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Should You Go To Photoshop World?

Photoshop World
  • Editor Rating

  • Really Good
$600 & up
  • 4.75/5 Average User Rating

  • 2 Reviews ()

  • Photoshop World
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on: September 9, 2013
  • Last modified: September 25, 2013

  • Review Summary:

  • Advanced hobbyists and emerging pros should give this conference serious consideration. Be sure to fully leverage all the conference offers to get the most value for your investment.

If you are trying to decide if it’s worth your time and money, TOGreview believes … Yes, you probably should try to make it to Photoshop World at least once.

After four days with the Kelby Media/Training Empire in Las Vegas (Sept 2013), with the goal of evaluating the real value of their twice annual Photoshop World events, TOGreview was overall pretty happy and believe they delivered what they promised.

The event hosted more than 100 classes and in-depth workshops ranging from “this is a speedlight”-level introductions on portrait lighting, to learning unique animation design techniques in the Adobe suite. And the days really were packed. There was always something to do or see from about 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day, with fun, after-hours social events lasting into the wee hours of the morning. Even during several “open” 4- or 5-hour blocks, the vendor expo floor hosted another 20 official classes and dozens of live product demonstrations. Attendees often had to sacrifice missing something just to grab lunch or dinner. So quantity for your money – yes, Photoshop World delivers.

Photographers Review Seminars, Photo Books, DVDs, Photoshop Classes & more at www.TOGreview.com

What about quality of the training? Here again, they do a good job of meeting the widely varied needs, experience levels and expectations of the crowd – often 500+ people in any given class. The instructors in classes we attended all were extremely knowledgable and most were very good at explaining their work. Aside from the pre-conference workshops (at additional cost), the classes were limited to one hour, so no single class could turn you into an expert. But, over the course of 3 or 4 days, someone with no knowledge could definitely get a bevy of techniques and direction they need to get there.

Without exception, the conference staff was extremely nice and, we believe, sincerely interested in helping each attendee get the help they need. While TOGreview is truly unbiased here, it’s clear that sense of approachability and helpful attitude must permeate the culture at Kelby Media Group because it repeatedly showed in how they interacted with everyone. They seem to genuinely care about the people buying their training. And that’s pretty cool.

Over the course of the conference, TOGreview interviewed close to 100 other attendees for their immediate opinions and very few had anything negative to report. Perhaps close to half of those we spoke with have attended before (some at their employers’ expense, but not all), which is a really good indication they feel the conference is worth it.

But will it be worth it for you?

If your training budget comes right off your personal bottom line, note that A LOT of the class information you will get at Photoshop World is available online already or in books at a fraction of the cost. Hotel rooms, airplane tickets, expensive Vegas meals, etc. all add up fast. Being away from work, too, is an opportunity cost and should be part of your evaluation.

So the TOGreview advice is DO NOT go to Photoshop World just to learn a specific technique, or to see a particular instructor spend an hour explaining XYZ. If that’s what you need, find it online, buy a DVD or read their book.

Photographers Review Seminars, Photo Books, DVDs, Photoshop Classes & more at www.TOGreview.com

DO GO to Photoshop World if you’re still new to photography/design, want to become a professional or just be a better amateur. But to get your money’s worth, you should do more than sit in class. Go to meet with other photographers/designers and the great instructors during the social events to talk about projects, ask questions and be inspired. Go and walk into a session that might be outside your normal comfort zone or line of work. Go to get the notes and downloads from every class and use them after you get home. Side note here: they even gave us copies of the pre-conference in-depth workshop notes – a nice, unexpected benefit. Go for the inexpensive portfolio reviews. Or, go simply if you’ve been doing “your thing” for a while, need a creative kick-in-the-pants to find something new. If you can go for several of these reasons, you’ll likely be happy you did.

So that’s the good. Here are our humble critiques.

The devil’s in the details. With a conference of this size and expense, we expect much better technology support and coordination. Many instructors were embarrassed and truly hindered by simple screen resolution conflicts that would not allow them to properly display their application workspace. A few foibles would go almost unnoticed, but this problem seemed almost universal in the classes TOGreview attended. It didn’t stop the instructors, but definitely slowed them down and distracted their delivery.

