Photoshop World Review

Moose Peterson, JP Caponigro, Jay Maisel and Vincent Versace
Copyright 2010 Steve Black

As I mentioned previously, I made a last minute decision to head to Photoshop World in Las Vegas last week.  I’d never been before – and actually only open Photoshop a few times a year.  Contrary to its name, PSW is actually much, much more than just Photoshop.  The courses cover everything from Photoshop to Lighting, Photography, other Adobe products, Social Media and Lightroom.  I figured I could easily find enough classes to keep me busy (and how right I was).

Over the course of 3 days, I took well over a dozen classes, including (a handful of my favorites):

  • Stuff you need to know to be a photographer by Zack Arias
  • Lightroom for wedding / portrait photographers by David Ziser
  • Big Light from small flashes and Bringing out the big guns by Joe McNally
  • Live food shoot by Joe Glyda
  • Romancing the landscape, camera & craft by Moose Peterson
  • 10 ways to make LR work for you by Julieanne Kost
  • LR killer tips by Scott Kelby

Joe McNally doing his thing in his Small Flash workshop
Copyright 2010 Steve Black


One of the great things about PSW is the variety and caliber of the people you meet.  Everyone from professional photographers to graphic artists to cinematographers.  Massive variety – and the openness and kindness of everyone was consistent throughout.  Everyone came to learn and have a good time, and as someone attending solo, it was amazingly easy to meet others.  Many thanks to RC for helping get me a ticket to the House of Blues show (and generally being a great guy – though I’m guessing my bribe of his favorite Caribou Coffee helped!) and to everyone else I met along the way.

The instructors were absolutely amazing – an incredibly kind, friendly and open group of people.  It is very clear they all LOVE what they do – helping people and going out of their way to make it a great experience. From Larry Becker taking the time to chat with me after the ‘newbie’ introduction to Scott Kelby showing up at an unofficial tweetup – it is clear these people are the real deal.  I’ve added a number of people to the list of those I’d like to take future classes with – and have exponentially expanded the websites I follow each day.

Stuff you need to know

Copyright 2010 Steve Black

As I mentioned earlier, I rarely use Photoshop.  I’d certainly consider myself an amateur with it – and the few more Photoshop-focused courses I sat in on were clearly above my level (great thing about PSW – you can leave and head next door to another great class with no problem!).  I still managed to pick up my fair share of Photoshop tips as well as a ton for Lightroom (side note: my favorite – right click on any collection and choose ‘set as target collection’ and then ‘B’ sends an image to that collection instead of the quick collection.  Awesome! Thanks Julieanne Kost for that one.).  I’ll certainly be using Photoshop more in the coming weeks and months than I did before – and using Lightroom much more powerfully.

Outside of technical knowledge picked up on Photoshop and Lightroom – I found the most useful part of the classes to be the ability to get inside each of the instructor’s heads and understand their thought process a bit more.  Joe McNally is great at letting you know how he approaches a lighting challenge, Moose Peterson shared his approach to thinking about images before and during retouching and Zack Arias did an amazing job sharing his thoughts in his ‘Stuff you need to know to be a photographer’ course.  A few key ‘creative’ takeaways that are already impacting how I think about photography (obvious, I know, but sometimes that’s exactly what I need to hear):

There is no right answer or approach to post processing.  They key is knowing what story you are telling the audience before you start.

This isn’t easy for anyone.  Nobody takes the perfect shot every time.  But the greats have incredible tenacity and perseverance.  Stick with it.

Know why you do what you do.  Challenge yourself.  Push yourself to grow.  Give yourself some personal projects (Joe Glyda had the house in tears with his…)


The expo floor was full of great vendors.  Plenty to see and do – ranging from classes, tutorials and playing with various gear.  So much fun, that I came home the new owner of: NIK’s upcoming HDR software, an Intuos 4 tablet from MPEX and a credit with the super nice folks at Artistic Photo Canvas.  I was really impressed with their prints, but also how genuinely helpful they are.  I spent a few minutes talking with Melanie Turner from APC and she made a great impression on how much they care about quality and customer service.  Can’t wait to order my first print from them!  They even gave away one of Alan Hess‘s signed prints (pictured below with the winner: William Beem).


Copyright 2010 Steve Black

A few other expo highlights:

Cory Baker durring Photoshop Wars – a head-to-head six-minute battle of Photoshop skills


Crowds shooting the models on the Expo floor


RC celebrating victory in a Photoshop Wars battle


One of the models in the Wescott Booth

All images copyright 2010 Steve Black

Would I go again?

If you haven’t been to Photoshop World before – you need to go.  Well worth the price of admission from what you’ll learn (numerous times I found myself thinking ‘if I’d have just come for this class alone, it would have been worth it’) – and an added bonus of meeting tons of great people.  I don’t think I’ll make it a habit of going to every one  - as I want to make sure I put everything into practice before I head back.  That being said, I could easily see it becoming an regular event – especially if I take photography beyond its current role in my life (purely a passionate hobby for now).

Things I’ll do for next time

Brush up on the various instructors in advance (watch their stuff on Kelby Training, etc.) – to know who I want to see and which courses will be most helpful.

Come prepared with more specific questions for the instructors.

Get a list of people that I want to meet and follow through with it.

And in case you didn’t believe it was a fun time, check out instructor and amazing photographer Vincent Versace rapping at the final presentation:

Vincent Versace rapping at Photoshop World from Steven Black on Vimeo.

Hope you found this helpful, and let me know if you’re thinking about going and have any questions!


See the rest of my photos from PSW here

To see my review of David duChemin’s Iceland – A Monograph, click here

2 Responses to “Photoshop World Review”

  1. Glad you enjoyed PSW. This was my third one in a row, so that ought to give you an idea how much I like it. It’s the first time I ever won anything, though. I’ll be signing up soon for the next one here in Orlando.

  2. Michael says:

    Yeah that sounds like a blast Steve, I need to check out all the locations. Thanks for dropping by today, I need to get caught up with your blog too, looks like a lot of nice reading for me… well done.

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