02nd Jan2016

Prepping for IUSA 2016

by Christine

Are you ready? For some reason, it’s really crept up on me this year, how about you? I finally did the dreaded IUSA gown-shopping trip today and in the midst of all the dress-trying-on frenzy, I wound up getting excited. I don’t know what it is, but this year… maybe it’s because it’s so close to the holidays, but I was just not feeling the excitement very much before today.

So, let’s go over some stuff:


By now you should have your registrations and hotel reservations at the bare minimum. If you want to register for a pre-convention class, you probably ought to get cracking on that, too. If you haven’t done any of that yet, put down the pop-tarts and head over to these links:





Those of you really organized types (ie people who are my very.dear.friends.) will want to make sure that you download the IUSA app onto  your smart phone.  The link for that is HERE.

It shows the entire schedule of the whole shebang and allows you to design your own custom schedule of classes you are interested in seeing. That part is pretty cool,

BUT (note to any PPA bigwigs who have a hand in the design of these things, the rest of you can skip to the next paragraph) PLEASE for the love of all that is holy allow the option to insert my own personal time slot into this app. There are a number of specialized PPA and IUSA-oriented events and meetings that I am supposed to be at that are not open to the general public, so they’re not on the public schedule… For example, the Judge’s Refresher Training, The CPP Liaison Meeting, My Mentor Booth Appointment, Degrees & Awards Ceremony Rehearsal, ASP Banquet, etc – you know what I mean? Make it easy on a lot of us and combine everything into one schedule, it’s driving me mad to have to cross check the IUSA schedule with my own personal calendar.

OK Rant over, sorry, not sorry.

So, anyway, some kind of schedule is going to help you out, I suggest a combination of the IUSA app and whatever calendar (smartphone, daytimer, etc) you usually utilize.

As a bare minimum, you’re probably set. It’s just fine to walk through the front doors and bounce from class to class like a Roomba, but you’re probably better off checking the schedule over thoroughly and at least following some kind of semblance of order. I prefer to stay on the “portrait” track, myself, but you’ll find me in other topics, depending on the instructor.

The first year I went to IUSA, I met some friends there and basically went to whatever class one of the other ones was going to that I thought sounded the most interesting. Believe it or not, I’m a little shy and was just not comfortable entering classrooms with so many people in them by myself. True story. I have trouble in crowds. Sometimes.

What I wound up with was a smattering of helpful things and only one speaker I truly enjoyed.

This is certainly an effective way to get a haphazard dose of education, but I suggest going it on your own if you have to, and save the socializing for the meal times and designated party times.

I set a very complex schedule up for myself last year with something in every single class time slot as well as every slot with a trade show speaker. I was busy from morning until night and for me, that’s the best way to utilize my time. I generally don’t get to attend classes at my state convention (because I’m usually on the team running it), so this is my way to get in as much education in as I can.

Hey, this trip costs a lot of money  – I need to maximize my investment.


I generally wait until the night before the trip to pack my bag, and then I just sort of fit as much of my closet in there as I can. Since I’m flying Southwest, I’m allowed to check two bags, but realistically, toting two bags on the MARTA is not going to be a pretty sight, so I’m trying to really plan well to minimize the extra clothes I wind up taking back home with me unworn, this time. Plus, I need to allow some extra room because, well… trade show.

One of the things that’s helpful is to check a 10-day weather forecast to help you pack. It looks like the first few days are going to be warmer than the last time I was in Atlanta for Imaging, so I’m not packing much in the “heavy outerwear” department. Those of you staying at the OMNI will be delighted to know that the convention center is attached to the hotel via a covered walkway of some sort – so carrying your coat around the trade show will not be on your pet-peeve list this year.

If you’re attending the ASP Banquet or being honored onstage at either the Grand Imaging Awards or the Awards and Degrees Ceremony, you’ll want to make arrangements for slightly dressier clothing than normal. No, I can’t help you with this – did you read the part about how I waited until 4 days before my flight to shop for a dress?

For the most part, I recommend that you be comfortable. Wear shoes that you’ve already worn a lot and wear layers, you never know if a place is going to be warm or cool and layers are your best bet for working around that. Yes, I know, I sound like my grandmother.

Another helping hint: a backpack. If you’re like me, slugging around bags and purchases and notebooks and purses and cameras causes me angst. The most convenient mode of dealing with all of that is a backpack. It’s pretty much a fanny pack on steroids.

Depending on what kind of student you are, you ought to throw a notebook in that backpack. I’m  a note-taker and I have a specific notebook I bring to classes. If you forget, don’t worry, though, the last few years, PPA had some cool little information books at the registration desks that had pages in them for note-taking. They’re not ideal, if you take lots of notes, but they’re helpful in a pinch.

So, that’s pretty much the basics. How are you doing with your prep? I did that dreadfully responsible thing and paid for my trip piece by piece months ago. Except for buying my gown in June*,  the rest of the prepping in advance was a wise decision. Now I’m not going to get hit with a bunch of expenses in one fell swoop. All that’s left is to check the schedule for any recent additions and pack my suitcase.

If you’re still reading this far – I’d like to cordially invite you to join a group of my students and mentees on Sunday, January 10 at 12 noon in the PPA eatery by the Image Exhibit. We will hang out and have lunch together and then walk through the Image Exhibit afterwards. Last year was a great time, we ran into a number of judges and artists that I knew and they took the time to give our group several impromptu talks about image competition or their images. The link to the Facebook Event is HERE.

*It’s like Murphy’s Law; the minute you buy a dress for a future event, you gain just enough pounds to not fit into it any more.

Peace, Love & Pop-Tarts,





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