Photographers Review Seminars, Photo Books, DVDs, Photoshop Classes & more at www.TOGreview.com

Also, with so many classes and too little time, picking the sessions and setting a schedule was important to get the most from the event. While the conference overall did a fantastic job preparing show information and schedules – including a really nice iPad application - we wish class descriptions would consistently be a little more detailed. Not the majority, but too many classes had little or no detail to help us decide if the class was a good fit. Another helpful tool in researching classes was the class notes packet sent via e-book a few days beforehand and available in print at registration. Unfortunately, several instructors didn’t make the deadline so their class notes were not available to review or help us set our schedule. Those instructors should be lightly flogged for not being prepared in time.

Design instructor Corey Barker (we caught his “Down & Dirty Tips For Designers,” “Creating Motion Graphics in Photoshop,” and “Using Photoshop & Illustrator” classes) seemed the least prepared instructor we encountered and his presentations were often peppered with “I don’t know why that’s not happening” or “I’ve forgotten what I was trying to do. Let’s get back to that one.”  Perhaps attributable to the complex material or the short one-hour format, Corey had to move very fast, often without explanation of his process/changes. He has great content and advice, and possibly had the most classes to teach, but his written notes are probably good enough and easier to follow than his live presentation.

Perhaps chalk up Corey’s difficulty to trying to do too much, which might also be responsible for the less-than-expected live food shoot by Joe Glyda. Walking on stage, erecting a lit set from scratch and shooting two setups in 60 minutes? Doesn’t sound like a recipe for success. Joe’s a good photographer and instructor (we’ve seen his online training sessions), but this one could have been better. Luckily no other class immediately followed and Joe was eager to provide Q&A and advice to a small group that stuck around after the session officially ended.Photographers Review Seminars, Photo Books, DVDs, Photoshop Classes & more at www.TOGreview.com

One recurring complaint from attendees was the relative small number of companies represented at the expo. Numerous people commented this year’s expo was smaller than previous years (Nikon didn’t even represent) and smaller than other conferences like PPA’s ImagingUSA.

A few other random notes that might help you if you plan to attend:

The conference officially kicked off with a key note address by Scott Kelby, his crew and Adobe big wigs. Most was simply fanfare and there certainly wasn’t any “can’t-miss” content. But, it was lighthearted, had some inspirations from talented artists (Brooke Shaden presented this year) and provided a first glimpse of some new Adobe features and an upcoming Wacom product.

Jim DiVitale properly chided the conference for not better documenting the Art of Digital Photography session in the printed schedules. Arguably one of the best recurring sessions, it is a powerful, inspiring can’t-miss “slide show ” presentation by the top instructors – McNally, Versace, Maisel, Glyda, DiVitale, Black and Peterson presented this year. But you might not see it in every schedule, so ask about it and be there.

Finally, we purchased the Pro Pass for an additional $119, which included the must-have after-hours party  ticket ($59) and a pretty nice NAPP messenger bag. But the included Speed Pass ($49 on its own) was never really needed.

But that’s our opinion. What’s yours? If you have attended Photoshop World before, please add your voice! Rate and comment below to help other Togs like us determine if this training is right for them.

 

Pros

Great staff, knowledgeable and approachable instructors and plenty of networking opportunities deliver a much different "experience" than learning on your own via book, online class or DVDs. There's more to see/do than you can fit into a day, so the printed/downloadable notes from every class is quite valuable. This year we also received 12 months of the Creative Cloud.

Cons

It's not cheap. With travel, meals, hotels and more, some attendees will pay more than $2,000 to attend. And it's not for everyone (of course). If you're uncomfortable in crowds and don't enjoying mingling with your peers, you probably won't like Photoshop World.

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2 Comments

  1. I attended Photoshop World in Vegas and I’d have to say your review is spot on, both in general and specific terms. I was quite surprised that some photographers (visually sophisticated people) would allow their work to be shown in the wrong aspect ratio because the screen resolution was not set properly.

    Photoshop World is best the first couple of times, after that you start to wonder if there are enough advanced classes. And now the keynote, which is largely a show instead of a class, is available live online. I’ve gone a few times but am now questioning whether it will still be a good value to continue going because there is so much repeat content and content available free on the Web.

    The big change this year was the 12 months of Creative Cloud. That pretty much pays for the conference…

  2. Great review! I have to agree with many of your points, adding that this was my first time attending PSW. I have to also agree with JJ about the freebies paying for the price of admission. The full year of Adobe CC, the full Nik suite, and a few other freebies that I netted (along with a spectacular last-day deal from one of the vendors) more than made up for the expenditure. And actually, when you compare hotel rates in Vegas to those in other cities, it was a lot cheaper than some of the other conferences I researched.

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