This is a week of advancing your skills and hanging out with other photographers, ranging from absolute beginners to certified geeks. All of the seminars are taught by highly-qualified instructors, and there are additional demonstrations and classes on the expo floor. Don’t be fooled by the name, there is much more to this conference than Photoshop. This year, there are seven different tracks to choose from. But don’t worry, you can mix and match them any way you want to maximize your learning experience. You get a book with lesson outlines from every seminar, even the ones you didn’t/couldn’t attend. The conference lasts for three days (this week’s schedule is here), but they always tack on an additional day for pre-conference seminars, too. We recommend you add one of these 4-6 hour, in-depth sessions to your schedule and make it a solid four days. If you count the parties as networking events (and we do), you can easily find yourself doing 12 hours a day of great learning.
For our pre-conference sessions, Mark attended the Adobe Certified Expert preparation session. Since we do some of the education in our local photography group, we figure it is a worthwhile investment. I chose to spend six hours with David Ziser, one of the nation’s top wedding photographers. He has been making a living from weddings, portraits, and bat/bar mitzvahs for almost 50 years, so you know he must be doing something right. I have always admired his work; regularly read his blog; and have his book, Captured by the Light. (Besides, he provided lunch!)
After some pre-wedding discussions about preparations and techniques, David brought in a couple of models for a live wedding shoot, and we got down to work. Most attendees were carrying cameras, but this was more about observing his methods than a model shoot. I managed to shoot a few shots, but they are mostly to illustrate the behind-the-scenes situation. We had live-view coverage to see what his camera saw, from his angle, with his lighting. We went out into the Mandalay Bay hotel to shoot a formal portrait or two and then onto a bus to a local church.
At the church, David walked us through finding the best angles and backgrounds – things to do before the wedding, if possible – to better prepare you when the actual ceremony occurs. He demonstrated his preferred lighting set-ups and some posing techniques.
After going through numerous scenarios and photographs, we moved outside into the bright, afternoon sun of Las Vegas. Unfortunately, the photographer doesn’t get to pick the time of day a wedding occurs. You can’t quit shooting a wedding just because the light is horrible. He demonstrated a couple of solutions to minimize the problem of photography when the sun is directly overhead, including high-sync flash.
If you look at my shot, you may think the bride’s photo would be ruined by all the nonsense in the background. She has a McDonald’s sign right over her head! But you can eliminate most of those distractions with a wide-open aperture and by choosing the proper position as you take the shot. Here is David’s position for a beautiful, full-length photo of the bride, without the messy background.
It was a great seminar, with a chance to talk directly to a master photographer. Questions were varied and plentiful, but he would answer them and demonstrate solutions.
Today, we spent the first day at opening ceremonies, the Adobe Keynote (lots of news there), and a full day of classes and expo floor prowling. I’m writing this late, but I just returned from the after-hours party, at the House of Blues. I’ll leave it to Mark to wrap up the rest of the week in his next blog. As always, this Photoshop World was worth the effort and cost. Start your planning to join us at the next Photoshop World, in Atlanta, Ga., 7-10 April 2014. You’ll have fun and learn new skills.
++++++ Speaking of photography fun, don’t forget to sign up for the Worldwide Photowalk, on 5 October. For the third year, Mark and I are leading the walk in Colonial Williamsburg, Va., at 9 a.m. You can get more information on all the walks around the world and register here. The registration deadline is 23 September.