successful #WPPI2017

January 14, 2017

This year marks my 4th trip to WPPI and over the last 17 years I have traveled to Vegas over 20 times. I wanted to share some tips for not only having a great time at WPPI but also a few tips that I have learned along the way for having an awesome time while visiting the city of sin!

WPPI – Get ready for Las Vegas! from Triple Scoop Music on Vimeo.

Getting around town


Uber recently arrived in Las Vegas and it is a great way to get around while you are there. Uber is super easy to use, simply download the app (IOS, Android), create an account, and request a ride. Once Uber is linked to your account you never have to worry about cash or worrying if the cab takes credit card. If you are planning ahead and want to know how much the ride will cost, check out this website to estimate the fare. If you don’t have an account yet I would love it if you used this code to sign up. https://www.uber.com/invite/tjh101


There are 4 different monorails in Las Vegas. All but one of them are free to travel between hotels. If you are exploring the strip and need a break the monorails are a great alternative to walking. The monorails can sometimes be difficult to find because they are at the back of the hotels. Keep an eye on the signs above and you will find your way no problem!

Free Monorails

  • Mirage-Treasure Island Tram 
    The Mirage-Treasure Island tram runs between 7 a.m. – 2 a.m., daily. The tram arrives just about every 15 minutes and the ride lasts about four minutes.
  • Bellagio – CityCenter – Monte Carlo Tram
    The Bellagio – CityCenter – Monte Carlo tram runs daily from 8 a.m. – 4 a.m., every seven minutes. The tram arrives just about every 15 minutes and the ride lasts about six minutes.
  • Mandalay Bay-Excalibur Tram
    This monorail’s route varies based on what hotel you start at. If you start at the Excalibur main station, the monorail will take you directly to Mandalay Bay – about a 3-minutes trip. If you start from Mandalay Bay, you will stop at the Luxor and then the Excalibur – about a 7-minutes trip. The express tram runs daily from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and trains leave every 3-7 minutes. The all-stops tram runs from 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Paid Monorail

The Las Vegas Monorail runs from the MGM to SLS Las Vegas (north end of the strip).

The monorail has 7 stations along the strip:

  • MGM Grand
  • Bally’s / Paris
  • Flamingo, Harrah’s / The LINQ
  • Las Vegas Convention Center
  • Westgate Las Vegas
  • SLS Las Vegas

The monorail is open Monday, 7 a.m. – midnight; Tuesday – Thursday, 7 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Friday – Sunday, 7 a.m. – 3 a.m.

You can get discounted tickets before you go by clicking here or stop at the kiosks at each of the stations.

If you play the free myVegas slots app (IOS, Android) you can use your points to purchase monorail tickets!


Public Transit

Las Vegas has a great public transportation system that has several stops along the way. For information on stops and routes, check out the RTC website.


One thing that you learn when visiting Vegas is even though things look really close they are very far away. That being said everything on the strip is easy to get to and many of the hotels offer overhead walkways so you don’t have to cross the busy streets. Also the The Convention Center is huge so gve yourself plenty of time to get from your room to the conference area and expo areas.


Las Vegas is the mecca for foodies. From food courts to five star Las Vegas offers all different types of cuisine.

Here are some great resturants that offer coupons on resturant.com you can find them here  http://www.restaurant.com/city-cuisine/LasVegas-restaurants

My favorite place to get breakfast in Vegas is Ellis Island Brewery. Ellis island offers a full menu but the highlight is the $6.99 steak and eggs. For under $10 you get a nice sized steak, eggs, hash browns, and toast. Ellis Island isn’t to far from the MGM.

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If you show your badge at Ellis Island they will hook you up with one of their award winning beers for free!


I am a huge fan of saving money so here are a few coupons to save you some cash while visiting Las Vegas!


Must see Vegas Attractions

Free Attractions (From Vegas.com)

