If anyone made any sort of attempt to contact me last week, it was one of the few times of year that I am pretty much off the grid. And my apologies. But once a year, myself and another 20,000 or so wedding & portrait photographers from all over the world convene at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for the annual convention and tradeshow and well, big huge party that is WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photographers International). This was my 10th year in a row attending this particular event. And while that partially just makes me feel just a little bit old, I’d rather say that it allows me to call myself experienced instead…so we’ll run with that.

Aside from the seminars and trade show, to be honest my favorite part of WPPI is always seeing my friends. Imagine being more or less isolated from your co-workers and peers for 95% of the year. When you finally see one another, there is so much catching up to do…and with friends from all over the world. What has also been really fascinating to see over the last several years is the way that social media has affected those friendships and offered a new avenue to building new ones. I can’t even count how many people I met last week whom I had previously considered “Twitter friends” who then became “IRL (in real life) friends” after some chance meeting in passing or over a cocktail at Rouge or sushi at Shibuya. The real challenge is to actually recognize someone from their online avatar…since, in which (and let’s be honest)…we all look about 5 years younger and 10 pounds lighter than we actually are in real life. But hey, what’s the point in having so many talented friends if you can’t find one person to make you look far better in a photograph than you actually do in real life? :)

The final night of WPPI always wraps with awards night in which a handful of photographers are rewarded for their efforts in that year’s 16×20 print & album competitions. This year I was thrilled and surprised to find myself with a 3rd place trophy in the Bridal Party category for this portrait of Mike Livanos & his groomsmen which I shot in November at Union Station in Los Angeles.

Now way back when, I was one of those kids who probably would have been well pissed to receive a 3rd place anything. But I must say, that placing at all in this print competition is one of the greatest honors my industry has to offer and I was happy to add my trophy on the shelf next to the one I received in 2010 for bride and groom together.

Out of thousands of entry prints sent in from all over the world, only a few dozen prints are awarded with a top prize. So perhaps for now being at the bottom of the very top is something I’m quite pleased with. Until next year. After all, we photographers are fiercely competitive beings…and if there’s one thing my recently late father taught me was “good enough isn’t good enough”. Well that and “always be kind”. If I can manage to pursue those two valuable pieces of wisdom left to me, then I can say that I made him proud in business and in life.

9 Responses to “WPPI Award of Excellence”

  1. mary beth says:

    well deserved! you are a talented lady! and a super cool one too!

  2. Beautiful Justine! Congrats! I look exactly like my avatar by the way.

  3. Felicidades!!! Congrats!!!!!

    Hi, from sunny Puerto Rico!!!!


  4. Alyda says:

    So proud of you!! And so happy I got to spend a little time with you too :)

  5. Rob Greer says:

    It was an honor to be seated next to you when your name was announced in front of 1,000+ photographers–the best in our industry! So proud of you!!!

  6. Sara France says:

    So happy for you girl! You deserve it!

  7. gary says:

    As always I am so proud, honored, lucky, grateful and did I mention lucky to be your husband.

  8. margie says:

    Congratulations to my wonderful daughter-in-law. You are very special.

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