Industry News

Big Changes Afoot for TPM and WPPI 

July 12, 2023

By Abbey Pleviak

In a live public broadcast yesterday, Sue Bryce, creator of The Portrait System, The Portrait Masters Competition, and The Portrait Masters Conference, made several big announcements about The Portrait Masters Conference (TPM) coming up this Sept 11 – 14 at the Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix. 

Bryce’s broadcast, which can be viewed here, both gave exciting updates about the upcoming conference’s programing, and it dropped a couple of big bombshells that are shaking up her community and the photo conference world. 

Sue Bryce passes the stage to Cat Ford-Coates for her Main Stage talk at TPM 2022. This year’s show will be hosted by Cat Ford-Coates and Saray Taylor-Roman. © Gerson Lopes

The Bombshell News 

Previously, Bryce stated that she intends this year to be the best TPM ever because it will be the last time it happens in Arizona. In her latest announcement, Bryce topped that revelation with the news that she intends for this TPM to be the last photo conference at which she will be host and teacher. 

After over 30 years of being a prominent portrait photography educator, Bryce is stepping out of that role and has launched a new platform,, with the goal of helping people (photographers and non-photographers alike) master self value as a pathway for creating the life of their dreams. Photographers who still wish to learn from Bryce can do so by joining The Portrait System, where they can watch over 1,000 lessons by Bryce and receive support from her team of mentors who found success through using her methods. 

But, that’s not all. This will also be the last year TPM stands alone because next March, TPM will combine with WPPI in Las Vegas 

What will this look in practical terms? Show Director Aaron Anderson piped into the chat that TPM at WPPI will “will feature a lot of shooting bays, but also still have amazing speakers,” so it sounds very much like none of the features that loyal conference goers adore about TPM will be going away – except for Sue Bryce herself.  

Folio-building Shooting Bays will continue to be a feature at TPM when it joins up with WPPI in Las Vegas next Spring. © The Portrait Masters

Updates on TPM 2023 Programming 

While there were shock waves rolling through the group about the big changes afoot for TPM, there was also a lot of excitement that came along with Bryce’s announcements about photographers and speakers who she confirmed will be in attendance at this year’s conference. 

This year, there will be not one, but two shootouts where three photographers will go head-to-head, consecutively shooting one subject with 20 minutes each. Shootouts can be tremendously instructive as they illustrate in real time how master photographers approach subjects with their unique perspectives and bags of tricks. These condensed teachings can provide photographers with inspiration to expand their methodologies and their ways of viewing shoots.  

The first shootout will be with Canon Shooters Jeremy Cowart, Michele Celentano, and Sue Bryce herself. The second shootout will be with Fujifilm shooters Ben Chrisman, Caroline Tran, and Petronella Lugemwa 

Shootouts show how professional photographers work under the pressure of a time constraint while trying to one up each other, providing insight into fresh ways of seeing and capturing images. Here Dan O’Day photographs Aprohrodite at TPM 2022. © The Portrait Masters

The next big announcement was the reveal of the final Main Stage presenter, who has up until this date been shown as a question mark on the conference page. The extremely popular and personable David Suh will be the mystery speaker. Suh has 4.7 million TikTok followers and is such a phenom that Bryce, as his mentor, was asked for an interview with The Washington Post all about Suh. His videos are accessible, humorous, and instructive, so it’s no wonder Suh is a celebrity. You can check him out for yourself right here on TikTok or Instagram. 

Bryce also talked about other new features of the conference this year, like the Breakout Classes and the Mentoring, which you can find out more about here. She also showed off her favorite TPM merch, which you can preorder and pick up shipping-free at the conference. Lastly, she offered a promo code of SUE100, which will get you a $300 discount off TPM tickets, available here.  

[Read: Portrait Masters Conference ‘23: Early Bird Tix + New Offerings]

Bryce also offered the advice that while show dates are the 11th – 14th, she strongly recommends coming in on the 10th and not to “leave on the afternoon or the evening of the 14th because the last night is usually our biggest and craziest.” To make the most of it, arrive on the 10th and leave on the 15th. With the last party going past midnight on the 14th, you may even want to plan to sleep in a bit the following day. 

This year, the Conference’s final night is sure to be bigger than ever as Bryce’s many students say farewell to the old era of basking in her charismatic radiance and usher in a new time with Bryce’s protégés stepping in to take the lead and exciting new leaders gracing the stages of a new location. 

One of Sue Bryce’s favorite parts of TPM is the Silent Disco Costume Party. At last year’s Rock Star Party, she went all night without being recognized! This September, the theme of “Yacht-Rock” has been floated for the costume theme, but stay tuned, because that is not yet finalized. © The Portrait Masters

While the finer details are still unknown, we can be certain that with the tried-and-true leadership team of Aaron Andersen and George Varanakis back at the helm, TPM at WPPI is sure to be full of promise as two first-class photo conferences come together as one.  

And, with TPM 2023 being Bryce’s last hurrah and Varanakis and Andersen celebrating getting the dream team back together again, this September’s conference will be one for the books. 

From now until the conference, tune in to The Portrait System YouTube on Wednesdays at noon PST for interviews, late-breaking news, and fabulous giveaways!