Check out great Vegas deals ahead of time online, and explore more for less!
  • BELLAGIO CONSERVATORY Crafted by a team of 100 horticulturalists, the Bellagio’s conservatory features elegant, elaborate arrangements of plants and flowers in its bright, airy atrium.
  • FALL OF ATLANTIS AT CAESARS No civilization put on a greater spectacle than ancient Rome, and now you have a chance to witness the glory for yourself at Caesars Palace’s Fall of Atlantis.
  • FOUNTAINS OF BELLAGIO Every evening, a water and music show plays again and again in the spectacular fountains filling the quarter-mile-long lake in front of the Bellagio.
  • FREMONT STREET EXPERIENCE The Fremont Street Experience will have you dancing in the street with its $70 million light canopy and 540,000-watt sound system.
  • PALAZZO WATERFALL ATRIUM Connecting the Palazzo and Venetian is two-story tall atrium with a waterfall and seasonal floral display – the perfect spot to pull out your cell phone and snap a selfie.
  • VOLCANO AT THE MIRAGE Every hour after dusk, the Mirage volcano explodes forth for crowds of curious Strip onlookers.
  • WELCOME TO LAS VEGAS SIGN Guests can park their cars right next to Las Vegas’ 50-year-old iconic sign and take plenty of memorable photos.
  • WILDLIFE HABITAT AT THE FLAMINGO The Flamingo’s brilliant neon sign is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable on the Strip. And visitors can take a closer look at the creatures who inspired the bright display at the hotel-casino’s very own wildlife habitat.

There are a ton of awesome entertainment in Las Vegas. Before you purchase your ticket make sure you stop by the Half Price Show Tickets stores a long the strip to find additional savings!


Conference Tips

Tip 1: Understand what type of class you are attending,

According to WPPI’s Website here are the different types of classes available

    A Platform Class is a 1 1/2 -hour, theatre-style session that prepares you for everything from becoming a better photographer to running a more successful and profitable business, and beyond. Seven learning tracks include Lighting, Wedding, Portrait, Inspirational, Business, Workflow and Filmmaking. Your Full Platform Pass gives you access to over 80 Platform classes.
  • Pre-board – No Longer Available
    A PLUS Class is a one-day, intimate and intensive learning experience. Limited to 25 participants per class, you’ll experience classroom learning through a 2-3 hour presentation by one of our world-class photography instructors followed by hands-on training through an afternoon of shooting on location. Plus Class tracks will include off camera lighting, posing techniques, workflow and more. TIP: Register early, Plus Classes will sell out quickly. May be purchased as an add-on item.
    A Master Class is a focused two-hour, hands-on session limited to 50 participants that provides a detailed learning experience. Master Class tracks cover a wide variety of vital photography and filmmaking topics including Lighting, Wedding, Portrait, Inspirational, Business, Workflow and Filmmaking.  TIP: Register early, Master Classes sell out quickly. May be purchased as an add-on item.
    Photo Walks are exclusive 1 1/2 -hour, hands-on shootouts limited to 25 people each that focus on teaching the participants to sharpen their observation and composition skills while shooting alongside an industry leader. Each Photo Walk will demonstrate the leader’s unique skill set, including everything from off camera lighting, posing, gear and lens selection and much, much more. May be purchased as an add-on item. Find out more about each individual Photo Walk by joining our Facebook group where each leader will discuss their class and answer questions. Join us here:https://www.facebook.com/groups/868345773177706/
    Learn by doing in our fourth-annual, hands-on Filmmaking class. Be part of the crew that writes, shoots and edits the official WPPI film. Over the course of several days, you’ll work on a team to capture, direct and produce the essence of WPPI. Don’t wait to register, spots will fill up fast.

My biggest takeaways from the past WPPI’s have been the relationships I have built. I challenge you to meet 5 people. Each and every year I have set this as my goal and I have made some great friends that I can’t wait to meetup with in a few short weeks. I can be one of your 5! Please shoot me a tweet so we can meetup! @tjhouston

Tip 2: Don’t get sucked into the Expo.

The first time you go to WPPI and walk into the exhibit hall, you will be overwhelmed.  The exhibitors offer everything you could ever need for your business. I suggesting making a plan of what your needs are and then schedule time to visit the vendors!

  • Monday, March 7 – 10:00am-4:00pm
  • Tuesday, March 8 – 10:00am-4:00pm
  • Wednesday, March 9 – 10:00am-3:00pm

Click here to download a copy of the floor plan of all of the exhibitors.

Tip 3: Backchannel

Social media is the life blood behind the conference. I urge you to monitor and use the hashtags to follow conversation and meetup with people to build relationships! #wppi2017

Tip 4: Spend some time watching print competition.

This year at our state conference I spent time listening to print competition and I learned more then any of the sessions that I went to. Watching print competition helped me to understand more about light, shadows as well as composition. Another great thing about print comp is all of the inspiration that you can draw from other artists.

Over 3000 entries are judged in 8 rooms by over 40 judges over two incredible days. Full Platform Pass holders will have the opportunity to watch entries get evaluated while hearing feedback from judges. Learn what judges find to be a winning image as well as hear constructive critiques in what has been coined a tremendous learning experience. A Full Platform Pass is required to attend. Located at the LVCC in rooms N219, N220, N221, N222, N223, N225, N227, N229

Tip 5: Check out the special events!


