The 10 Best of Photoshop World 2010

As you may have heard by now, Photoshop World 2010 in Orlando was stellar. While Photoshop World leans very heavy toward post-processing and all the goodness that Photoshop lets us do, there is also a healthy serving of photography mixed in. Lighting, in particular, was a huge theme in this year’s photography sessions.  If you are passionate about photography (or post-processing) and have never been to a Photoshop World, you owe it to yourself to attend one soon.

Unfortunately, I cannot convey in words just how much fun Scott Kelby and the rest of the NAPP gang manage to stuff into a few days.  Instead, I’ll just share the 10 (totally subjective) best things about Photoshop World 2010 and leave it to you to make it to the next one and experience it for yourself.

1. Best Song

“Photoshop All Night”

Just imagine an opening ceremony and keynote headlined by NAPP (a KISS wannabe band) with Scott Kelby himself as the frontman (complete with makeup and leather suits).  The spoof on the KISS song Rock & Roll All Night for Photoshoppers is over the top. In just a few minutes during the opening ceremony, I transcended into an entirely different plain of geekdom.

Thanks to Mr. Kelby, I’ve been humming “I wanna Photoshop all night and retouch every day” for the past several days.  So, yeah, thanks for that Scott.

I won’t spoil all the fun for the Vegas attendees, but I can tell you that you don’t want to miss the keynote.

2. Best New Product Sneak Peek

Photoshop CS5

Not a lot of competition here; however, even if there was, I’m pretty sure that Photoshop CS5 would still win out.  The Content Aware Fill is amazing (just in case you hadn’t heard that enough yet).

3. Best Kiss

Joe McNally and an SB-900 during the session “Big Light from Small Flashes.”

It was an odd moment, but it was also the only kiss (other than the KISS-spoofed NAPP crew) that I saw during Photoshop World, so McNally’s kiss with his SB-900 gets the prize.  I’m pretty sure there was some petting an coddling of an SB-900, but we’ll keep it PG here.

In all seriousness, McNally is one of the most entertaining speakers I’ve ever heard.  He’s entertaining in an educational way though.  While you’ll crack up as he cracks on himself and a few audience members when the opportunity arises, he simply oozes knowledge.  He teaches in a very humble, yet confident, manner.

Sitting in Joe’s sessions (I attended all of them), it was much like the pages to his books were coming to life.  Having heard him speak reaffirmed the hearty recommendation that I recently gave to his latest book, The Hot Shoe Diaries.  He speaks and writes in very much the same way.

If you want to know more about off-camera lighting, I recommend picking up his book or attending one (or all) of his sessions at the next Photoshop World.

4. Best Gadget

Lastolite Ezybox

I saw a lot of very cool gadgets at Photoshop World.  Many I had seen before, or at least knew about, and some I hadn’t.  The Lastolite Ezybox is such a sweet tool, with a built-in speed ring and mounting bracket for hot shoe flashes.

Runner ups for this category include Elinchrom BXRi lights (love the built-in Skyport receivers), Wacom tablets, C-Stands and, of course, gaffer tape.

5. Best Goatee

Zack Arias

I’m a huge fan of Zack Arias’ work and down-to-earth approach to photography and life.  Zack is the kind of guy that just keeps it real – all the time.  He’s not afraid to tell you all about the hard stuff, even if you don’t want to hear it.  I had the pleasure of sitting in on both of Zack’s sessions, and aside from having the best goatee at Photoshop World 2010, he also had some of the best info I heard.

Zack’s session on the “Many Uses of a White Seamless Background” is something that everyone that didn’t attend Photoshop World can still pick up on.  All of the essential content can be found for free on his blog here.  It’s still worth hearing the guy speak though.

Oh, and if you’re going to take a photo of Zack on stage while he’s working his magic with the white seamless, be sure to take your point and shoot out of dummy-mode so that you don’t trigger the slaves on his lights and nuke him . . . and the model . . . and the rest of the audience . . . .

Sorry ’bout that Zack . . . and Stevie . . . and everyone else. ;-)

6. Best Expo Session (that I saw)

Syl Arena on Canon Speedlites

There was so much going on at the expo (which is separate from the Photoshop World sessions) that there was no way I was going to see everything; however, I caught Syl Arena talking it up with Canon’s Speedlites in hand for a session at the Manfrotto Distribution booth (see #8 below) during one of the expo breaks.

