My WPPI Diary, Day 4: 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography, Icon Awards & Awesome Seminars 

March 6, 2024

By Abbey Pleviak

WPPI is in full swing, and it’s hard to believe there’s only one day left! Seminars are packed, Photo Walks are scattered around creating beautiful images, and the Show Floor is bustling with free education and demos, one-on-one mentoring, the Icon Awards Gallery, and photographers checking out products and gear and shooting in the gorgeous Shooting Bays. Today was a big day with 30 Rising Stars announced and some awesome seminars. Let’s look a little closer at these plus the Icon Awards recap in My WPPI Diary Day 4. 

Last Night’s Party 

Melissa and Jerry Ghionis began the Icon Awards Gala by inviting up all the volunteers who made the awards possible and giving them a huge thank you. © Abbey Pleviak

Last night’s party was the Icon Awards Gala, and it was quite a dressed-up affair with floor length evening gowns and sharp suits. Co-Directors Melissa and Jerry Ghionis co-hosted with assistance from Icon Grand Master Tony Hewitt. Excitement levels were high with Jerry noting “Being in this room is electric.” 

This year, the Icon Awards had 1800 entries from 39 countries and 235 finalists. All were honored in the celebration with the top three in each category, the Grand Champions, and Pro Photo Luminance Award taking home some great prizes. The Grand Award Winners were Kris Anderson, Richard Wood, Shannon Beauclair, and Mauro Cantelmi (in two categories). Alvaro Ruiz Nogues won the Pro Photo Luminance Award. Emily Pearl won the Ghionis scholarship of $18,500 in photography products and services.

Erica Manning said, “The Icon Award Ceremony was such an amazing event. All the images were absolutely incredible, and it was such an inspiration to watch the best artists in the industry be rewarded for their hard work. The judging, awards, and party were all first class. Bravo Jerry and Melissa Ghionis!!” 

Awesome Seminars 

Ashleigh Taylor spoke to a packed room this morning. © Alana Lee

Today was a great day for seminars!  

This morning Ashleigh Taylor gave her presentation on using online advertising to grow your business to a packed full room. She shared five mistakes that people make when running Facebook and Goodle Ads and advised photographers to “test different versions of ad copy, images, and videos to see what resonates best with your audience.” If you missed Ashleigh at WPPI, you can still learn from her about online advertising in her online courses: Get Fully Booked with Facebook Ads and Book Clients with Instagram

Kara Marie also gave a seminar this morning, talking about the evolution of boudoir photography. She told WPPI correspondent Angie Whitten, “My talk was called Boundless. I talked all about how amazing this industry is, how  much it has changed over the years, and what direction it should continue to go in to celebrate all of humanity and not just a narrow portion of it.” If you’d like to learn from Kara Marie, check out her online course: Boundless Boudoir. 

30 Rising Stars of Photography Announced 

Caroline Tran welcomed 30 Rising Stars in attendance at WPPI onto the WPPI Stage. © Matt Stagliano

This was the big day for the 50 finalists of Rangefinder’s 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography to find out who made it into the coveted final 30. Caroline Tran, a 2012 Rising Star, hosted the announcement saying, “When I came to WPPI for the first time 15 years ago, I was so inspired by all the amazing artists that I met and could only dream of being up on stage with them one day. And here I am today helping celebrate these 30 Rising Stars! I hope you all find just as much inspiration from their beautiful work as I have. I can’t wait to watch what this new generation of incredible photographers does next!” 

Rangefinder’s 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography are: 

Congratulations to all our 30 Rising Stars! Like Caroline, we just can’t wait to see what you create next! 

Parties Tonight! 

Tonight is the Smug Mug 80s Themed Wrap Party! Ticketholders of all levels are welcome to attend. Strut your 80s best and dance the night away! 

The After Party is at Marquee Nightclub at Cosmopolitan. 

Past WPPI Diary Entries

My WPPI Diary, Day 1 – Choose Adventure! 

My WPPI Diary, Day 2: Summit and Playground

My WPPI Diary, Day 3: Grand Opening of the Show Floor

The Successful Small Photography Studio

Get Fully Booked with Facebook Ads: A Photographer’s Guide to Using Facebook Ads

Book Clients with Instagram: A Portrait Photographer’s Guide to Instagram

Kara Marie’s Boudoir Digital Posing Cards

Boundless Boudoir By Kara Marie: Discover New Possibilities and Expand Your Offerings