Morning Keynote – Jacqueline Tobin & Jason Groupp: Rf’s 30 Rising Stars Panel: Monday, Feb. 6, 8:30-10am

Rangefinder Editor-in-Chief Jacqueline Tobin moderates a panel on how some past and present Rf 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography get inspired to create work that not only gets them hired by brides and grooms, but also wins competitions and receives accolades from industry leaders and peers alike. A Full Platform Pass is required to attend. Sponsored by Richard Photo Lab and ShootProof

Launch Pad: Monday, Feb. 6, 4-6pm

Get an exclusive look at innovative products and software solutions from dozens of WPPI exhibitors before the Expo officially opens. Mix and mingle in this social setting. It’s an opportunity to network with the media and photography colleagues to make new contacts, develop relationships, get one-on-one advice and explore opportunities. Free for all registered attendees. Located at the LVCC in N249-N251.

4th Annual WPPI Fun Run: Tuesday, Feb. 7, 6:30am

Time to take care of the mind and body while at WPPI! Join the Movement by participating in the WPPI Fun Run where not only do you get in a little exercise, you get to see the Vegas Strip before the crowds take up the sidewalks. All proceeds go to Tamara and Steve Lackey’s charity, Beautiful Together. Westgate Hotel Main Lobby Area. Free for all registered attendees.

Morning Keynote – Greatest Hits with Jerry Ghionis: Tuesday, Feb. 7, 8:30-10am

Jerry Ghionis presents the show-opening keynote seminar with a “greatest hits” collection of his best and most valuable takeaways over the past 14 years of WPPI. A Full Platform Pass is required to attend. Sponsored by Nikon

The F-Stop Lounge @ The Westgate: Feb. 7-9

The F-Stop lounge is a place to chill after the show. Come join the WPPI tribe to relax and review the events of the day. There will be a DJ, cash bar, charging stations, and lots of fun games. Westgate Pavilion 2 & 3: Tues.-Wed., Feb. 7-8, 4:30-7:30pm; Thurs., Feb. 9, 3:30-6:30pm. Free for all registered attendees.

WPPI After Hours: Feb. 6-9

Join us every night of the expo as WPPI goes out “after hours” at Las Vegas nightclubs. Attendees receive complimentary access by showing their WPPI badge. Monday, Feb. 6: Jewel at Aria – Expedited entry line until 1 am; Tuesday, Feb. 7: OMNIA at Caesars – Comp drink ticket until 12am. Expedited entry line until 1 am; Wednesday, Feb. 8: 1OAK at Mirage – Expedited entry line until 1 am; Thursday, Feb. 9: Hakkasan at MGM – Comp drink ticket until 12am. Expedited entry line until 1 am.

Morning Keynote – Sue Bryce, When Am I Good Enough to Get PAID?: Wednesday, Feb. 8, 8:30-10am

Bryce walks you through why your path to ownership and success are marred by your self-imposed limits and the inside fear voice to unleash what you truly want. A Full Platform Pass is required to attend. Sponsored by Canon

Morning Keynote – Me Ra Koh, To Stretch but Not Break: A Candid Look at the Ups and Downs of Building Your Photography Dream: Thursday, Feb. 9, 8:30-10am

Me Ra Koh, Sony Artisan and Disney host, offers a candid, inspiring and transparent keynote about allowing our creative spirits to be stretched but not broken. A Full Platform Pass is required to attend. Sponsored by Sony

University for School and Sports Photography: Thursday, Feb. 9

Organized by PSPI (Professional School & Sports Photographers International), the University for School and Sports Photography is a one-day educational program geared for those who are interested in volume school and sports photography. Learn more. Must be purchased as an add-on; see our attendee page for pricing. Platinum Sponsors: Zenfolio, Sony | Sponsors: PSPI, Richmond Professional Lab, Miller’s Professional Imaging, Bay Photo Lab

Honors of Excellence Award Ceremony: Thursday, Feb. 9, 8-11pm

The WPPI Honors of Excellence Awards ceremony is the most prestigious event of WPPI for wedding and portrait photographers. Join us for an “Oscar-worthy” evening of entertainment celebrating ALL the winners from The 16×20 Print, Album and Filmmaking Competition as well as our everyone who participated in WPPI’s members-only 1st and 2nd Half Competitions! A Full Platform Pass is required to attend. Located at the LVCC in N109-N114.Sponsored by Sony


If you need anything while at the show please tweet me at @tjshotsphoto! I would love to meet up!