Photoshop World... Oh where to begin. It was everything and nothing I thought it would be. But that's vague isn't it? So let me blanket that statement by saying it was amazing. And honestly, this post probably should've been broken down into a couple smaller entries throughout the nearly week-long conference, but there simply wasn't time. PSW is just so huge! There's much to take in and I wanted to make the most of it, so blogging was last on my mind.
Now that the conference is over, I'll at least try to cover the most memorable stuff, and make this an interesting read without turning it into a James Michener saga. ;) First the high points.
1) I met Joe McNally!
Call me starstruck. I won't deny it. Joe is the one person I'd most hoped to meet while in Vegas. His work speaks for itself, but totally aside from his talent and/or achievements, he has always seemed to me a very humble and gracious person. Considering his celebrity status in the photographic industry, I think those are rare qualities and I have tremendous respect for people who exhibit them in spite of their fame.
Anyway it was the last day of the conference and I was standing in line for my morning shot in the arm (i.e. Starbucks). Next thing I know Joe is in line right behind me. A few minutes later some schmuck ahead of me tried to make a big show of buying him a coffee (making sure everyone heard it) and Joe politely declined... thee times. After witnessing that (and not wanting to make a fool of myself), I frantically tried to decide whether or not to say anything. Then I thought "Screw it." Extending my hand I turned to him and stammered something about just wanting to say hello and being able to brag later to my husband that I'd finally met the Joe McNally.
** Cringing now at my own clichéd approach. **
He was very cool though. He asked where I was from and we struck up a short conversation about Cheyenne Frontier Days, which he covered on assignment once. For him this whole exchange was probably part of just another day, but it was a moment I'll always remember... however cornball I may have come across.
2) The Art of Photography
If I could only offer one tip to anyone who is planning to attend Photoshop World for the first time, it would be go to the special events! Run, don't walk. Get a good seat and sit back to enjoy the show. I was on a tight budget, so I did not attend the After-Hours party, nor did I have the steam for Midnight Madness... but I DID go to the Art of Photography presentation and it was incredible.
To see the work of an entire panel of pros, hear their stories and get a sense of the blood, sweat and tears they so obviously put into their craft... it was incredibly moving.
It was also like a breath of fresh air. I walked away with a sense of being part of something bigger, and not so isolated as an artist. Photography can sometimes be a lonely pursuit - filled with a range of emotions from angst to exhilaration. I never realized professionals still dealt with these things as I do. It makes sense of course. We're all human. But that was a profound realization.
I got some great ideas from the presentation as well... things I'd never even considered trying or adding to my own work. So I'm definitely jazzed about that.
Now for the things I learned. Actually, it's more like a few random thoughts about the overall experience.
By the end of each day, I was worn out from carrying stuff around. It's amazing the things you end up collecting, especially if you go to the expo. The first day I was juggling the giant PSW workbook, an Adobe 25th anniversary commemorative T-shirt, my purse, a water bottle, a couple free posters I picked up, and my hoodie (the classrooms were FREEZING). If I'd had my laptop and/or camera with me (even consolidated into my Lowepro), I would've been an insufferable b**ch by the end of the day! The extra weight wasn't worth it.
There's a ton of information to digest at Photoshop World. You will never remember it all without some reference points. The workbook, nice as it is, just didn't cut it. I didn't even bother carrying it after the first day in fact. Instead I recommend taking an iPad or a small notebook to at least get the "Aha!" moments down.
Don't bring your camera (to class)
Sounds contradictory, right? I mean, it's Photoshop World! But sitting in a dim conference room all day, there's not much to shoot. With the other stuff I was towing around, I opted to leave my camera behind. By the third day though, I was panicky that I hadn't photographed anything (not counting a few quick snaps with my phone).
I recommend taking your camera on little excursions either during the long lunch break or after each day's sessions have ended. I spent a couple hours walking around and shooting on the last day, but I wish now I'd done more. It's a trek to and from the rooms (Mandalay Bay is enormous), but the alternative is schlepping gear throughout the day, when it's really not necessary.
Sleep when you're dead
Next time, I will absolutely be taking part in more of the social gatherings at PSW. I'm sure that's a big part of what brings people back year after year. Tired as I was, I'm sorry I missed out. My mom loves to say "You can sleep when you're dead." I'm with her on that, so I should've powered through.
That about sums it up! I learned a lot, ideas are flowing and I'm still a little overwhelmed by it all... but my heart is full. To be in such a large space with so many creative minds is something I'll never forget, and I'm tremendously grateful I finally got the chance to go.