I’m heading to Las Vegas this week for the WPPI conference, and I’m pretty excited. I’ve been attending conferences and workshops since before I even owned a camera, and words can’t express how important these are to learning to make yourself a better portraitist. The value in these is not only learning from the master but also learning with others.

Find a Master

As far as I’m concerned, a master is anyone who can do something better than me, and there are loads of those in photography. You should take every chance you can to watch others shoot, and whenever possible step in as an assistant. When you assist you have the chance to see exactly where the lighting tools and where the photographer stands in relation to the subjects. These are invaluable lessons.

I’ve heard photographers complain that they attended a workshop and came away without great pictures. The best picture you can make at a conference is a behind-the-scenes shot showing where the photographer is and the subject and the lights. Copying the master’s photo during the class is useless, but copying their setup after the class on your own is the best way to grow and develop your own style.

Find a Friend

A week before my camera arrived in the mail, I attended David Ziser’s class and met a guy who drove 5 hours to attend the same class. We hit it off and over the last nine years have collaborated on several shoots. I ran into him in a store the other day and it was better than a class reunion. When you attend workshops you’ll find people like yourself with whom you can practice and assist and develop your skills together.


When I go to Las Vegas for conferences, I’m most excited to see my best friends, but I’m also revved up to learn new skills from master portraitists. You’ll also find that in this industry, the masters are happiest when they can act like friends, too, and I’m honored to call so many of my earliest mentors “friend”.

Portrait Tips come out each week, and you can see them all right here.

Free passes to WPPI expo

If you are coming to Las Vegas for WPPI February 26th through the 28th, 2018 click this link for free passes to the expo from Skylum.

Expo Hours

  • Monday, February 26, 2018: 10am-4pm
  • Tuesday, February 27, 2018: 10am-4pm
  • Wednesday, February 28, 2018: 10am-3pm