Editor’s Note: Photoshop World is next week. We’re holding a reader’s breakfast there and some other events you’ll have to ask about in person.

Ive written a version of this article several years ago but I want to update and share why going to Photoshop World has changed my life. All I wanted to do was learn and better my craft. I never in a million years knew what would happen next.

I believe it was 2010 that I came across a Photoshop World ad on Facebook. Im not one for ads at all but this caught my attention. It was in the spring time and I followed the link of the ad to the Photoshop World website. I read all about PSW and was excited. At the time I was a student and when I saw the student price of attendance I knew I had to figure out a way to go. I eventually signed up and made plans to attend Photoshop World later that fall. I had friends who lived in Vegas and worked out a way to stay at their place during PSW.

Photoshop World came around and alone I went. I was overwhelmed with so many classes and was soaking it all in. The amount of learning was almost too much. Of course this is in a good way. Classes in every aspect of photography, Photoshop and Lightroom filled my days and I was in heaven. I was learning more in those three days than I was learning in a semester of school.

I found myself wandering the trade show on one of the days. I came across a booth called Blinkbid A women by the name Alyse was manning the booth. Somehow we ended up in conversation about chickens. I have no idea how this conversation came about but we both had the common fact we both owned backyard chickens. If you ever meet owners of backyard chickens you will be surprised on the excitement that comes in finding that common ground. Our fun conversation also led to what I do and was aspiring to do. My background in film came about and she mentioned I should hang out with her until Lou Lesko came back. Lou does a variety of things in commercials and photography as well as owns Blinkbid.

Lou and I hit things off right away and little did I know how that moment would forever change everything Im doing today. Lou invited me to dinner and asked who I was with. When I mentioned I came to Vegas alone, he had such a confused look on his face. I ended up spending quite a bit of time getting to know Lou and Alyse that week. Our friendship via text and email stayed strong over the next year.

I’m grateful for that friendship because over the next year my marriage was finally coming to an end. One day I came home to find all the locks changed on my house. I had been controlled to the point that I didn’t have friends or family to rely on. I didn’t even have a debit card or access to money. I did have Lous phone # and I sent him a text in panic wondering what I should do. Lou put me on a plane to L.A. that day and set me up in his house in L.A. that he owns. He provided me cash and employment to be Media Director for an HDSLR expo at the LA film school. I had managed to get Creative Cow to come out and set up a booth. They brought out Richard Harrington to teach some classes. This was where I also assisted Vincent LaForet in his workshop. So many connections happened and those connections are still creating paths for me today.

Photoshop World was coming around again and I signed up for Richard Harringtons DSLR pre-con. I made myself known to Richard and ended up winning the editing contest for the class. A couple weeks later I found myself introducing Richard in the classes he taught at the HDSLR Expo. Richard left one of his cameras in a classroom after the last day of the expo. I called him and drove out to LAX to deliver the camera. Richard was so grateful that he gave me a few of his books and asked me if I was going to NAB. Truthfully, I didn’t even know what NAB was and just said that I didn’t know if I was going or not. NAB is National Association of Broadcasting. Basically, its anything to do with the film, television, radio and all the products that support those industries. He told me to reach out as NAB gets closer and he will get me a pass.

The first thing I did when I was home later that night was search all about NAB. I knew I had to make back to Vegas in the spring.

After the Expo at the film school, I made my way back to Utah to finalize my divorce and work on getting my life back together. I lost everything in that divorce. Im sure theres many who understand the stress and toll divorce can take on a life. So many factors in play that Im luckily Im still alive today.

I reached out to Richard and was all set to go to NAB. The problem was I only had enough money to drive down there. I didn’t have money for food or hotel. I stayed on my heroin addicted friends couch and I packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I had no idea how I was getting home but I knew with every fiber of my being that I had to be at NAB.

NAB was huge and amazing. So many people, so many products and great classes. I run into Richard and hes flustered. I ask, What can I do to help?

Next thing I know, I have cash in my hand, I have a hotel room and my life has a path to health and work doing what I love.

I can write so much more about the snowballing effect that keeps going and going all because I made the one decision to attend Photoshop World. My work with Photofocus, with SmugMug, books Ive worked on, and many more events have all been possible because I was brave enough to attend a workshop out of state alone. My future is wide open because I opened those doors. My only purpose was to learn more.

The relationships that continue today have only strengthened who I am and provides inspiration to keep working my best to get better. I may not be as good as I want right now, I may have taken a longer road to getting on my feet but I look back and find strength in how far Ive come.

Come out to Photoshop World. Meet new people, learn more about your craft. I know Ill be there as well as many other Photofocus authors. Im going to attend classes, help teach classes and most of all keep opening those doors to expand my world for the better. If you are coming to Photoshop World next month, come find me, say hi. I’d love to meet you.

Even if its not PSW, take that step and go to a workshop, go to a trade show. Get involved in your local photography groups. Many have online social media groups. Keep an eye out for photowalks or even better, start one if you need to. Use that desire to learn and better your craft. You never know how it will change the course of your life for the better.

One last piece of advice: Be Genuine in who you are! I can’t stress that enough. Don’t go with the mindset of “Look at me.” Go with a genuine attitude of learning and growing. Be genuine in all your actions. That will get your farther than pushing business cards into everyone’s hands. When I first went, I never even could afford to have business cards. Let others actually get to know you for who you are. If I could teach one networking tool, it’s to be you! Let others see why they want to work with you. We all want to be around people we like. Pushing cards and being fake nice doesn’t get you very far. Most of all, have fun.

In closing here’s a fun group picture of photographers taken by Photofocus contributor Levi Sim at last years Photoshop World. I’m betting some of you can name a few of the fun photographers in this picture.