The People You Meet at Photoshop World

I just finished my second Photoshop World conference.  Right now, my mind is spinning with ideas.  There are things I want to try and things that I want to write so I can share the experience.  Well, that and also to remember the experience.  I may need to come back to this and refresh my memory after daily life turns my memories into a casserole.

You meet a lot of people at Photoshop World and I'm going to share a small sample of those personalities here.  I wish I had thought of this idea before the last hour or so.  I would've worked on getting better portraits and including some other folks.  Maybe I can work on that if I attend the next Photoshop World in Las Vegas this fall.

Alan Hess:: I first “met” Alan online and I don't remember exactly how it came about.  Prior to this week, we had mostly conversed on Twitter.  Those conversations convinced me to try the Real World Concert Photography pre-conference session that Alan and Scott Diussa were teaching.  Alan photographs live bands for a living and he (& Scott) brought a wealth of information to the class.  It wasn't all fluff.  He told us what works, what doesn't work, and what sucks about photographing musicians in performance.  We kept bumping into each other during the show and I just decided he's a really great guy.  If you want to shoot live shows, take his class next time you go to Photoshop World.  You'll get the honest story.

Brad Moore:: I met Brad for the first time at Photoshop World in Las Vegas last fall, but I knew of him before that happened.  He was Joe McNally's assistant and then started working for Scott Kelby.  Of all the people in the photo industry, Brad was the only one that I wanted to make an effort to meet.  There are a lot of people who go to Photoshop World that are simply in awe of the instructors who teach there, and that's fine.  I was never one to really get “star struck” by a personality or celebrity, though.  The reason I wanted to meet Brad is because, quite simply, this guy is my hero.  He's a young man working his way through the photo industry and I admire him for that.  I know he's not the only one, but he's visible and I like to cheer him on and hope he succeeds.

Why?  When I was a kid in high school carrying around an Olympus OM-10, all I wanted to do was be a photographer.  I checked photo schools and was ready to go until I started getting into personal computers.  I had an aptitude for understanding them, programming them, and being creative with computers.  It was a new passion and my photography faded away.  While the IT business has been good to me, I've been promoted to the point where I'm no longer doing the things I was so passionate about.  It's become a bureaucratic endeavor.  When I see Brad and others like him, it makes me think about the path not taken.  Then I just want to see those who take that path succeed.  That's why I went out of my way to shake Brad's hand.  We didn't really get to talk much then or this time (he's working), but he remembered me and had a friendly smile whenever we crossed paths.  All the more reason to wish him the best in his career.  He's a nice guy.

Jack Reznicki:: I've heard this guy's name a few times, but never met him before this week.  My exposure to him was watching the Kelby Training courses he & Ed Greenberg taught on copyright, model releases, and other things photographers need to know.  I listened to a couple of his sessions where he discussed light and how to use it.  He gave a live demonstration at one event that really has my head full of some cool ideas to try out and, I hope, some mistakes to avoid.  At the end of one of his presentations, I briefly spoke with him about copyright registration (I've become a fanatic about it now).  Not only does Jack have a wonderful presentation style, but the man was genuinely friendly. A nice guy who knows his stuff and shares it with you.  There's not much better than that.

Jason “The Scriv” Scrivner:: My first exposure to Scriv was on Twitter.  I'd just posted something about meeting Vanelli at the airport and he warned about the interesting adventure that was about to befall me.  While I won't tell you that I met the guy in person, I saw the guy EVERYWHERE.  He's all over the place.  When I was trying to shoot the band at the Real World Concert pre-con, Scriv was on the stage with a tiny video camera on a stick (screwing up my shots).  He was on the Expo floor in a back-brace supporting a steadycam.  He was in my sessions recording video and seemed to be working all the time.  However, he also seemed to be loving it.

Jay “Fucking” Maisel:: People going to Photoshop World look up to their instructors and it shows.  A lot of those instructors look up to Jay Maisel.  That was enough to make me want to attend his talk.  That, and the fact that I was already comfortably seated in the front row of the room where he was going to speak.  Within the first couple of minutes, he dropped the F-Bomb and I knew that I was going to like this guy.  He speaks slowly, but thoughtfully.  He shared information and examples of the impact of the elements named in his course – light, color, and gesture.  I won't try to recreate it here.  I'll just say that it was a fucking great course.

Joe McNally:: Joe doesn't know me, but he probably thought I was stalking him in Las Vegas last fall.  I was on the Photo Safari and in every session he taught, and I was always right up front.  When he was giving a session on the Expo floor, I was there, too.  During his last session, he saw me again and just gave me that look for a moment – “Jesus, haven't you had enough yet?”  Not that he said anything, but I thought it was amusing.  This time, I only attended one of his sessions about life as a working photographer. Once again, I had a good seat already.  I saw Joe work with lights in Las Vegas and also his courses on Kelby Training.  This time it was just about learning about the hard knocks and why he does what he does.  He manages to teach you, tell you the truth, and be likable all at the same time.  You'll have plenty of chances to see and hear him at Photoshop World.  Just don't stalk him.

Larry Becker:: Larry is a businessman, and I mean that in a good way.  He's smooth, he's polished, and you just don't see him lose that impression or a good sense of humor at Photoshop World.  That's more than I could do.  He makes it all look smooth while things inevitably take a bit longer than they hoped, or while Scott Kelby shows good-natured mocking of Larry on large screens.  Larry takes it all in stride and makes it look easy.  It's probably not, though.  My guess is Larry is like that image of a duck that's smooth on the surface and paddling like hell underneath to keep it all going.

