Some 15 years ago, I went to my first photography exposition at the Pasadena Convention Center in California. I spent two days in photographer’s bliss, attending seminars (such as learning how to care for your film when out on an adventure), and pouring over all the latest gadgets and goodies, like the then-new carbon fiber tripods.

Last week’s PDN PhotoPlus Expo at the Javits Center in New York brought me back to that blissful state, with four days filled with portfolio reviews, incredible seminars, and exhibit hall filled with all the latest photo toys and an incredibly fun print signing with Hahnemühle FineArt. If you’ve never been to a photography convention or exposition, it definitely needs to be on every photographer’s bucket list.

Over the next several posts, I’ll fill you in on all the cool stuff New York, and PPE, had to offer. In the meantime, here are a few of the highlights.

As you thumb through the latest issues of Shutterbug, Pop Photo or Outdoor Photographer, there are lots of ads from companies selling a plethora of photographic tools and gadgets. Many of which, your local camera store doesn’t stock (unless you live in New York, and B&H Photo or Adorama are your local outlets). So imaging plunking yourself into a 150,000-plus square-foot hall, with every imaginable camera and accessory available for you to touch and try before making a purchase, and the availability to buy at the show with some sort of varying discount. A photographer’s dream come true? You bet it is. It’s also a good way to max out your credit cards and fill your luggage (as I found out first hand).

Expos also afford the chance to expand your photographic horizons with seminars and mini workshops. Experts from throughout the world are on stage to explain techniques, hidden software tricks and share their business savvy, to help you grow as a photographer. In a matter of two hours, I learned more about social networking and marketing that I had cultured in two years on my own. I got to listen to, and meet some of photography’s greats such as John Paul Caponigro, David LaChapelle and Seth Resnick. I also got to take away a bevy of new techniques to try, and got answers to questions that I’d been gnawing at for a long time.

One of the gems of PPE were the portfolio reviews, put on by the Palm Springs Photo Festival folks. For a minimal fee, you get 20 minutes of face time with magazine editors, gallery owners, photography reps, stock agencies and other photo industry professionals. It’s a great way to get your work in front of people who buy and sell photography on a daily basis. The advice is invaluable, and you might walk right into an opportunity or two.