I’ve just returned from Nashville and the 2010 session of PPA’s Imaging USA… I’m feeling a strange combination of excitement and exhaustion. It was a high-intensity experience! Over the years, I’ve attended countless trade shows and conventions and I can say without a doubt this was the most rewarding, productive convention I’ve been to. Kudos to PPA for putting on a really great event!

Over the past year or so I’ve been hearing of the notable decline of trade shows across the board – smaller venues, fewer people, lots of compaies pulling out and not having booths due to falling cost/benefit ratios. In this way, Imaging USA 2010 was remarkable… several PPA folks told me they were surprised (and overjoyed) by the attendance, for which I heard estimates between 10 and 12 thousand people! In a “down economy” that speaks volumes.

What I saw at the show was a very determined effort by photographers and suppliers to push their businesses forward this year. The folks at the corporate booths were thrilled at the frenzy of activity surrounding their products, and the photographers were intently interested in both the products and the fantastic educational offerings.

On the trade show floor, dominated by print labs and camera accessory vendors, the activity was inspiring. WHCC (White House Custom Colour) had a constant stream of visitors, as did the booths for Canon, NIK Software and many others. The people in the booths kept the level of interest high with ongoing demos and presentations and people were just eating it up!

One of the more interesting presentations I saw was about shooting high-def video with the Canon 5D Mark II. I’m looking forward to doing travel video on my trips this year. Steven Inglima, a really nice guy who runs Canon’s Explorers of Light program, spent some time with me, explaining how their training programs operate. He’s put together a top notch roster of photographers who speak around the country giving demos and presentations featuring Canon’s photography solutions.

I also spent some time at the Luma Vue Arts booth, talking to Steve Knudsen, the inventor and owner of the company. These lightboxes are beautiful, and I’ll soon be offering my prints in ready-to-hang lightboxes. On the more “traditional” print side, I saw samples of the beautiful new paper from Canson called Baryta Photographique. I looked at the latest printer offerings from Epson and Canon and was really impressed with both. I’m considering buying a new printer this year, and it’s going to be a tough call, but at this point I think I’m still leaning toward the Epson 9900.

I also had a chance to see the annual PPA Print Competition display which was really impressive. I’ll be entering some prints into the Colorado competition this year.

If you regularly present your work as slideshows, you should check out Animoto. It’s a new web-based service that allows you to upload your image files and then create high-def videos from them, complete with gorgeous transitions and pro music tracks. The videos can be downloaded, are unencrypted, and can be used any way you like.

The convention also featured a full schedule of seminars, of which I attended 4 or 5. I saw a great lighting presentation by Tony Korbell, and a very informative talk from Roy Hsu about stock and commercial assignment photography. I caught the last half of a seminar by Denver’s own Sandy Puc’, a renowned portrait artist and excellent speaker, about marketing and product sales in the portrait world. Very interesting.

I had a chance to sit and chat with Adobe’s Tom Hogarty, the Lightroom Product Manager. We discussed the upcoming release of Lightroom 3, my new book, and the training market in general. Tom’s a great guy and I look forward to working more closely with him over the coming year in helping more photographers master Lightroom. There was strong interest in Lightroom throughout the convention.

I also got to hang out with Rob Sylvan, the author of Lightroom 2 for Dummies, also published by my author, Wiley, and the technical editor for his book, Steve Holmes. Both really great guys and experts at what they do.

One of the developments I’m most excited about for the coming year is my newly forged relationship with the local chapter of PPA, called PPC or Professional Photographers of Colorado. I had some very lively and productive  conversations will Jill Bailey, PPC’s president, about all kinds of new education offerings we’re going to be partnering on. I will be presenting a digital workflow program for PPA in February, from which we’re going to start spinning off more training events, many open to the general public. Stay tuned!

My time in Nashville was time very well spent. This is the second Imaging USA I’ve been to; the first was in Tampa several years ago and was also excellent. Although PPA and Imaging USA is mainly geared toward portrait and wedding photographers, and I do travel photography, usually outdoors using natural light, I’ve found these conventions to be very worthwhile. If you haven’t been to one yet, I’d recommend you start making plans for Imaging USA 2011 in San Antonio. I’ll be there and hope to see you there too!

About PPA: Professional Photographers of America (PPA) is the world’s largest nonprofit association for professional photographers, with more than 20,000 members in 54 countries. This association seeks to increase its members’ business savvy as well as broaden their creative scope, advancing careers by providing all the tools for success…as they have since 1880. For more info visit www.PPA.com

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