A Showit 5 website by The Buffalo Collective. Featuring photography by Nicole Mason.


wppi 2013

Do I belong?
I’m a newbie, will I fit in?
Am I cool enough?
Will I make friends?
Do I have anything to offer?


These were the questions swirling around in my head when thinking about attending the largest photography conference, aka WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photographers International). And even as I picked up my official badge on the first day, I was still worried about being an outsider. But what I quickly learned was that I was letting myself focus on the wrong things.

Attending WPPI is not about being part of a popularity contest. It’s about learning, bettering my burgeoning photography business, and ultimately investing in myself. And boy did I learn. My inner photography nerd was happy talking composition, leading lines, lenses, aperture, and light sources. And hearing first-hand from some of the best photographers explaining their thought process behind beautiful images… I was definitely in heaven. Who knew I’d find heaven in Vegas?!

Once I let my guard down & told myself that I belonged at WPPI just as much as anyone else, I opened myself up for more than I had ever imagined. I made some new friends, put faces to Facebook names, and became closer to some of my bay area photographer friends. I even allowed myself to get emotional in class (more than once) while listening to the stories behind the artwork. After all, photography is not just imagery… It is someone’s story/history. And because a Vegas trip wouldn’t be complete without sequins and bright lipstick, I even dressed up and had some fun. Photographers sure do know how to party.

But the most important thing I learned from WPPI is to focus on myself and my artwork. As a photographer, I’m obsessed with imagery and appreciating this art form, and my google reader is filled with photography blogs. And while it’s ok to appreciate others’ work, I can’t focus on comparing myself to anyone else. My history and the way I see the world is uniquely my own. I bring my uniqueness to each and every image I create. And during those times when I need support, I have so many people pushing me and reminding me not to give up because tomorrow isn’t promised. As Justin & Mary stated in their class, “the biggest lie we tell ourselves is that we have more time.”

While I didn’t take many photos on my Nikon DSLR, I took plenty of photos on my second favorite camera, my iPhone. All images were developed using my favorite app, vscocam, and shared via Instagram.  If you’re not following me already, find me at @cisforcristal.

cristal veronica



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