Spotlight on the WPPI Lighting Masters Summit 

January 17, 2024

By Abbey Pleviak

We’re less than two months away from WPPI, the annual photography conference at the magnificent Mirage Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, from March 3 – 7! 

The WPPI Conference boasts over 135 photography educators leading over 140 seminars, talks, and Photo Walks over five days. Additionally, there will be over 80 exhibitors, 40 shooting bays, four nights of networking parties, and amazing add-ons to choose from, including The Portrait Masters Conference, two summits, and 80+ Photo Walks

Leading up to the Conference, Elena S Blair is hosting live online events every Wednesday at Noon PST on the WPPI Rangefinder YouTube channel with giveaways, games, and guest speakers. Elena recently got the dish on the Lighting Summit from Roberto Valenzuela and Audrey Woolard, two lighting masters who will be presenting at the summit on March 4.  

WPPI attendees provide some extra light to the photographer on stage. © PWP Studio Corporate Event Photographers

What are WPPI Summits? 

WPPI Summits are mini-conferences within the epic mega-conference that is WPPI. This year, WPPI is holding three summits – all on Monday, March 4. Each summit will have five demos. After the presentations, participants can try it out in a 3-hour hands-on shooting experience in the ‘The Playground,’ a hall with fifteen custom designed shooting bays with fully styled models, lighting by Profoto and Aputure, and professional backdrops including Oliphants. For $149, attendees can purchase a pass to the summit of their choice and get access to everything offered in that summit.  

This year’s summits are The Lighting Masters and The Weddings Masters. To learn about The Weddings Masters Summit, save the date of Wednesday, January 24, at Noon PST, when Vanessa Joy will be a guest on the WPPI Live.

“The Playground,” is a gallery of fully styled Shooting Bays just for use by ticket holders to Summits, Photo Walks, and The Portrait Masters Conference. © PWP Studio Corporate Event Photographers

The Lighting Summit 

As Elena S Blair says, “The most important part of being a photographer is understanding light,” and the Lighting Summit is an opportunity to learn from lighting experts who have shaped the industry. Many of them, like Canon Explorer of Light Roberto Valenzuela have written multiple books. Valenzuela’s latest book, Picture Perfect Flash shares his passion for artificial light, just as his summit presentation “Clever, Alternative, and Unexpected Lighting Techniques” will. His Lighting Summit presentation will equip photographers to implement simple yet transformative lighting techniques. 

Valenzuela advocates for an end to two camps of photographers – those who use natural light and those who use artificial light because it is so very simple to bring in artificial light and doing so adds so much. Adding artificial light allows you to fix light that is splotchy, bright, or too dark. It allows you to add separation to make a subject glow, add directionality and contouring to a face, add silhouette, and sculpt a face. It allows you to create a mood or change a mood. It removes green cast when photographing on grass. He says, you simply cannot do these things with natural light, but it is so easy to do with artificial light, and only takes a moment.  

© Roberto Valenzuela

Valenzuela intends for photographers to come away from his summit presentation understanding just how valuable it is to start incorporating artificial light. He says, “If you’re going to invest so much in photography equipment, why not get the best lighting possible from your portraits?” He notes that one time out of ten, natural light will be perfect with no way to improve it. The other nine, adding a little light can make your work look stunning and so much more professional.  

Audrey Woolard also spoke to the simplicity of adding in lights. Her summit presentation is called “One Light Wonder: Maximizing Light Simplicity.” Her mantra is “one light,” and her ethos is all about creating complicated looks with supremely uncomplicated setups.   

Elena S Blair notes that she had felt intimidated by artificial light, but once she got hands-on instruction, in person at a conference, she understood how easy and valuable it is. She says this “is where in-person learning is going to blow people’s minds!” Once you see someone do it, you see just how doable it is for you. 

Get your WPPI pass and ticket to the Lighting  Masters Summit

The Lighting Series

The Location Lighting Series

The Studio Lighting Guide

The Ultimate Lighting Course

Artistic Lighting for Maternity Portraiture – by Lola Melani