In February I went to the Wedding and Portrait Photographer International conference in Las Vegas.
I love going to Vegas. I had been there seems like a million times up to this point when I ran NetGrafx Internet Web Services, my web development and internet consulting company some years back. I love people-watching and now that I've been doing photography for a while I think it has honed my people-watching jones to a fine art... but I get the most fun out of looking at the interesting clothing people wear... alot of fashion "dos" and "don'ts".
I'm not Gods gift to fashion, by any sense. But I think I have developed a better sense of what looks right on camera, and this extends to when I'm not looking through a view finder. I saw the usual really-hot-blondes with micro-minis and high heels... I wasn't even out of the airport when I saw two or three girls that could have legitimately modeled. And maybe they were models. But it didn't take long checking into the MGM to see my share of other fun to watch people - like the cougar in the lobby wearing a total kath & kim collision of tight clothes, high heels, frosted hair, too much makeup and too much tan. And too much exposure... and not in a good way.
And it's not just the women, of course. I saw a few guys that were perfect looking, and quite a few that had a way to go (probably the category I was in for somebody else people watching). I try not to pretend too much at these events, and there were plenty of others "like me" who seemed just great natural people that would have been fun to just hang with.
I met alot of a good people. Went to a "cocktail" party one night sponsored by Nikon featuring the band Blues Traveler which plays kind of a party mix of funky zydeco I've never been able to put my finger on. But pre-gig at the reception I had a great time visiting with a couple from my old stomping ground in Ocean City Maryland... they own and run Atlantic Portrait Studio (if I'm not butchering the name of it too much) in North Ocean City. As we were talking family history (I'm from Maryland) - turns out we may have been distantly (with emphasis on the word "distant") related!! The odds were probably: not. But there were alot of similarities with last names up the family tree, family history and homes and neighborhoods in Baltimore, etc etc. I won't dwell on it further here, but it was a cool little reminder of how much you have in common with fellow man when you stop and take the time to get to know them.
Oh, this trip to LV was the first time I didn't step out of the hotel/casino once the whole 7 days I was there. They say the average visitor to LV walks 8 miles a day, a fact I painfully learned the hard way early on in my trips to LV. When you think you'll just walk up the strip to that next casino you always wanted to see... you realize sometime later: dang, my feet hurt! We got to see tigers, pirates, volcanos, romans, roller-coasters, whatever... but dang... I'm tired!! So: learn to take a cab or the train or whatever. Don't try to walk everywhere.
So this time, I knew that I had to pace myself and not go mental with the "going out". The MGM - where WPPI was held - is big enough. The business center is in the back next to what used to be an amusement park the MGM tried for a while which I think is long gone now. But the walk from the hotel/casino to the business conference center is by itself maybe, what, half-a-mile-but-seems-like-three. (maybe it was 3 miles!!!) (nah, not really). So I stayed "in" the hotel the whole time. Still seems weird to me, but I barely noticed it. Sessions I attended started at 8:00 am and I was ending up the night sometimes after 10:30 or 11:00 in terms of WPPI scheduled events... so I was whacked! Then there were scads of vendor parties in the middle of the night for the real hip and trendy, only a few of which I went to (surprised they let me in!), and most of them were insanely lame (outside of the Nikon/Blues Traveler thing which was open-bar and surprisingly "cool". Alot of the Nikon names were there, although I only saw Joe McNally, I know a few other hot shots were there). Here's a shot of Chandler Kinchla of Blues Traveler I took at the show...
So anyway, Vegas is, was, and will be. It's not for everybody, but I'm always surprised by the people that wear the "I-will-never-go-to-Las-Vegas" badge like it's some kind of pride point. Geez, there's so much fun stuff to do there even without the gambling part - why wouldn't you go?!? You don't like... fun? I never went there - even when working through the night stuffing handout materials like I used to do when I ran trade show booths at COMDEX - when I didn't have a good time. And I'm waaaay conservative when it comes to partying and "going out". But I always enjoy it there. Even took the family there a few years ago, met up with friends, cruised around to the Grand Canyon, Moab, back to Vegas... we had *a blast*. Went to the big tournament show in the Excaliber... had a great time.
Anyway, thats enough prattle about Vegas. For now anyway!