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Photoshop World Vegas 2011: It's Not Just an Event

Another Photoshop World has come and gone, and there's just six more months until the next one.  I'm enjoying each one the more I go because for me it's not just the classes, it's the socialization.  I started out at my first PSW by not knowing anybody (except kind of one person from social media, but only kind of), and now I have a whole group of people that I can hang out with, and talk to.  

I heard from a few people, "I'm not going to Photoshop World, I don't know anybody," or "I went to Photoshop World, but didn't have a good time since I didn't know anybody."  I always ask those people if they went out of their way to meet people.  There are so many ways to get to know people. There's the Tweetup on Tuesday night, the after-hours party Wednesday night, people in your classes are a great way to talk to somebody, the expo hall, whereever. I haven't come across a single person who is not open to meeting somebody new.  Even in the "established" groups, the ones I saw didn't have a problem with somebody sitting down and joining in on the conversation.  For a lot of people it's difficult and scary to do that, but you have to get out of your comfort zone, and just take a chance!

Photos at the Tweetup were taken by Erik Valind and sponsored by onOne Software

The Keynote

The PSW keynote is always an event.  The first part of the Vegas one is always pretty much the same as the one at the east coast PSW. The difference this time being that the model's dresses were different (the theme was Project Photoshop, so they did a runway with models).  The first part of the keynote was fun to watch, even though I'd seen the video in Orlando.  The middle part, when Adobe came up, was "meh."  First, there was no Johnny L. He's always the Adobe highlight, with his sense of humor, and great speaking style.  Second, Adobe announced Carousel.  Now at first, I'll admit, I was super excited about this. They showed a little video, and I thought they were going to announce Lightroom for the iPad.  I was mistaken. (other note: it's not a corporate conference, next time please get a guy who doesn't present to a corporate crowd).

Carousel is a way for people to share photos "in the cloud" with other friends and family, and everybody can edit together.  Sounds slightly cool, right? Until I went to the Adobe booth, and found out that basically it's a pre 1.0 version and designed for the iPhoto crowd.

"Can you sort by anything but date?" No.
"Does it have Lightroom integration?" No.
"Can it do RAW?" No.
"Can I share with a group of friends?" Only 5.
"Can I lock them out from editing?" No.

The editing itself is also pretty limited.

At that point I completely lost interest. I was assured that those things were on the horizon, but if you're going to announce a product like that, at a professional (or at least advanced) photography/Photoshop conference, it needs to do advanced things right off the bat. I really thought it would be a cool way for my little social media group from PSW to share photos with each other, but with these limitations, plus a $5.99/month price tag, I don't see that happening at least right now. Hopefully in the future something like this would be possible.

The Classes

I didn't go to a precon this time, choosing instead to relax and bum around with some friends.  So for me, the classes didn't start until Wednesday.  A general rule somebody told me once was that if you attended a class in the past, don't repeat it unless the information has been updated.  I stuck by that, so tried out some different things this time.  There was only one class that I truly didn't like since the instructor didn't come even close to the topic he was supposed to be talking about (even though he even reiterated the topic at the beginning), so I left, and did leave feedback about that. There were a few new instructors this time around, and I'll have to admit, that my favorite classes were the ones by Dave Black and Joel Grimes.

I met Dave Black back in Orlando, and was impressed with his style of speaking (extremely motivational, and very funny), and way of conveying the information. This is a man whom you could hand a book to such as War and Peace, and you'd be asking for more when he read it aloud.  I attended one of his classes already, but this time he had two new classes on the agenda: Speedlighting and Lightpainting.  Both made me immediately want to go out and try new things, and spend money on 7 more Speedlites.  I'm not entirely sure where the PSW crew finds these instructors, but they do such a good job of bringing in new people.

I almost missed the expo floor class by Joel Grimes.  It was at 1:15 on Wednesday, and I really was keen on seeing the vendors. However, with a course titled "Surviving in Today's Marketplace", I wanted to check it out, and I'm glad I did.  Not only does Joel Grimes make amazing sports (and other) composites, but he's also extremely inspiring, and tells it like it is.  I got a chance after his talk to speak to him, and the most important thing he said to me was, "if your photo looks like it could've been taken 10 years ago, it's probably boring."  With the expo floor class, and two other classes he ran, I walked away with a boatload of knowledge of things to try and what to do next. I can't wait to start implementing those.

