Louisville, KY—If you couldn’t attend the Imaging USA 2024 conference at the Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) in Louisville, Kentucky, you missed out on three days of education, inspiration as well as networking. We’ll give you an overview of this year’s premier photography conference, which was held January 28–30, 2024.
Photographers from near and far made the journey to attend a robust schedule of preconference classes that started on January 25 and kicked off the first day of the main show on January 28.
Preconference classes were offered in two categories: Deep Dive classes and Hands-On classes. The Deep Dive classes comprised three different Boudoir sessions as well as a School, Sports & Event session. In addition, five Hands-On Classes were presented. This allowed attendees to choose between lighting for fashion photography; product photography tips and tricks; long-exposure portraiture; family portraiture; as well as mastering off-camera flash photography for weddings.
Beyond the immersive classes, photographers connected and practiced their skills at the Networking Avenue on opening night. They then headed to the Derby-themed Welcome Party in the Omni Hotel. The entertainment for the night was the Blue Water King’s band. Plus, party attendees wore their finest derby grab, including those ever-popular hats.
PPA Cares: A Green Event
This year, PPA’s goal was to reduce waste as well as promote eco-conscious practices at the show. Even the venue reflected that. The KICC is a LEED Silver certified facility with LED lighting throughout, water-efficient plumbing fixtures as well as various eco-friendly features. Moreover, the KICC composted leftover food that couldn’t be donated and sourced locally produced products. The venue also provided numerous recycling stations and water bottle refill stations.
“In an effort to make a positive impact on our environment and promote sustainability, PPA is proud to introduce PPA Cares, an exciting new initiative aimed at reducing waste and promoting eco-conscious practices at Imaging USA 2024 and future shows,” the organization noted. The initiative was sponsored by Lockton Affinity.
Other PPA Cares initiatives included the proceeds from purchases of PPA-branded, reusable water bottles going to Louisville Grows, a local sustainable organization. In addition, one of the most significant changes was a commitment to sustainable signage. All printed conference signs were crafted using a recyclable material known as Eco-board.
The opening keynote, “Learn What It Means to Risk Forward with Victoria Labalme, took take place on Sunday, January 29 in Ballroom A. The keynote was followed by a book signing on the Expo floor.
Labalme’s keynote was moving, theatrical as well as humorous. The Hall of Fame speaker and Wall Street Journal best-selling author presented strategies to help advance attendees’ careers. Moreover, she uses skills developed through decades of performing arts experience and a results-driven approach to tackle business and art.
Additionally, Labalme believes the most successful companies, creative endeavors and individuals are those who have the courage to go beyond what’s been done before. By elevating one’s ability to communicate, connect and come alive, she believes entrepreneurs can win over the people they serve.
International Photographic Competition
What’s more, the International Photographic Competition (IPC), sponsored by Sony, won praise from show attendees. The IPC is a live-judged bracket-style image competition that encompassed 16 image categories competing in head-to-head judging rounds. An engaging emcee offered live commentary on the panel of judges’ decision-making process and images were shown on-screen.
Preliminary judging rounds drew a large crowd on Saturday night. Monday night saw the final judging rounds in the venue’s ballroom. Potential winning photographers watched anxiously as images were eliminated and voting forward into the next rounds of judging. The ultimate prize is a check for $10,000 and the Grand Imaging Award. A total of $26,000 in prizes was given away.
Gary Jones, the winner of this year’s Grand Imaging Award, humbly accepted his trophy and prize. Further, his mother, who was in the audience, was the subject of his natural portrait titled The Destination Ahead.
Networking Avenue and More
At Imaging USA 2024, the Networking Avenue was the spot to meet other attendees, talk shop or shoot photos in one of the photo bays. Topic-focused areas made it easy to meet other photographers from your specialty.
What’s more, during the Expo, attendees checked out vendors’ booths and got up-to-date details on their offerings. Attendees also participated in post-class Q&A’s with Imaging USA speakers. Additionally, there was a spaced dedicated to Schools, Sports, and Event photography. Located on the Expo floor, the Stadium Club was a place to network with fellow SSE photographers and speakers as well as get individual 30-minute mentoring sessions in the Coaches’ Corner. The Stadium Club featured brands that offer specialized services, products and equipment specifically for high-volume photography.
Imaging USA Expo
The Expo provided the opportunity to interact one-on-one with the vendors. More than 145 brands enabled visitors to touch, try and learn more about photo gear from cameras to software. Live demos and mini-education sessions were also held at the Expo.
Furthermore, the Expo housed IPC’s Photo Display. Attendees could view 512 images from category finalists on large TV displays throughout the Expo. And all day on the Expo floor, you could catch speakers giving 30-minute talks on all things photographic.
PPA 2024 Degree Recipients & Award Winners
In addition, photographers got dressed up in their glittery gowns and sophisticated suits to walk across the stage and accept their PPA degrees at the event. PPA’s president, Kira Derryberry, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, also honored this year’s PPA award winners.
PPA recognized the following individuals for their outstanding contributions to the organization and industry as a whole:
- Tina Timmons, M.Photog.Cr.: PPA Jurors Meritorious Service Award
- Giuseppe Scozzi: PPA International Service Award
- Cris Duncan, M.Photog.M.Artist.Cr., CPP: PPA Education Award
- Trey Homan Cr.Photog., CPP: PPA Humanitarian Award
- Jeffrey Shaw Cr.Photog.: PPA Business Education Award
- Jamie Hayes, M.Photog.Cr., M.Photog.M.Wed.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI, API: PPA Volunteer of the Year Award
- Mark Weber, M.Photog.MEI.Cr., CPP: PPA Vanguard Award
- Nicholas Woodman: PPA Technology Impact Award
- Colby McLenmore, M.Photog.Cr., CPP: Director’s Award
- Mark Seliger: Lifetime Achievement Award and Honorary Master of Photography Degree
Other Imaging USA 2024 Happenings
The Pixel Connection Camera Store Sensor Cleaning
On January 26 and 27, show attendees could take advantage of Pixel Connection’s discounted sensor cleanings. Pixel Connection also provided savings on camera gear and the opportunity to trade in used or unwanted camera equipment.
Bridging the Gap Speaker Lounge
In addition, attendees could learn more from Imaging USA Gap Class speakers and get their questions answered. They could also meet the team from sponsor H&H Color Lab.
Realizing there’s a widening gap between photographers’ desires as artists and consumers’ needs as clients, PPA created the Bridging the Gap initiative. These classes teach photographers “to move forward in business with confidence, courage, support and financial know-how.” Bridging the Gap classes focus on helping photographers stay up on the photographic industry. They show how to attract the right photography clients, overcome business fears, conquer sales and understand the client’s expectations and needs.
Always popular, photo walks with Fujifilm, Nikon as well as MPB were all sold out. These events took place in the Rathskeller of the historic Seelbach Hotel, and there were eight separate walks on the schedule. Nikon photo walks were presented by Ben Davis of Yamean Studios; wedding and family photographer Chloe Ramirez; and portrait photographer/educator Audrey Woulard. Fujifilm’s photo walks were moderated by John Branch IV and Bess Adler. Moreover, the MPB photo walk featured Will Cadena, known for his dramatic lighting.
Fujifilm Closing Party
Finally, this year’s closing party was sponsored by Fujifilm. Attendees could celebrate while dancing the night away in KICC’s Ballroom C.
Imaging USA 2025
Save the date. Next year, the Imaging USA conference will be held in Grapevine, Texas, from February 2–4, 2025.