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April 22, 2010

When you tell people in Vancouver that you’ve just come home from Winnipeg, they first thing they say usually goes like this, “Ah, Winter-peg. How was Winter-peg anyway?”.  To tell you the truth, it was beautiful and warm – much warmer than Vancouver that weekend.

But I digress…the real question is what were we doing in Winnipeg in the first place.

A few months ago we were approached by the folks at PPOC-MB to come and speak for them in Winnipeg, and the idea was really exciting to us! We don’t get the opportunity to speak in Canada as much as we would like to.  It’s home. And Winnipeg is the center of North America, which is pretty cool.

The idea of Winnipeg was appealing to me because my family is from that area. Just two hours east of Winnipeg, in a town called Kenora, my Grandfather and Great-Uncle ran Lakewood Studios and made their living, such as it was, from photography. This was my dad’s dad, but he knew my mom her whole life too, and all the photographs we have of my parents growing up were taken by my Grandpa. It’s kind of a cool bit of history and makes those old images even more precious to me. In fact, my Grandpa photographed my parent’s wedding (in the studio, which was the way it was done back then). I love that both my Grandfather and Great-Grandfather were professional photographers – it gives me a real sense of connection with my history.

Winnipeg was always a drive-thru town for us. Except for the days we would spend at various relative’s homes. Those visits are hazy in my memory, characterized by the need to sit quietly on a couch with doilies draped over the back. I was intrigued with the idea of actually being in Winnipeg, as a grown up, without relatives all around me.

The first thing both Steve and I noticed when we were on approach to the Winnipeg airport was the vastness of the land. It is so open there – no mountains or ocean to hem the city in. And it’s overwhelming for those of us who have lived our lives surrounded by such things. More so for Steve than me, since I spent a lot of time there as a kid, but a little disconcerting for me too. And yet it was intriguing too – the landscape seems endless, and somewhat untamed in that vastness.

We met a number of the attendees at a social event the evening before. We were immediately struck by the obvious depth of knowledge in the room. There was a core group of PPOC-MB members who had year of experience as working photographers. I joked that this group had probably forgotten more about photography than I would ever know. But there was truth to that – many of those people had decades of knowledge and experience. They were sitting to our left.

To our right were the newer photographers, most of whom had been in business 5 years or less. They were the enthusiasm to the other group’s experience. We’ve seen this before, but never in such obvious contrast. And I was struck with how valuable each group is to the other – experience and enthusiasm on their own are merely one part of the equation, but together they are a potent combination. It was a hopeful realization, that these groups could respect each other, and learn from each other, and one that helped influence how we approached our talk the next day.

Our goal, in every talk we do, is to provide concrete take aways for our students. We know that the wedding industry is cyclical and that what we sow now will be reaped in next year’s booking cycle. But we also don’t want them to have to wait an entire year to see results, so we offer a few ideas of things that can be done right now.  We try to balance our program with levity as well as intense information, filling it with a variety of ideas, assignments and inspiration.

We had a great time, with a wonderful group of people. The interaction was fantastic, and getting to talk to many of the attendees one-on-one was really enjoyable. We both love hearing how other people approach things, what traditions exist in each regional area, and more. Everyone was generous in sharing with us, and that is something we appreciate in turn.

We would like to extend our thanks to everyone who came to hear us speak. The time flew by and we wish we could have spent more time with you all. In particular we want to thank the people at PPOC-MB – Jeremy Hiebert, Ron Frazer and Ron Gilfillan – for their help and support. To see their take on our talk, check out the PPOC-MB blog entry about our visit.

In an effort to try and include photos with every blog post, here are two that Steve made. One was taken from the window of the plane and the other during a walk around town.

Finally, we need to thank the companies who supported both the PPOC-MB and us, with wonderful door prizes, give aways, and discount codes:

WHCC, Showit Sites, Finao, Photodex, ShootQ,and iFolios.

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