The Expo

And finally we come to the expo floor.  Definitely bigger than in Orlando, and while the standard vendors were there (onOne, Nik), there were plenty of new vendors (Digimarc, 500px). I heard a few complaints from people that there wasn't as much schwag. I came away with several t-shirts, pens, a buffalo, and some trial software, so I'm not sure where they were looking honestly.  I enjoyed talking to the vendors, and sat through several demos from onOne and Nik, who both had announced new products at the show.

The other highlight of the expo floor, is the Westcott Shootout Booth. Picture four different photo bays, each with various backgrounds, and each with various models dressed up. The backgrounds change, the models change, the photographers keep shooting. Add in lighting instructors such as Erik Valind, and James Schmelzer talking to people about the lighting setups, and you've got a winner.  The bays were constantly crowded, and most people did the "shoot and leave" method to allow others in.  Some people camped out in the same spot, shooting the same pose, and the same angle for over 10 minutes, leading the rest of us to wonder, "why?"  In any case, it all worked out, and people got their shots.

One afternoon while one of the bays was empty, we had Jeff Tamagini come in and pose for us, to  hilarious results.

Jeff Tamagini at the Photoshop World Vegas Westcott Booth

The Best of the Rest

I'm going to conclude here by saying that while Photoshop World is advertised as classes and an expo, it's so much more. It's meeting new people who share similar interests. It's seeing new photographers and designers that you've never heard of before.  It's getting a portfolio review done even though you might be scared as to what they're going to say (mine was with Dave Black, whom I hoped to get, and it went great).  It's getting out of your comfort zone to try new things, with new people, and experience new experiences.  It's more than just an event.  DC is in six months, and I'll definitely be there.

Comments

Dave Clayton's picture

Hi Michelle

A great post-PSW follow up and pretty much how I felt after my visit last year. I just read William Beem's blog before this and he made some good points also - the one that gets me(which i agree with him)is why people bother going if all they do is moan about the smallest things. For example: So LightIt is only on the ipad? I'm going to invest in an iPad, more so now because NAPP are embracing the coolest technology.....and I don't even own a single speedlight for my D300S - I just love the content NAPP provides :)

If I had one complaint its that I wish the last day wasn't the last day but the next day - and I had to miss some good classes due to clashes but that's a minor thing as a lot of the content you could miss is or would be on Kelby Training. There's a good reason the 3000 odd people keep returning every 6 months - PSW changes to suit it's audience and listens to feedback. It was the third 'CS5' PSW so having the photography track so immensely populated by awesome photographers appeals to both sides of the fence - you can only watch so many tutorials about content aware fill and the puppet warp tool before you get a bit 'meh' - saying that - I love that Corey Barker has yet to pick up a camera - stay on design Corey, and that goes for Pete too. Photography in NAPP has all angles covered now ;o)
I look forward to meeting you in DC !!


John Swarce's picture
John Swarce

Michelle, great write-up. I like that you said what you didn't like, as well as the things you loved. A conference this huge can't be all things to everyone, but Scott and crew hit the ball out of the park in so many ways. I loved PSW Orlando and I wish I had known to say "hi" to you then. I might have picked up an official Ken Toney button! :)

I don't think I'll be able to make DC next year, but I plan to get to Vegas. I'll be sure to come over and say "hi" then.

--John


Theresa Jackson's picture

Michelle, you were everywhere. It was impossible to keep up with you. Great recap article about Photoshop World. I hope there is a way I can meet up with you in DC next year.


Ken Toney's picture
Ken Toney

Michelle, awesome blog about the conference. I agree with William, making friends is so important. I heard a few complaints about this or that but I guess that's expected. This years show was great and I feel it was an improvement and a blessing for me. Can't wait to see you guys at my table again! :)


Nancy Masse's picture

As one of the people you kinda sorta knew through social media at your first PSW,I can attest to how much you've grown and improved both in your photography and as a seasoned networker! =)

See you in Washington! =)


Jewelzdezine's picture

Michelle, great read. You are definitely an outgoing person. It was great hanging with you.


William Beem's picture

Michelle, you do a great job of getting out to meet people. Your ability to network with people is outstanding and it definitely showed during Photoshop World. You're right, there's no reason to think you can't make friends and have a good time during the conference. It's one of the top reasons I keep going back.


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