The Photo Plus Expo in NYC!

If you followed my Facebook page in October, you may remember that I traveled to NYC (and got out right before the hurricane, oof!). I attended the Photo Plus Expo, an expo and conference relating to all things photography and one of the largest of its kind. It was a wonderful escape from daily routine and a great immersion into the industry. If you’ve ever considered attending a conference or are on the fence about it, I highly recommend it. It’s highly educational, exciting, inspiring and downright fun.


This year’s Photo Plus Expo was attended by some of the greatest photographers of our industry and my personal heroes, such as Sue Bryce, Bambi Cantrell and Jason Groupp. I attended quite a few seminars on a variety of topics and have had a few friends ask what they were about, so below is a summary – the Coles notes – of each of the sessions.

(Just a quick note: if you followed my page you may also remember that my lens broke on the first day of the conference so I was without a camera :( Therefore all the photos in these posts are iPhone photos and not of the best quality. Apologies!)

Rebecca Crumley (The Knot Magazine) – Getting Published and Thinking like an Editor: This was the 101 on getting published in The Knot magazine, and an idea on how editors think when selecting images and submissions for publication. Rebecca took us through the magazine’s thought process, explained that they look for fresh, original ideas and weddings that make you wish you had been there. The editors look for varying colour schemes, non-traditional elements, new venues and ethnic diversity. She mentioned that the editors will sometimes search for new content on blogs and recommended tagging images and posts on your blog with metadata.

Jason Groupp – Guerrilla Lighting for the Modern Photographer: I was beyond excited for this session by NYC-based photographer Jason Groupp and it did not disappoint. Jason is fun and inspiring and his photography is incredible. He took us through all his lighting techniques, which have hilarious names, such as the Statue of Liberty where you stand with a light in one hand, à-la Statue of Liberty. Jason sells dvds with all his lighting ideas and tips if you are interested in learning more. The main message Jason spread is that being able to set up a shot quickly is more valuable to a client than how technically perfect it is. As he said, “I want to do it as quickly and as ghetto as possible.” Golden words.

Bambi Cantrell – Focus on Fabulous Weddings: Bambi Cantrell is a fireball. She spoke non-stop with an energy where you just could not stop listening. Her main focus was posing to flatter clients – turning any bigger body parts away from the camera to make them seem smaller, telling clients to hug with their cheeks to get a more intimate look, shooting from a higher camera position. Like Jason Groupp, she emphasized the importance of being quick with shots, especially formals. Clients will appreciate it.

Dennis Reggie – Get Real – a Case for Authenticity in Wedding Photography: I was really looking forward to this session. I was excited to hear some ideas on staying with the emotional aspect of weddings and not focusing too much on details and superficial aspects. Unfortunately this was the worst session I attended at the conference. Reggie spent the first hour talking about changes that have been taking place in the photography industry in a mocking tone – how it has gone from male-dominated to female-dominated, how photography has been devaluated, how uneducated photographers who use Pinterest shoot uneducated clients. He boasted about how much money he makes per wedding and how he shoots the Kennedys and flies first class, all the while not once giving a concrete idea on how to focus on authenticity (unless you count “catching candid moments”) . He alienated me within 5 minutes of the session, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that felt this way. The session was a huge disappointment and waste of time and money.

Art Streiber – The Big Picture: Art Streiber is the photographer behind so many well-known images, it’s insane. Remember the 25th anniversary photo of the Princess Bride? Or this crazy large photo commemorating Paramount’s 100th anniversary? All him. With an impressive portfolio, a great sense of humour and ability to engage when he speaks, Art Streiber’s session became one of my favorites. He took us through the process of capturing the iconic images he has created and gave tips along the way on how to deal with shooting important subjects for important clients. “Editorial photography is the perfect mix of preparation and flexibility,” he explained while telling stories of 12 hours of waiting for a subject, only to have a few minutes to shoot them. If you ever have a chance to hear Art speak, take it.

Art Streiber speaking about his 25th anniversary of the Princess Bride shot:

Art Streiber

And the best for last:

Sue Bryce – Starting a Portraiture Business from the Ground Up: Sue Bryce is my biggest hero. Her photography, her personality, her ability to inspire is beyond amazing. Sue took us through her story in her session, telling us about how she started in a style of photography that was not popular and made it her own and very successful. She went from working from her garage and cold calling potential clients to being Australian portrait photographer of the year in 2011. One really interesting thing she mentioned was her formula for a successful blog: the content should be 40% knowledge, 40% positive opinion, 10% personality and 10% self promotion. She also recommended creating video content of yourself in action, or even a slideshow of images – anything to show action. If you would like to hear more from Sue (highly recommended!), check out her blog and her Creative Live courses. (Admission time: I have watched the intro to her Creative Live course about 10 times now, whenever I need motivation or hope – it’s like medicine. I just LOVE her.)

Attendees mobbing Sue Bryce after her session:

Sue Bryce

There it is, the summary of this year’s seminars I attended at Photo Plus Expo. Let me know if you have any questions or comments, or would like to know more, by leaving a comment below!

I leave you with some more iPhone images of the conference and pre-Sandy NYC. Until tomorrow!






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