*all photos taken with my iphone- all photos of me were taken by Matt with my iphone =)

The day finally came when Matt and I were headed to our first WPPI.  Nervous, I packed more than I should have because I just had no idea what to wear to these things!  Once we arrived to Vegas, the burnt cigarette smell, red eyes and dry nose got me really excited, for this will be our home for the next 5 days!  We decided to monorail ourselves to MGM where WPPI is held and filled with thousands of photographers.  I met a few that were so nice and even made friends with a couple.  I felt like I was home.  I don’t have many photographer friends and being able to meet others that have the same passion was like meeting old friends.  To make things even better, Matt was right there by my side experiencing the same thing.  We sat in our first class and I was inspired out of my mind, then another and another – we walked through the tradeshow that seemed like a huge candy store for photographers.  Then the moment I’ve been waiting for – finally seeing Jasmine Star speak and meeting the sweet Jesh de Rox- founder of Beloved.  Prior to going, Matt kept asking me if I was going to be ok when I am in the same room with them.  I would shrug my shoulders and just smiled but inside I was scared – terrified that these photographers would think that I was a joke, or thinking, why in the world would they talk to me?  Who am I to even go up to them to say hello?  What would I possibly have to say to these photographers who are so far ahead of me that I would just embarrass myself?  And then I remembered why I fell in love with them in the first place…

We stood in line that wrapped around the lobby as a “pre-board” attendee (which meant that I didn’t have to stand in the general line).  It was an hour before Jasmine Star had to go up on the platform to speak.  When we finally got to sit down in the 7th row on the right, Matt turns to me and asked, “Is this close enough?  You could probably find a single seat in the front if you want to be closer?”  I look at Matt with such love, I mean LOVE that he is THIS excited for me, but being where I was, right beside him and seeing one of my favorite inspirations was perfect enough for me.  I see JD on the stage and my heart began to race because then I knew Jasmine Star was nearby (it also helped that JD was as handsome as he is in his photos). She comes on stage dancing and right away she captured the room.  As I listened to Jasmine speak, she nervously reminded all of us that we could all achieve our greatness just by being “You.”  I listened intensely.  She finished her platform class (which was filled with thousands of people) with flair and just openness. I was inspired. Inspired enough to go up to say hello. I stood in line from the side and was a bit scared to move forward.  I look back at Matt and he nods at me to keep going. After the girl in front of me decided to jump up, hug, and then kiss her, I knew that whatever I did was going to be ok.  =) There were people left and right waiting to get the chance to meet her.  One girl apologized for being sweaty and Jasmine responded, “I think I’m sweaty too!” then turns to her left and asked if she was sweating- as a sistah wanting to help a sistah out, I pull out my box of facial blot sheets and offered her one.  She turns to me and says, “Where have you been all my life?” Instead of jokingly answering- ‘stalking you online,’ I gave her a smile and spilled my guts out to her.  It was such a quick visit that really, I wish I could remember every word I had said.  But one thing for sure, it had something to do with how she has motivated me in so many ways.  Up until that day, I had thought about the things I wanted to say to her and I ended up being like a little girl meeting Cinderella for the first time.  I wanted to have a picture taken to look like we were old friends so I asked her if we can dance in our picture. I managed to make her laugh instead.

On a side note, I found my favorite restaurant in Vegas- Mon Ami Gabi (recommended by my friend J.Y.).  We had gone on our second night only to have to make reservations because the line was out the door- but the 24 hr wait was well worth it!   The French onion soup…*drool*

Back to my other highlight of our stay…  I begged to find Jesh de Rox’s booth before leaving for the airport.  Two hours before our flight, we still had not found his booth until on our way out.  I assessed the area like an undercover agent for Jesh and he was nowhere to be found.  I talked myself into thinking that it was ok since I was still feeling excited to have met one of my favorite photographers the night before and it would be dopamine overload if I also get to meet The “Beloved” King; I just wouldn’t know what to do with myself! But lo and behold, while I was checking out his Beloved collections, he walks up to Matt and me. My hands began to sweat, my eyes were wide open and I repeatedly said, “oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh…” under my breath.  Matt looks at me with such amusement and I turn to Jesh and I asked for a hug because I was speechless.  He looks at me and looks at Matt and asked if he can demonstrate Beloved on us.  I immediately said yes and Matt, bursting with relief, turned him down because we had to catch our flight.  A bit of disappointment on my face, I agreed and Jesh then responded, what if I start with you two and it would only take 10 minutes?  I felt like the fog just cleared up and the sun beamed at Matt like a spot light while I held my breath for Matt to agree.  Matt, sweating as if he’s been out in the heat all day, looked at me not really knowing what to do because he knew that this would make me so happy – and yet would make him feel as if everyone is seeing him naked.  (If you have never met Matt, he is a social butterfly who’s wings didn’t grow out right)  When Matt finally agreed, I too began to feel nervous but more in awe in the fact that I was actually in the same room with Jesh and he picked us for a demonstration.  We laughed, we blushed, and emotions filled up the room.  I knew that Jesh was amazing but until being there in the forefront, even for just 10 minutes reminded me why I have become a photographer.

There are many moments of disbelief and pure amazement.  I kept thinking- I can’t believe I’m wearing a tag that has my name on it, and it says I’m a photographer.  I was one of thousands of people who attended but it felt grand.  Yes, it was just a name tag, and some people may not really care to understand this, but being there made me feel alive, excited and inspired.  Even if it was just me that felt this, I am thankful.  I have a lot to learn and “changes to make” (Jasmine Star).  I feel moved, motivated, and excited.  I can’t wait to capture beautiful moments for people and have them remember their experience with me.  I am grateful for Matt for loving me and lucky that we both enjoy photography.  However, my biggest lesson is that whatever passion you may have whether it’s photography or something else, allow yourself to go for it.  Want it, feel it, make changes so that you can achieve it.  Surround yourself with people who feel the same way, with the same passion, who will support you and go through the journey together.  It’s beautiful and it makes you feel at home.

look, feel, remember…


*all photos taken with my iphone- all photos of me were taken by Matt with my iphone =)

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