Industry News

Emerald Taps Two Industry Veterans to Oversee WPPI and its Photo Group Portfolio

December 15, 2022

By Jacqueline Tobin

If the names Aaron Andersen and George Varanakis sound familiar, that’s because they have been creating, coordinating, and successfully expanding live, in-person trade shows and conferences, as well as live-streamed, online events for more than 20 years—CreativeLive, Sue Bryce Education, The Portrait Masters Conference, and so on. And now they’ve been brought on board by trade show company Emerald [which is the parent company of Rangefinder] to help WPPI conference organizers create even more vibrant, educational, and interactive experiences for exhibitors and attendees.

On the show floor at WPPI in 2022. © PWP Studio Corporate Event Photographers

Beginning in 2023, Andersen will assume the role of Group Show Director of the Photo Group, which now includes WPPI, Portrait Masters and The Portrait System Powered by Sue Bryce, while Varanakis will take over as Strategic Advisor of the group.

[Read: Sue Bryce Education and The Portrait Masters Join Emerald’s Photo Group]

Andersen, a video producer by trade, joined CreativeLive in 2012 where he, along with Varanakis and a third partner, grew the online learning center into one of the largest and most successful live-streaming educational platforms on the Internet. Varanakis, a true veteran of the photographic industry, was the early coordinator of WPPI, as well as former publisher of Rangefinder, and grew WPPI’s attendance and exhibitor participation by more than 400 percent during his eight-year reign.

Says Varanakis: “Aaron and I are very excited to be working closely again with many of our former colleagues at WPPI to make next year’s events the very best they can be and build the type of community and interactive learning experience exhibitors and attendees enjoyed prior to the pandemic. My photographic heritage began with WPPI in 2003, and the knowledge base Aaron and I have amassed through other ventures places us in a unique position to create in-person events that are based on evolutionary learnings we’ve gleaned over the past 20 years.”

In 2016, Andersen and Varanakis joined Sue Bryce to co-found online education platforms Sue Bryce Education and The Portrait Masters. Today, with more than 10,000 members worldwide, they continue to cultivate international brand growth, leading to the first Portrait Masters Conference in 2017, which sold out in 24 hours. The conference, now owned by Emerald, continues to be one of the most successful and popular interactive boutique events in the photographic industry today.

“Aaron and George have decades of experience in live event planning and expert knowledge of the inner workings of the photo industry,” says Gannon Brousseau, EVP at Emerald. “We have every confidence that their expertise and knowledge of the industry will bring a fresh perspective and increased energy as they work with the WPPI and Portrait Masters teams to enhance the events to accurately reflect the passion, innovation, and creativity of the community that we serve.” 

WPPI 2023 takes place March 5-9 and combines exceptional programming with unforgettable networking and includes awe-inspiring seminars, hands-on sessions and exciting photo walks from the industry’s most rousing photographers and content creators. Register here for WPPI 2023 classes, photo walks and more!