(graphic from KelbyTraining)

This was my first experience with a Photoshop seminar, and it was pretty mindblowing. For those of you who have never seen an expert go completely bonkers with a mindbogglingly-complicated program such as Photoshop, you’re missing out. If you’re struggling with Photoshop and find yourself sitting in a corner mumbling, “adjustment layers and masks are so hard, I wish I would just die!” — this seminar is for you.

On January 27, this was an all-day event held in the (massive) Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City.

They told us to show up early because seating would get swallowed up fast. When I got there, it was four rooms expanded into one, and it had four (or five?) rows of tables that ran the entire length. Everybody else apparently thought the same as myself and we were spreading out leaving empty seats between us. As more and more people kept coming in, all the latecomers sat where they could. What I thought would be the edge of the crowd soon became the middle. Being mildly claustrophobic, I grabbed an unused chair and moved to the back wall thinking nobody would find me there — but about a dozen more followed my lead. By the time we got started, it was standing room only, and I’d guess there were easily 300 people in that one room.

Photoshop nerds, lol

Our teacher that day was Corey Barker, one of KelbyTraining’s Photoshop/Illustrator wizards. And I mean that — he was slinging around digital magic voodoo witchcraft like I’d never seen before!

First and foremost, I consider myself a photographer and therefore tend to limit myself to certain parts of Photoshop. That is, I rarely “transform” my layers, and never use the 3D feature. I have only experimented with the artistic filters, and I didn’t even know Photoshop had a “step and repeat” function. From my point of view, Photoshop had been getting quite bloated over the years, and I was beginning to wonder who could possibly need all of these features.

I have since stopped wondering.

There wasn’t just one thing that was impressive in this seminar, it was the package deal. It wasn’t just that he could make sparkly light effects twist around a model, or extrude a ring of fire into 3D and put some spotlights on it — it was that he could do ALL OF THOSE THINGS. He wasn’t following a script either. I asked, and he had this entire routine memorized. (He said he had done it 12-15 times over the past year or so.) I was becoming impressed with the person displaying the very massive Photoshop skills that I was there to learn in the first place.

You might think, “well, I can watch a few online tutorials and get the same information for free that you just paid $100 for.” Yes you can. You can also download music from iTunes directly to your phone instead of paying nearly $100 to go to a concert, but you would be deluding yourself if you believed that those MP3s would be giving you the same experience as the concert.

Now that brings me to the next thing I learned — the company he works for is full of people who make their living by going “on tour” teaching others these crazy things that they’ve figured out. Why don’t public schools operate that way?

Heck, why don’t more computer nerds operate that way? I had never before seen a group of people get excited and applaud upon seeing somebody twiddle a couple sliders on a computer screen. Computers don’t have to be these boring beige things that are used by boring beige people. They can be magical, and this seminar proved it.

Anyway, KelbyTraining and the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) have these seminars all over the place, but their big one is called Photoshop World. It’s an annual 3-day event, and this year it will be in Orlando, Florida. (only $350 / round trip… I checked, I had to.)

In conclusion, you may see some little graphics appear in future blog posts with some crazy effects all over them. I’m still buzzing from all the stuff I learned that I have to use it all!