Photography & Photoshop

Photoshop World – A Rookie’s View

I was going to entitle this post “PSW – A Rookie’s View” but then I changed it because I decided that PSW was too insider-ish. If there is one thing I am not, it is an insider. I have no idea where the inside is, never been anywhere near it.

The Photoshop World conference (or PSW) is put on by an organization called NAPP – National Association of Photoshop Professionals – people who actually make money using Photoshop. And here’s where things go awry. I’m not a professional, not even close. I don’t even have Photoshop (yet). I have Photoshop Elements and I’m not even proficient at that. But not being skilled or qualified has never stopped me from jumping in with both feet, so why should this be any exception.

First and foremost, the reason I went is because I wanted to spend some time with Dawn whom I met at She Speaks earlier in the year. Dawn writes My Home Sweet Home, does blog design, photography, manages several sites, has 8 children which she home schools and she does it all without breaking a sweat. She inspires me. When I got home from the conference AD asked me if I learned anything from her, you know, like time management. And oh how I laughed at that joke as you might well imagine.

The other reason I went is that I’m a pretty quick study, and I figured I’d pick up something. And I did. I knew enough of the terminology that instead of being completely lost, I was inspired to figure out a way to learn more and learn faster. I left the conference jazzed by the endless possibilities for creativity at my fingertips. At the core of my being is a story teller and I’ve done that through painting and writing and now I see photography and Photoshop as another way for me to tell the stories of my life.

Scott Kelby and all the instructors were amazingly “normal” – they all seemed like maybe someone you might know from your neighborhood, that is if your neighbors are incredibly funny and world class professional photographers. Even the guy teaching gray scale. I especially loved Lesa Snyder-King, not just because she’s wore a Star Trek mini-dress to teach her class, but because her class focused on using Photoshop to turn everyday photographs into works of art. As a studio artist, that kind of floats my boat. Lesa’s got a book coming out soon and I’ll try get one for y’all for a give away because I know you would totally want it, especially you digiscrappers.

The other thing about all the instructors is that they were all so generous and free with their knowledge – they don’t believe in secret recipes and I really like that. They all are genuinely interested in teaching others about what they love, sharing the knowledge and that makes for good teachers.

All in all, even though based on my skill level, I probably had no business being at the conference, I’m glad I went. I learned a lot and came away with a lot of learning material, ideas and inspiration and will probably try to go again next year. Hopefully by then, I’ll understand what a channel is and why there are ten.

And now to reward you for listening to me blather on endlessly about Photoshop, I leave you with this mediocre photograph that I took earlier in the summer. My mother is always growing something beautiful. Her fence is perpetually lined with flowers and vegetables and other delightful things. And that’s the story behind this photo.

15 thoughts on “Photoshop World – A Rookie’s View

  1. I do not think the word “mediocre” belongs anywhere in any post that is remotely close to you–written by you–about you–or about anything you have managed to touch. You do not seem AT ALL mediocre in any way, shape, or form.

    So says me.

    Glad you had fun, and I love your Momma’s pink rose.

  2. Trust me on this Roxanne – when you come away from Photoshop World having seen astoundingly beautiful photographs, you come to a clearer understanding of mediocre. But! Photoshop covers a myriad of mediocre! 🙂

  3. So glad you got to go with your friend, I learned Photoshop pretty much on my own with ALOT of tears and frustration. It is a great tool, and I would not have the business I have without it.

  4. I don’t see anything mediocre about your photograph.

    I am enjoying reading people’s thoughts on PSW, especially newcomers. Out of the many conferences I attend, PSW puts on the best event. Not only are the speakers spectacular, but NAPP attendees just seem to be really enthusiastic about learning and networking with other folks.

    Happy to read your first experience was a great one.

  5. This sounds fabulous, I’ve been learning Photoshop in bits and pieces from books, web and my hubby, and it’s been frustrating at best and I still don’t know much!

    Thanks for the info,

  6. Your photos are never mediocre. With your artistic training, they are always good. I’m jealous.

    Photoshop is tough to learn, because there are so many choices along with their combinations and permutations. Just about any process takes a minimum of five steps. The trick is to learn a few basic ones.

    Lesa Snider King has a nice web site where she does things in small, bite-sized chunks. She normally posts a new chunk each week. The site is called

    For me the best way is to pick out several photographs and apply a chuck to each of them to see what happens. It helps to be selective about the chuck. You don’t need to know how to use every one. Just a few key ones will help considerably.

    Start with one of the early ones in her site that looks interesting, like how to get rid of blemishes and wrinkles. Practice it over and over until it becomes second nature.

    Welcome back.

  7. You know, AM, the words which leapt out at me in this post were “At the core of my being is a story teller…”. I read them and carried on reading then stopped and went back and looked at them again, and sat here thinking. You are right. You are a story teller, and finding as many ways as you/we can to tell our stories is what makes up the fabric of our lives. We are story tellers. You have a wonderful way with words, and the pictures you paint with them are remarkable.

  8. Hi, AM –

    I wouldn’t sell yourself short, you have a wonderful eye (partly from your design training, partly just a wonderful gift) and that is half the battle with photography.

    I also only have Elements (am afraid husband will divorce me if I front the big bucks on the ‘real’ package…have too much invested in him to risk that…). I need to invest the time in it to learn more.

    I think your photos are wonderful!

  9. I’m inspired by your blog – everything about it. Keep telling the great stories and taking the wonderful photos!

  10. ThanX for the great recap! Sounds like it was worthwhile. The rose shot is lovely. Reminds me of the old hymn, In the Garden: I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses;

  11. Girl, I had such a great time hanging out with you. When you left 24 hr. before I did, I saw what a lonely puppy I would have been if I’d gone alone. I wandered around taking pictures, even finding the elusive McDonald’s (and Quiznos, Little Caesar’s, etc.) in the Luxor. When I left and saw it all from the outside, I couldn’t believe how far I’d been.

    I even ate in our Italian restaurant again!

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