It is the end of another great Photoshop World (PSW) conference, and I have been thinking over the past few days about what I would write for a show wrap up. The 2012 Spring event was held in Washington DC during the cherry blossom festival–such great timing by the NAPP organization. While this is my fourth time to attend a Photoshop World, it is my  first time to attend the event on the east coast. When you live in Seattle going to the east coast is a long flight, so I have always opted for Las Vegas in the past. With the show in DC this spring, I just couldn’t pass on come out to such a great location.

There are a lot of things to do at PSW, and it reminded me of my first visit to the Smithsonian Museum when I was in 8th grade. On that trip, the tour guide said that you couldn’t see everything the Museums had in their archives even you if you went everyday to the various museums when they were open. They just had too much stuff to see and there wan’t enough time to see everything. PSW is sort of like that. You think that you have a plan and enough time to see everything, but once it is over you realize there just wasn’t enough time for everything. To say that you have full days is an understatement. Between classes, photo walking, catching up with friends, meeting new friends, after hours events like tweet ups and Midnight Madness, you will be busy.

I started off with a pre-con the day before PSW with the amazing Moose Peterson and Joe McNally on their Photo Safari. Moose and team always do a great job of finding great locations and people to photograph. This year was a group of people who are Civil War reenactors. They were generous open and wonderful to photograph. Joe setup a location lighting studio and so we go to work on our McNally portraits. I now have a growing collection of images that Joe setup for us to photograph. While they will never be in a portfolio since it is Joe’s setup, it is great to have these photos and learn from Joe about he and why he sets up the lights the way he does. He really is a master of the language of light.

Moose was great and generous as always. He is willing to answering any question (except those about the D4 which he deferred to his friend Kevin 🙂 ) or share one of his stories from adventures in photography. It helps keep everyone motivated and brainstorming new and better ways to photograph. I have over the years learned so much about photography and finding your passions in what you photograph from Moose that I know I’ll never be able to repay him for the kind words, encouragement and support. I never would have gotten to know Moose if we hadn’t meet over those first few PSW adventures. Reason enough alone to attend a PSW.

Once the conference got rolling, Scott and company treated us to a wonderful election theme for the keynote with negative campaign ads, a Tina Fey worthy Sarah Palin impersonator who could see the White House from her hotel room, to the selection of the Photoshop Parties candidate for President. Then Adobe showed us some of the great new things they have been up to over the past few years. While I am very impressed with some of the changes in Lightroom 4, they have some amazing work they are doing in Photoshop  CS6 on the desktop and Photoshop Touch on the tablet interfaces. The next few years are going to be amazing.

The classes were great as always. With the introduction of Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS6, even older familiar classes seemed new and fresh. However, for me it is not the topics so much as it is the instructors. While I already talked about the amazing Moose and Joe. Scott Kelby has put together such an amazing collection of instructors for the conference. Learning from Gregory Heisler and Jay Maisel about how light moves us to what it means to be an artist from Joel Grimes to inspiration from Lindsay Adler and the impact of photography from Moose with his wildlife photography, it is hard to find the time to see everyone. I attended classes on techniques and marketing from John Paul Caponigro, RC Conception, Russell Brown, Julieane Kost, Jermey Cowart, Lesa Snider, Matt Kloskowski and a long list of other amazing presenters. As in the past, I found myself at the end of the day hearing about sessions I didn’t get to attend which set the seed for attending the next PSW. And of course there is always Midnight Madness, where they guarantee you won’t learn a thing about Photoshop…and they are right.

I think like many people, my initial attraction to Photoshop World was all about the education–a lot of it really fast. But now, it is less about the classes and more about the open, sharing and giving community that has developed at PSW. I really like that PSW is a chance to see and reconnect with people that I haven’t seen in a while. We get to catch-up, share, laugh, and learn together. Those connections extend though out the year with phone calls, trips to visit and lots of online back and forth. That community keeps me motivated and pushes me to be a better artist everyday.

At my first PSW four years ago, I came down to the event in Las Vegas without knowing anyone. When I came home, I had a few new friends and got a chance to meet many of the photographers whose work I had followed for years. The people where all amazing. The instructors were generous. The staff was absolutely awesome, and the people attending  PSW were fun, supportive and caring people. I knew after that first year that attending again would be a reoccurring event for me. It is one of the ways that I reconnect with old friends, see amazing works and recharge my inspiration. This year was no different. There are just amazing people at PSW across the board.

So in the end DC didn’t disappoint. I was able to say thanks again to all my mentors in person. Got to hang out and shoot with friends like RC, Pete, Ryan, Nicolesy, Brian x2, Julie, Johaness and Gary. There was time to meet new friends like Kathy, Rob, Mike, and lots of others who I’ll continue to connect with online and at the next PSW. So in the end, I had a great time again and am looking forward to Vegas in the fall. If you are attending be sure to look me up when you get into town. If you haven’t ever been you should give it a try. You can find out information about the conference here. Oh and in case you missed my collation of quotes from day 2 you can find those here.