It’s that time of year! Many of you will be headed to IUSA, but have you done what you need to get the very most out of the experience?

IUSA, as well as other conventions you might attend this year, are vital to strengthening your skillset; growing your marketing expertise, and increasing revenue. Plus, being together with other artists and business owners is one of the best ways to recharge your battery!

The bottom line? You need to be there, and Marathon (booth 727) is a perfect example of why – new products, special programs, and great offers to help expand your presence in the community.


So, let’s start planning your trip!

  • Why are you going to IUSA? Figure out the most important things you want to get out of the show before you get there. 
  • Build your vendor list! Look around your office, studio, or the trunk of your car. Isolate every product you use and put the manufacturer on a list. Now, look at every company whose services you use. Your lab, frame company, web design, album company, etc., should all be on the list. Your first goal BEFORE you get to the show is to isolate every company involved in your business.
  • Are there products you need for your business or new services you require?  From labs to albums to hardware, software and business management support, there are over 100 companies now signed up for space at the show! And don’t forget to visit the PPA member booth for the latest information on their insurance program and other benefits.
  • Get your credit line in advance! If there are some high-ticket products you think you’re going to need, know what you’ve got to spend before you hit the trade show floor. Know what you can afford before you start drooling over new equipment, and don’t forget about renting or leasing. Leasing/renting gives you a chance to utilize somebody else’s assets without depleting yours!
  • Exhibitor Lists: Every conference, including IUSA offers a list of exhibitors in advance. Your goal is to meet at least one staff member in each category of products on your list. This is a critical component to building an effective network.  
  • Get in Early: Attend IUSA’s pre-con events. Plan your arrival based on your needs and what you want to take from the convention.
  • Walk through the print exhibit. This is a terrific time to get a feel for the trends in imaging because you’ll see just about everything in the images submitted for competition.
  • Wear comfortable shoes! 
  • Bring business cards and some images. Personally, I’ve always liked being shown a 5×7 or 6×9 collage of a few images in a postcard style with the photographer’s address and contact information. Unless you’ve made an appointment in advance, most exhibitors won’t have the time to look at a full portfolio, or an iPhone chocked full of images. However, leaving a card-stock piece or brochure with a vendor and contacting them after the show can be very effective.
  • NEVER eat a meal alone! Make plans for breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings NOW. You might even want to make a reservation or two and then fill out the table once you’re at the show. If you’re going to be headed out for dinner, it helps to know where and when you’re going. And lunch is always perfect to meet other photographers and business owners!
  • Vendor programs: Pay attention to those key vendors you want to see and what’s happening in their booth. A lot of vendors have guest speakers doing demos in their booths.
  • You snooze, you lose! Look, I was young and stupid once too, and there are few things as fun as going out with friends and barhopping. However, you’re at the show for a reason, and if you need to sleep in late the following morning, your evening out with friends might become the most expensive investment you make in the show if you miss appointments or presentations you had planned to attend.
  • Look over the programming. Plan which speakers you want to hear in advance. Plus, always pick at least 1-2 programs entirely out of your specialty. GROWTH ONLY HAPPENS OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE!
  • Take a few pictures. This is about building a stash of images to use later on. From press releases, blog posts, social media pieces and even “Throwback Thursday” years from now, these photographs will become invaluable. Look for opportunities for pictures with vendors and those speakers you admire.
  • Talk to the people around you when you attend any program. A photography convention like this is unique because you’re all there for the same reasons. Make it a point to get to know the people sitting on either side of you at any presentation. It’s amazing what you can learn by just talking to each other.
  • Talk to the icons! I’m always amazed by how many of you are intimidated by your favorite photographers. The truth is they’re there to teach and meet other photographers interested in their work. Just walk up and introduce yourself and thank them for whatever inspiration they’ve given you. Honestly, they don’t bite!

You’ve got a choice in how you want to kick off 2024 – you can either sit on the sidelines and watch the parade go by or you can be a part of it!

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