Me with my muse, Bailey!

About Allison Shamrell Photography:

Thanks for visiting my blog! My name is Allison, and I work in San Diego, CA, capturing the personalities of dogs and cats of all sizes & temperaments. I do photo sessions on location and in-studio, wherever my clients prefer! My photography style is natural, playful & soulful.

Here on my blog, I tell the stories of recent sessions and events. You might even find an insight or two into the behind-the-scenes side of my business! I hope you have fun looking around!

If you would like to receive a quick little email to let you know when I publish a new post, see the button at the bottom left of this page! Thanks! :)

619-357-6624  ~  ~  3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116

Officially Voted the Best Pet Photographer in San Diego, 2014-2017, by the San Diego A-List.

Photography Conference Recap & Review: WPPI 2013

Whew. I’m back from VEGAS. It was a whirlwind of a photography conference, and I definitely expected it to be crazy – did you see the blog post I wrote before I left? The conference exceeded my expectations, that’s for sure! I had lots of fun, met some wonderful people, and learned a TON. My to-do list is, quite literally, ridiculous; some of the items are big sweeping changes and some are little adjustments that’ll make my day-to-day smoother & more productive. I’ll leave the nitty-gritty boring details out of this blog post, but I can’t resist filling you in on a few highlights!


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Haha, despite the photo above, I actually spent NO time outside sunbathing. Surprising? I think so too! This was just the gorgeous view from the inside of the MGM Grand! It had to be a pretty darn amazing conference to keep me indoors in the absolutely-100%-perfect Las Vegas weather, that’s for sure…

First of all: let me tell you about the classes. I attended the maximum number of classes I could; they were all about business, lighting, marketing, customer service, Photoshop, and more. Surprisingly, one of my favorites was called “Law School for Photographers”, because despite the boring subject, the speaker was really entertaining! And he’s a full-time photographer AND lawyer, so he knew his stuff. I got a shout-out from Jasmine Star during her talk, because I’d met her just beforehand and told her that I was going to her presentation even though she’s a wedding photographer and I’m a pet photographer. That was pretty awesome! (she’s a big deal.) And Jasmine didn’t disappoint – I walked away from her class with plenty of new information and strategies I can use in my business! All in all, I was able to listen to Dane Sanders, Jasmine Star, Melissa Ghionis, Jon Goldman, Emily Potts, and Mark & Jennifer Garber, among so many others. If you’re not a photographer, sorry, that list probably made you glaze over. If you are a photographer, then you know the celebrity-caliber of speakers I got to see!


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The classes served as reminders for lots of things I already knew, too. Like to get out from behind social media and into the community. (I know, I know, I’m blogging while saying this… don’t worry, I’m making plans to get away from the computer too!) The classes also reminded me that I’m not only a professional photographer, but a professional design consultant as well. You see, my personality isn’t super assertive, and I can sometimes shy away from offering my opinions if I don’t think my clients will like them. But in reality, I need to be more decisive and suggestive about what decor will complement my clients’ homes as I continue to learn more about interior design. I’ve already studied quite a bit (more than just looking through Pinterest boards, haha!) and as a result, I know plenty of information about portrait groupings, single pieces, placement rules, framing vs. canvas vs. framing with mats, and more. My clients aren’t only paying me to take pictures; they’ve hired me for my expertise and the whole experience. An integral part of the Allison Shamrell Photography experience is creating home decor that’s beautiful & timeless, and I have to remind myself that sometimes the perfect wall gallery is just an idea or two away!


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The classes about running my business were incredibly useful, too. As a one-person operation, it’s extremely easy to fall into a way of thinking and a way of doing things that creates long nights and weekends of work, which in turn takes its toll on your sanity. Travis Gugleman gave this advice to his class attendees: pretend that the business I own should be the prototype for 5000 more businesses JUST like it. That means it has to run incredibly smoothly, not have any loose ends, and account for all the hours I put into it. Wow… I’ve definitely NEVER thought about this little photography business I have like that! That was a serious lightbulb moment for me!


I could go on about the classes, but honestly, the more FUN part of WPPI for me was the Trade Show!


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I walked around two MASSIVE rooms full of printing labs, software makers, album binders, equipment makers, canvas gallery wrap producers, financial services, photography associations, and more, for 5-6 hours a day. Yes really, 5+ hours for 3 days straight. It was absolute madness, but it served one VERY important purpose: I need to make sure I’m offering the best products in the industry. Period. And guess what: I am!! Well, at least in my opinion, I am! I was absolutely thrilled to see that my labs, album makers, etc. are all still my favorites. No other booths wowed me as much as my labs did; they have the products with the best feel, the sturdiest construction, and they’re leading the industry in terms of new developments. It was SO nice to wander the floor thinking, “yep, I should offer that and I do… nope, that isn’t quite as nice and I don’t offer it anyway…” So yay! :)

I DID find a couple of new products to offer that’ll be completely new to my product line! I’m very excited about them, and once I get my samples, I’ll be introducing them here on the blog!


beautiful packaging solutions for prints & DVDs

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bags with photo holders, and metallic cutout clocks… I actually don’t plan to offer either of these, but they were funky to see!

