So you’re heading to Vegas for your first Photoshop World. Don’t quite know what to expect? Here are 10 tips to help you make the most of your first Photoshop World.
1. Rest up before you go – Seriously. Even if PW was held in El Paso rather than Las Vegas, you wouldn’t get much sleep. PW crams an amazing number of classes and fun events into a handful of days. (The schedule is here.) On Friday, for example, classes start at 8:15am and run into the early evening. Then, from 7:15-9:15pm, consider the panel discussion ‘The Art of Digital Photography‘ to be a can’t-miss session. And… if you’re really a night owl, get one of the coveted 200 tickets to Midnight Madness, which follows the panel discussion.
2. Plan each day and then be ready to change your plan – The whole PW experience is like getting a bunch of Photoshop appetizers – a taste of this and a taste of that. The courses are about 60-minutes long. Up to 8 courses are held simultaneously. There are 3 to 6 sessions per day. Classes are not repeated, although there are sometimes very similar topics taught by different instructors. A few sessions will likely be added to the schedule at the last minute. An instructor or two might not make it. So stay tuned for schedule changes and corrections. Also, don’t forget that there are numerous bonus classes in the Tech Expo. To help keep things straight, Dave Cross has prepared a helpful PDF that you can use to make your initial battle plan.
3. Wear comfortable shoes – Be prepared to walk, a lot. You’ll walk a long way from your hotel room to the convention center and back. You’ll walk laps around and around in the Tech Expo. Also, you’ll need to walk agilely (and sometimes swiftly) between sessions. The presentations are held on multiple levels. Between sessions, it’s like being back in high school with 3,000 people trying to switch classrooms. Almost everyone upstairs seems to head downstairs for their next session and everyone downstairs heads upstairs.
4. Get to your sessions very early – Most of the meeting rooms can accommodate 500 or more people. There will be large screens up front on each side. Get to your next session early so that you can grab a seat close to the front. Otherwise, you might wish you had a pair of binoculars. Forget about sitting in front of your favorite guru. It’ll be dark. He won’t see you. Find a good seat in front of one of the screens. Another benefit of being up front is that after the session, you can charge forward and meet your guru. Every PW instructor that I’ve ever approached has been very cool about extra questions.
5. Forget about taking notes – Your first badge of honor as a PW attendee will be The Book. It’s the size of the NYC white pages. Really. Last year’s PW book in Vegas was 903 pages. The Book contains the notes and screenshots for every presentation. Since you’re a photographer, you’re visually oriented anyway. So sit back, relax and enjoy the presentations without fretting about taking good notes – they’ve already been prepared for you. [Hidden bonus tip: While you are waiting for the Keynote and other sessions to start, use The Book to figure out which classes you really need to attend and which ones likely won’t meet your needs.]
6. Carry water, food & clothing – There are a number of great places to eat in and around Mandalay. But, between breakfast and dinner, I don’t plan on stopping at any of them. There’s too much to do at PW. I carry a big bottle of water, a bunch of Clif Bars and other munchies. Then, after I get that seat in the front row, I’ll dig in and chow for a bit. Also, if you get chilled easily, you should bring a sweater. I’ve heard that the rooms can get drafty. I am, shall I say, “well insulated”. So, I’ve never noticed. But, if you’re built like a Chinese platform diver, you’ll definitely want to bring an extra layer.
7. Bring a backpack or messenger bag – O.K. You’ll have The Book, water, snacks, a sweater and all that other stuff you pick up in the Tech Expo. Don’t broadcast that you are a PW-newbie by cramming everything into the goodie bag that came with The Book. Bring a backpack or a messenger bag and look like a veteran.
8. Make new friends & rendezvous with old ones – You’ll be in giant rooms surrounded by hundreds / thousands of strangers people you haven’t met yet. Chances are that the people on either side of you don’t know anyone nearby either. Take the initiative and introduce yourself. Also, if you’ve attended a week-long workshop or are a member of a web forum or local meet-up group, send out an email blast and see if anyone else is heading to PW.
9. Bring a fat wallet or a big credit card – Forget the casinos. Instead, be prepared to find some great deals in the Tech Expo. Two years ago, I bought the complete Pulse ColorElite Pro system (that calibrates and profiles virtually every step in my studio workflow) for less than wholesale – meaning that I saved more than I spent getting to and attending PW. Most of the exhibitors will have special PW offers. When you get home, tell your spouse that you saved him/her the trouble and bought your Christmas present early.
10. Leave your ego at home – Even if your name badge says “Thomas Knoll” on it, you don’t know everything there is to know about Photoshop. For me, PW is about learning and sharing. There’s great comfort in being among 3,000 people who aren’t afraid to admit that they also don’t know everything there is to know about Photoshop. Resist the urge to show others that you know more than they do by asking questions that no one else understands.
Bonus Tips for Caffeine Addicts – The main Starbucks in Mandalay always has a long line in the morning – but it moves as fast as any Starbucks I’ve ever seen. So jump in line and stay calm. Strike up a conversation with that PW attendee right in front of you. Or, look for Jeff Schewe ordering that 8-shot, Venti something. If you’re coming over from the Luxor, the Starbucks hidden in the lobby there seldom has a line. There’s also one at the end of the bridge – just before you enter Mandalay.
Extra Credit Opportunity* – If you see a guy whose hair looks like this dog, come up and introduce yourself. (* = First, you have to figure out which one is the dog.)
A Final Bit Of Tee-Shirt Wisdom About PW…