Imagine a world where photographers, illustrators and designers all peacefully co-exist. That’s Photoshop World. On September 7-9th, attendees were exposed to three days of fun. There were more than 100 sessions, 35 instructors, contests, portfolio reviews, a keynote session and a huge trade show plus parties and networking.
The semi-annual PSW is held in the spring somewhere on the east coast, and for the last seven years, the summer session has been in Vegas. I’ve had the honor and privilege of attending the last four Vegas PSWs. The last two years (including this one) have been extra special to me because I was invited to be on the faculty. Teaching at the world’s biggest Photoshop Conference can be a little intimidating – even for me. When you arrive and look at those big conference rooms you realize people paid real money to hear you speak and you better deliver!
Fortunately, the staff at Kelby Media Group are totally amazing in every way and make it a fun experience. I’ve never seen such a group of dedicated, talented and committed people anywhere. Watching them work is a true gift. It’s very clear that they love what they do. It’s also very clear that they love working at Kelby Media Group and that they love each other. It makes for a great dynamic and is fun to be around.
From Scott Kelby, his wife and the rest of the management team on down, they seemed completely dedicated to making this show a hit and there’s no doubt they did just that.
The show also starts with the famous “Pre-Cons.” These are pre-conference sessions, often involving a photo-workshop-like feel where students actually do hands-on projects. That night, there’s a lovely instructor-dinner – graciously hosted by Scott Kelby and then the next morning the show takes off in earnest with dozens and dozens of sessions and great teachers.
Next up comes the keynote and this year, for the first time ever, it was live streamed over the Web. The theme for these keynotes is always fun and this year it was a fashion show. I wonder why they didn’t ask me to model? :)
Over the last four years, the show has continuously added more and more photography-related content. The speakers covered everything from what you would expect, such as Photoshop and Lightroom to things you might not expect such as studio lighting and video with a HDSLR. The faculty (with the possible exception of yours truly) is without question top-notch. I was lucky enough to spend time with a few of the standouts such as my friend Rich Harrington, who is one of the best and purist teachers you’ll ever see; Nicole Young, who I have helped mentor years ago and who know could probably mentor me – she has TWO books already with Peachpit and a growing following; My pal Vince LaForet was there one day to teach HDSLR video; Eddie Tapp – Photoshop genius in-chief had sessions; and the “Photoshop Guys” – Messrs. Kelby, Kloskowski and Concepcion were all over the place and each of them can teach me more in 30 minutes than most people can in a month.
No Photoshop World experience is complete without spending time talking to the man – he almost needs no introduction – he’s simply referred to as The Vanelli! He’s the PSW version of “The Stig.” (In truth – just one of the nicest, greatest guys on the planet and a fixture at PSW.)
The Mandalay Bay Hotel and Conference Hall is the setting for PSW in Vegas and it’s a lovely conference facility. It’s large, but clean and well-organized. From a speaker’s perspective, it’s a great place to teach since there are plenty of bathrooms, a secret place to valet park that is VERY close to the Conference Center (sorry local’s secret!) and access to great restaurants etc. Team Kelby always has a very nice speaker ready-room with great food and company and part of the compensation for being a speaker (at least from my perspective) is unfettered access to some of the most talented people on the planet in between sessions.
Speaking of sessions – I taught two sessions in the business/social media tracks. They were well-attended and full of very upbeat, happy, eager to learn students. It was fun. And while the Conference Track was full of great stuff, I can’t forget to mention the show floor. It seems to get bigger every year – despite the recession. And there were almost as many learning opportunities on the show floor as there were in the conference rooms. Peachpit had a theater as did Adobe and Kelby Media also organized another free theater on the floor. Each of these were staffed by the best of the best.
I particularly enjoyed listening to my friend – photojournalist Stacy Pearsall teach, as well as Lightroom expert Rob Sylvan.
There were lots of interesting booths on the show floor too. BorrowLenses.com was showing off their new service that allows you to order lenses and have them shipped to a local camera store – Vegas is the first test market. OnOne was showing off new software as were my friends from Nik Software. Manfrotto had lots of cool gear to drool over. Adobe was showing off its new product called Carousel – a cloud-based photo management solution. Bay Photo had some very cool metal prints on display. I also enjoyed getting up-close looks at the new Epson 2000 and 3000 printers which deliver amazing prints for very little money. A company called IT Supplies has metal paper that will work in inkjet printers so you can make your own metal prints. It blew my mind.
Like all conferences, one of the best reasons to attend is the networking. And from every nook and cranny in the hotel to the main show floor, you could see people gathering and sharing. One of the things I like most about these shows is getting to meet some of you who seem to really appreciate the hard work we do at Photofocus. I was so happy to finally get to shake the hands of many in my audience. It’s always nice to know the stuff I am doing here is actually helping someone. I consider it the best part of my job.
Besides all the things I’ve mentioned (and yes I have barely scratched the surface because there are other rituals including Midnight Madness, Photoshop help desks and Photoshop Wars – I need some rest) Rich Harrington and I spent time everywhere from the show floor to the famed Las Vegas Motor Speedway creating content for you that will appear both here and on 3exposure.com. So stay tuned for that later.
In conclusion, I just have to say that the Kelby Media team including CEO Scott Kelby, COO Dave Moser and their supporting staff are as sharp as can be. They’re also as nice as can be and dedicated to their belief that they can help people get the most out of their visual media experiences.
One of the reasons that Photoshop World is always a must-attend event for me is that the Kelby Media team are a class act and they do EVERYTHING with military precision. In fact the word “class” gets overused but it applies to all aspects of Photoshop World and the people who organize and administer it.
If you’ve never gone, do yourself a favor and make plans to attend the next event, March 24 in Washington, D.C. It’s informative, fun and affordable given the incredible amount of information you can learn. I really enjoyed my time this year and hope to be asked back again sometime. Highly recommended.