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photos printed onto beautiful, smooth wooden boards – can you tell they’re wood?

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The highlight of the conference for me: saying hi to the photographer that, arguably, I admire most in this world, Salvatore Cincotta. Actually, that’s not true – I didn’t say hi to him, HE said hi to ME! :) I saw him from a few dozen feet away during the trade show; he had just finished up a small presentation and was in the midst of fielding questions from a few people that stuck around to ask whatever they were curious about. I’d met Sal (oh yeah, we’re on a first name basis, no big deal) at a smaller conference last year, and he actually did a quick portfolio review for me, which I LOVED. But this man is incredibly busy and spends much more time with many more photographers, so when I saw him again last week I certainly wasn’t expecting to say hi… but we made eye contact from across the way and he waved at me!! Then when I went over to talk to him, he hugged me and said “good to see you, how have you been?” It was all I could do not to squeal “aaaaaaahhh you know who I am!!” Honestly, I don’t get starstruck (Salstruck?) very much, but I respect this man to the umpteenth degree; if I could run my business with HALF the acumen & wisdom with which he runs his, not to mention produce images that are half as beautiful, I’d be thrilled. So I told him about how we’re moving soon, and he offered his thoughts on starting up fresh in a new studio space. We said goodbye and he told me to keep in touch – I will, Sal! I will! :)


a blurry iPhone photo of Sal Cincotta:

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A third benefit to WPPI (beyond the classes & the expo) is the fact that most of the country’s talented photographers are all in the same town at the same time. So I got to network with lots of other photographers that I really respect! I actually shared a hotel room with Dana Cubbage, a fabulous wedding & pet photographer in Charleston, SC, and Mary Louise DeCrecenzio, a wedding photographer in Columbia, SC. I also spent a bit of time with Julie Clegg of Bailey & Banjo Pet Photography from Seattle. All of these women do GREAT work, and hanging out with them was a lot of fun! I was also thrilled to give my card to Kenna Klosterman and Dane Sanders; I’d love to get a call from either of them, haha! Oh, and get this: one afternoon I posted on Facebook that I’d love to get headshots done while I was there (because Lord knows that was overdue), and just a few hours later I was posing in front of the incredible Matt Roberts‘ camera! That was an absolutely fantastic afternoon and I’m so thankful for the experience. You’ll be seeing those headshots here on the blog and on my website very soon!


Here’s just one, and this is straight out of Matt’s camera… he’s SO talented!

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Another interesting experience was the print judging competition I attended. I actually didn’t know there would be a print competition at WPPI; I might have entered had I known it was going on! But that’s okay; it was fun to see everything that happened and the process behind it. Basically, prints were submitted from photographers all over the country into various categories (children, animals/pets, weddings, etc.), and in one afternoon a selection of judges sat down (I have no idea how these judges were chosen) and scored each print. The average number between the five judges’ scores was assigned to the print as its final score. What was especially fascinating to me was hearing WHY they scored photos the way they did. On various photos (typically, when the judges’ scores varied by more than usual) the moderator would ask a judge or two to say a few words about the photo. Their comments ranged from basic composition suggestions to color treatments to matting choices, even to the paper on which the photo was printed on! I would never even have an inkling (no pun intended, ha) that the finish of a paper could bump up or take down the score of the overall presentation, but hey, I’d never given much thought to print competition at all before. It was a fascinating process and I’d love to enter something next year – but honestly, and obviously, my clients’ opinions are WAY more important to me than some judge’s. So whether I score or not, I know my priorities! :)


The expo had live shoots going on, in addition to all the vendors’ booths! It was especially cool when the demonstrators’ cameras were tethered to nearby TV screens, so we could see the results of what they were teaching. (Photographers: that’s Lindsay Adler shooting here!)

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All in all: WPPI was fantastic. It was a huge investment of time and money; I stopped taking clients a whole week in advance because I didn’t want my trip to interfere with someone seeing their photos for the first time, which would mean they’d have to wait over a week until I got back, and that’s not fair. I also allowed myself a bit of catch-up time this week; my first session isn’t till Friday and thank goodness for that because I have sooooo much to do in the meantime! So while I’ve put all my regular studio processes on hold for a while, it’ll be worth it in the long run because my business is going to run much more smoothly after I apply everything I learned last week. If I go next year, I wouldn’t do much differently; maybe I’d attend a few less classes and make more time for networking & socializing with fellow photographers. I also would NOT book a redeye flight back home!! Gah… that made for a long day on Friday. But overall, it was an awesome experience, and I’ve got plenty of motivation to make this year an AWESOME year for my business and my clients!


This is the end result of WPPI: literally wearing holes into my shoes. But it was worth it!

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Allison Shamrell Pet Photography
Call: 619.357.6624 // Email: // Visit: 3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116
San Diego's Best Pet Photographer, voted by the San Diego A-List 2014-2016
© Allison Shamrell Photography, 2016

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One Response to “Photography Conference Recap & Review: WPPI 2013”

  1. […] and just so you know: WPPI introduced me to a lot of new things, and this is just one of TWO completely new products to the Allison Shamrell Photography line! So […]

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