I just spent 4 incredible days in Los Angeles. I know that sounds a little weird since I am not a huge fan of Los Angeles and try to avoid it as much as possible. The reason i was in LA was to attend the Adobe MAX conference for the first time. Adobe MAX is a conference put on by Adobe (the company behind Photoshop, Illustrator, Premier, etc) where they show off al the new technology coming out, update their software offerings, and offer an amazing assortment of classes and labs on using their products. Here are some of the reasons that this was an epic experience.

The 14,000+  attendees.

That is 14,000 creatives all getting geeked out on the tools that allow them to bring their visions to life. The energy at the conference was incredible. There were designers, graphic artists, videographers, bloggers, bloggers, and a few photographers thrown in for good measure. There is an energy present just being around that many creative people which is very difficult to describe in words, you are just going to have to trust me on this one,

The Speakers (Ron Howard, Albert Watson)

There were some really inspiring keynote speakers but the two that stood out to me were photographer Albert Watson and actor/director/producer Ron Howard. If the idea was to have speakers that would inspire the audience to go out and create, then these two were perfect. Full disclosure here, there were a couple of other speakers as well, and while they all had interesting stories, for me it was all about Albert and Ron. Hearing Albert talk about his shoot with Alfred Hitchcock and doing double exposures in camera was great. Seeing what he is now doing with photography and Photoshop was inspiring. Here is a man who could rest on his portfolio but instead, he is pushing the boundaries of what can be done with new technology. Listening to Ron Howard talk about the fine line between being a collaborative director and still making sure the final product matched his vision was fantastic. 

The New Technology

Hey, this is Adobe’s show and no better place or time to show off the Creative Cloud 2019 releases. I will have more on that soon, but just know that the improvements range from the small tweaks to the major changes. One of the really cool tech presentations is called Adobe Sneaks which shows of technology that is fresh from the magic Adobe Labs. This is tech that might or might not make it into future products. You can see all the sneaks HERE

The Pre-conference workshops

For two days before the conference actually kicks off, there are pre-conference (or precon) workshops. I was lucky enough to be assigned (as a teaching assistant) to the Small Camera, Big Results precon led by Katrin Eismann along with Matthew Richmond and Jeff Rojas. My part of the class was to help Mathew with the photo walk portion of the class. We took three groups around the area around the convention center looking for scenes that could help tell a story in a 1940s noir style. The cool part about the class for me is that instead of using full size cameras with interchangeable lenses we used our smart phone cameras or smaller compact cameras. I pushed myself to use my iPhone 8 camera and Lightroom CC. I finally understand Lightroom CC fits into my photography workflow but more on that in the future. What I did find really great was the ability to shoot with a high contrast black and white filter profile so that I could see the image in black and white before pressing the shutter button. The class was really eye-opening. Here are a few of the photos I took while walking around LA Live.

The Labs.

There are a few different types of presentations at Adobe MAX. The labs are hands on training where you follow along with he instructor and in some cases even produce a print or other tangible output. I was the teacher assistant for my buddy Mark Heaps, who taught a lab using illustrator and a ton of Epson printers to create a poster using type. I actually helped out in 3 of the 4 Type – o – Licious labs and while my illustrator skills are not as good as my Lightroom or Photoshop skills, I learned a lot. I was also really amazed at the posters that the attendees created in about 15 min. It was quite something to see. I was also the teaching assistant for a Lightroom Lab taught by Matt Kloskowski. This was probably the easiest class to assist as I use Lightroom just about everyday and have been using it since it was first announced. The great part about being a TA for Matt, was seeing how others teach material I already know and to see how they use it compared to me. I also took a lab as an attendee on using Photoshop called Photoshop to save your life: Techniques for consistent marketing taught by Daniel Scott. it was a really interesting class and opened my eyes to using art boards and libraries in Photoshop. 


The Classes.

I got to go to a few classes, some having to do with Photoshop and Lightroom, others just because the topic or presenter looked interesting. One of the coolest parts of MAX for me was to see my friends present. As I said earlier, I was a TA for my buddies Mark and Matt. I also went to see my friend Glyn Dewis present on making selections in Photoshop. Glyn hit a home run with his class. It was a truly a pleasure watching him present. On a side note, Glyn has a new book that was just published by Rocky Nook. This is the book that anyone wanting to get into Photoshop should own and I am going to give a copy away. All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post and you will be entered to win a copy of The Photoshop Toolbox. (Contest will close Nov. 10 2018). I also got to sit in awe while watching Julieanne Kost go through some advanced (and new) Lightroom Classic tricks. The ability to merge a set of images into a HDR panorama with 1-click is a huge time-saving feature just added to Lightroom Classic. I also got to see Aaron Draplin present and was throughly entertained. The brutally honest presentation should have opened a lot of the attendees eyes to the reality of running a design business. 

The Expo.

One of the coolest things about any conference is the exhibitor expo, where they get to ply the attendees with free schwag. The expo at MAX was really quite fantastic, but the highlight was running into Joel Grimes at the Canon booth where he was showing a very cool trick that helps create a photoshop mask right in the camera. This one little technique really blew my mind and the creative possibilities that it opens up are quite mind-blowing. I hope to try to use this technique soon. Thank Joel.

The Friends

The best part about Adobe MAX was being able to spend time with friends. I am very fortunate to have a lot of friends in the creative fields and many of them were there in LA. At the top of the list are Glyn Dewis and Dave Clayton. I met these guys at Photoshop World a while back and we have stayed great friends ever since. This year Glyn was presenting at MAX while Dave was there as a teaching assistant and a representative of Astute Graphics, the company he works for. These two also host a great podcast focusing on photography and design (He Shoots, He Draws) and you should give it a listen. I got to spend some quality time with old friends; Hark Heaps, Matt Kloskowski, Jesus Ramirez, Colin Smith, Bert Monroy, Theresa Jackson, Chuck Uebele, Dave Cross, Sean Duggan, Kevin Stohlmeyer, Tony Harmer, Jan Kabili  and Katrin Eismann. I had the real pleasure of being able to hang out with the super talented and amazing Lisa Carney (you really need to see her retouching work). We met two years ago when MAX was in San Diego, but really got to spend some time together this year. I even managed to catch some of her labs and it was great. Then there were the people who I met this time at MAX; Some of these people have been friends on-line for a while but it was great to actually meet up face to face; Meredith Payne Stotzner, Melissa Arnold, Sebastian Bleak, Sef McCullough, Josh Haftel, Ian Sayers, and Melissa Piccone. 

The Adobe MAX conference was a great week in LA. Already looking forward to returning in 2019.