Thursday, October 8, 2009

Learning With Rock Stars!

As my plane lifted off the ground and we winged our way up the Southern California coastline, the words "jewel of the coast" came to mind. San Diego is so incredibly gorgeous and on this picture perfect day, I drank it all in until the plane headed inland. I was on my way to Vegas that day to attend the Photoshop World Conference at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. I was anticipating learning a lot, but I had no idea how much there would be for my brain to soak up!

It had been miserably hot in San Diego, so I was concerned that Vegas would be even hotter, but it turned out to be perfectly lovely as my mom would say. Vegas had changed hugely since I was last there and I could easily see why it is called a playground for adults. The hotels are huge! And they are decorated with themes like "Paris" and "New York, New York." At night the strip sparkles like the costumed dancers in the nightly shows. It's magical! And if you don't pay too much attention to those that have had a bit too much to drink who are acting like fools, it's not half bad.

But I was not there to play, I was there to learn along with 3,000 - 4,000 other photographers, designers, and printers. The lineup of instructors was like a who's who in the world of Photoshop and photography. They are rock stars in the photographer's eyes and it was incredibly exciting just to be in the same room with them.

Scott Kelby, who started the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) almost twenty years ago is a great teacher and I took full advantage of his workshops. He focused on retouching portraits so I was able to pick up some great tips. I also learned some fantastic shortcuts and new to me tips from John Caponigro who happens to be from San Diego.

Since my goal as a photographer is to give my clients the best possible portraits, I was very happy to sit in as these "rock stars" shared how to do my job better and easier. For awhile now I've been learning on-line at the Kelby training site where so many of the instructors teach. One of my favorites is Joe McNally who, like Scott Kelby, is very funny and very good at sharing concepts in a way that I can understand. So when McNally asked for a volunteer who was wearing white to come up on stage and 'model' for a lighting demonstration, I shot my hand up in the air. And since I was sitting pretty close to the stage, he picked ME! I am sooo glad I decided to wear my white blouse that day.

It was great fun having McNally 'shoot' me. He joked with me, told the crowd that I had beautiful eyes, and in the process of working with him for a few minutes I actually learned quite a bit. Photography is not an exact science, and when McNally's photos didn't come out the way he anticipated, I felt very encouraged. If the big guns still have to try a second and a third time to get the result they want, then I won't feel so discouraged when my photography doesn't go exactly the way I want it to the first time.

I still can't believe that Joe McNally took my picture, well, quite a few pictures. If you follow NASCAR, it's like Jimmy Johnson inviting you to have a driving lesson in his race car. It's huge! A woman stopped me in the bathroom after the class and said, "It's too bad you didn't get to see the photos Joe took of you." The way he had me standing I couldn't see the giant screens. I asked her if they were really terrible. "No!" she said, "They were really good." Boy, I wish I had been able to see them and even more I wish I could have had copies of them. Can you imagine the bragging rights I'd have? I'm still excited thinking about it today.

Next time more about Photoshop World and my little challenge to myself at night on the Vegas strip.

Now go forth and try try again without getting discouraged.

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