The Wedding Portrait Photographers International (WPPI)The 1970s were strong building years for Rangefinder’s yearly gross, as well as its circulation. Born of the same concept as Rangefinder, a new company emerged: Wedding Photographers of America, which eventually became Wedding Photographers International (WPI) in 1978. The organization was formed in response to industry-wide demand for an organization devoted solely to the special interests and needs of wedding photographers.
WPPI was the brainchild of Hy Sheanin and son, Steve, who saw the organization as serving important needs of an often-neglected segment of the industry, the wedding photographer. In those days, wedding photographers were known as “weekend warriors.” They were part-timers who were on the low end of the status scale. Yet they worked hard to improve their craft and they were a viable force in the marketplace, purchasing equipment and consuming film and paper at ever-increasing rates.
Steve threw his heart and soul into the new organization, developing as many personal relationships with working wedding photographers as he could. In 1979, an advisory board comprised of the foremost names in wedding photography was organized, and at the first meeting “Wedding Photographers of America” was changed to “Wedding Photographers International” to recognize the organization’s many members from around the world.
The association provided wedding photography members with membership benefits, including a monthly newsletter and two international print competitions, and, beginning in 1980, an annual convention featuring a variety of seminars, a tradeshow, and print competition.
In 1980, WPI held its first convention and trade show in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace. Steve recalls, “we had 24 booths—12 we sold and 12 we gave away. But we had in excess of 2,500 people attend at $10 a head.” He recalls, “We would do anything to get attention for our group. At Caesars, we had Monte and the late Rocky Gunn put on the gloves and get in the ring with Bill Stockwell as the referee. It was a symbolic clash of wedding styles. It was a huge hit.”
Realizing that many of WPI’s present and future members were involved in both wedding and portrait photography, Wedding Photographers International officially became Wedding & Portrait Photographers International on January 1, 1995.
WPPI completed its 33th annual Convention and Trade Show in March 2013, drawing more than 13,000 attendees and more than 300 exhibitors to its new convention space, the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.
MGM Grand Las Vegas