They needed a bigger area here because Syl and several others were really packing in the crowds and clogging up the surrounding aisles.  Syl has done a great job with helping other photographers learn about the Canon TTL flash system, which is a little trickier than Nikon’s CLS.  Syl gave some solid, practical pointers and walk-throughs during his short session.

He shot tethered and showed us what adjustments he was making along the way, as well as demonstrating the differences between bare flash, soft boxes and additional diffusers, and how all these things affect the light that hits your subject.  I might be a little partial since I assisted with his TriGrip diffuser, but I like to think that I added something to his presentation.  :-)

Syl has a ton of great info available at his blog, as well as his recently-launched site,

7. Best Quote

“Ansel Adams was a hack.” -Joe McNally*

*Note that this award should go to Jay Maisel; however, this is generally a PG or PG-13 blog at most, neither of which would allow Jay Maisel’s quote.  As a result, I have to go back to McNally for a second award.

There was definitely some context to this quote, as McNally was talking about some historically significant photographers (of whom most in the room had never heard) and explained some of that historical significance.  McNally went on to comment that Adams was a good photographer and a great marketer.

8. Best Expo Booth

Manfrotto Distribution

These guys distribute a lot of our favorite photo gear from the likes of Manfrotto, Gitzo, Kata, Lastolite, Elinchrom and several other brands.  It wasn’t the gear that set their booth apart though.  They had several solid 45 minute sessions taught by folks like Scott Kelby, Terry White and Syl Arena, among others.  The ones I saw had these guys shooting live and talking about what goes into the shoot, with mistakes and adjustments made on the fly.

There were plenty other great booths and sessions to be had during the expo hours; however, I felt like Manfrotto Distribution really stuck out from the crowd a bit.

9. Best F-Stop


You’ll have to ask Zack Arias why.

10. Best License Plate

‘Nuff said.



  1. says

    Nice post. Looks like we hit some of the same sessions, and must’ve been standing pretty close to each other during Terry White’s booth demo shoot of Stevie.

  2. Ann Baldwin says

    I have never attended this event before, so I was pretty amazed at the variety of workshops offered. As an intermediate Photoshop CS4 user, I had made up my mind to concentrate on the CS4 workshops. BUT the Photography track was so tempting, I ended up taking a lot of those classes instead. Zack Arias ( was my favorite instructor. Everything he said was so full of common sense. Of course, his white seamless background methods are legendary. I loved it when he referred to ‘photographers suffering from GAS’ – Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I know so many people who just keep acquiring new stuff in the hope of becoming a much better photographer. He advised us to ‘know our gear’ inside out, rather than buy more. He also told us ‘Get a blog, not a website’. It’s a far better way of networking, he says. You can always have links to your gallery hosted somewhere online.

    I also attended a food shoot with Joe Glyda – brilliant! He had a food stylist with him, so that was an eye-opener. Jim di Vitale(who I call Mr. Motormouth, as I’ve never heard anyone speak so fast – but all relevant) did a great demo on Creative Product Photography.

    I didn’t attend Joe McNally’s sessions because I recently took workshops with him – they were phenomenal. I have been more friendly with my Nikon Creative Lighting System ever since.

    Of course, I had to go to Dave Cross’s workshop on Customizing Photoshop and only wish I’d taken it 10 years ago. Ben Wilmore was his usually friendly and helpful self with a ton of advice on how to avoid artifacting. The only negative was V_____ V____ His teaching technique leaves a lot to be desired. It consists of making things as complex as possible and continually dropping sarcastic remarks about ‘people’ who just don’t get it. We all left having learned that, according to him anyway, he is the One with the Ultimate Knowledge and the rest of us are just pathetic little creatures picking up crumbs. I own his book and was thinking of burning it when I got home, but, well, it is a pretty good book. I did try to download the amazing action file he gave us, but my computer crashed. Mmmmm….suspicious.

    Now I’m wondering how on earth I’m going to retain all that knowledge? Practice, practice, practice and Gas begone!