Moose Peterson:: This is a man who has a lot of information and he shares it. People know it and they are big fans of Moose.  However, some of those fans are going to come away a bit disappointed.  That's because Moose is a pretty honest guy and sometimes he tells you something you don't want to hear.  Deal with it.  During the Photo Safari last fall outside of Las Vegas, I was standing nearby when one of the participants approached Moose with a photographic problem and he wanted some help.  The moon was visible in the daytime sky and he wanted to include it as an element in his photograph, but it just wasn't working.  Moose told him right off he didn't have the equipment to shoot the moon, so forget it.  He elaborated about the 1600mm (or something absurdly large) that he used to shoot the moon and you're just not going to get it with that little thing.  Pick another subject and move along.

The man walked away deflated.  Moose was quite likely right and saved the guy a lot of wasted time.  The problem is that people approach Moose (and other instructors) mostly because they want to ask a question of their idol, rather than because they need to ask a question.  Of course, Moose definitely invited us to ask.  He wanted everyone in the group to ask at least one question.  We're there to learn.  That guy learned something, but not what he expected. I think Moose is a hell of a guy and I appreciate his ability to give a forthright answer.  You just need to be aware of that before you approach.  He's not insulting or dismissing you.  He's just giving a direct answer.

Munny:: You're going to see this little white, vaguely human-shaped toys on the Expo floor.  iStockPhoto brings them, along with a plethora of paint and accessories to decorate them.  I've never seen two that looked alike.  People get creative with these things and it seems to be one of the popular parts of the show.

RC Concepcion::  RC figures stuff out and shows you how easy it is to do it.  The thing is, it's probably not easy to figure out unless you spend a lot of time digging into problems.  That's what RC does.  He does the digging so you won't have to do it, and then he shares the easy path with a good attitude and a smile.  Before I ever saw him in person, I thought the dude was mean.  Seriously, some of the photo I'd seen of him looked like he just wasn't having a good day – ever.  Nothing in my experience could be further from that misconception I had of the guy.  Outside of Photoshop World, I also ran into him at a workshop in Tampa.  Even though he wasn't putting on the workshop, people were going up to him with their questions & problems.  RC was just knocking them out of the park with answers.  One after another, it seemed like he had all the answers and he delivered them with a soft voice, a smile and a sense of humor.  In addition to all of that technical knowledge, he had some killer photos on display at the APC booth.

Scott Kelby:: You're going to see Scott Kelby at Photoshop World.  You can't help it.  He's all over the place.  His band was playing at the Real World Concert pre-con.  He's in the keynote opening.  He's giving portfolio reviews.  He teaches classes.  He attends the parties.  He's in the closing session.  Per the photo I posted here, he's also meeting people and shaking hands.  The guy appears to be the same in person as you see in his videos or his blog.  What I like most, though, is that he doesn't overwhelm the event.  He gives the stage away to people who have great stuff to share and lets them shine.

Vanelli:: Scott Kelby made a blog post last fall before Photoshop World about Vanelli.  There was a simple warning – do not give this man your phone number.  Fast forward a bit – I'm in the line to get on my plane and this guy behind me asks to borrow my phone.  I'm looking closely and I realize he's the guy Scott warned us about.

The truth is that Vanelli is the friendliest person you're ever going to meet, and he's very aggressive about it.  He WILL be your friend (just ask Dave Cross in that photo I posted).  As much as anyone else, and perhaps even more, he is all over Photoshop World.  He's nice, he's friendly, he knows everyone or soon will.  I'm gad I met the guy. I've never seen him without a handshake and a smile.  He takes a joke well and gives them out, too.  Don't fear Vanelli when you go to Photoshop World.  Just know that you will meet him and he could kill you if he wasn't your friend.

Zack Arias:: I think this was his first Photoshop World as a speaker, but I could be wrong.  Like Jay Maisel, his was another name that I kept hearing about. As a guest on Scott Kelby's blog, he posted a video that, I think, is one of the most popular posts there.  At the time I saw the video, it seemed very esoteric.  He's popular, but I never really got into following the guy because I had enough people to follow:

I'm glad he showed up.  Before I ever sat in one of his sessions, I saw him roaming around in other sessions.  He walked by and gave me a nice “how you doing” kind of thing.  That was the beginning of Zack winning me over.  Without knowing much about him at all, I'd been under the perception that he was some kind of alternative prima donna.  Instead, the guy was nice and down to Earth.  I liked that.  Then I started seeing him around the conference, talking to people, walking the floor, etc.  I sat through a couple of his presentations, saw his work, and now I'm digging Zack, too.  If you get a chance, go listen to Zack and watch his presentation.  It's pretty cool.

Laurie Excell::  Laurie is one of the people I didn't think to get in a photo, but she was pretty nice on both of my trips to this conference.  She was at the Real World Concert pre-con and I also saw her briefly in the portfolio room as I was exiting my session.  We spent a little bit of time chatting and she just seemed very easy to approach.  She probably doesn't have a clue who I am because I just started talking without the forethought to introduce myself.  It didn't put her off, though.  She was just as warm & friendly in a conversation with a stranger as anyone I've ever known.

That's my list. It's not complete, but these are the people who just seemed to be there whenever I looked up.  Your list of people will probably be different, but I'm willing to bet some of these people will be on it. Without a doubt, Photoshop World is one of the friendliest collections of people I've been around.  I don't know how they do it, but I just don't run into bad vibes or attitudes at this show.  It's probably a credit to the people who run the show. This seems to be an event that is as popular for its social aspect as it is for the information and opportunities it provides.  That's pretty rare.

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