I just returned from Photoshop World 2015 in Las Vegas. It was my fourth time attending the conference and Expo – three of them in Vegas. The day before the main conference begins, they have what I think they now call In-depth Workshops. Those of us who’ve been around a while still call them pre-cons. As in before the conference. I decided to spend a bit of time around Joe McNally again and take his pre-con.
I keep hoping some of Joe’s vast understanding of light and story-telling will rub off on me! We went to what is basically a large open space filled with various gym equipment used by some of the Vegas performers to train. As models, Joe brought some friends (who doesn’t he know?) from the local scene.
Charlotte is a show girl and was dressed as such. The lighting setups were set ahead of time, each station using a different kind of lighting arrangement. Charlotte is very natural and at home even with a line of photographers waiting to take a few pictures.
I decided to go for something whacky, and asked her to give me a surprised look. She was awesome. This is probably my favorite photo of the day.
Manu is a lead in Cirque du Soleil’s Ka. A very fit young man. And, he’s from Paris. The lighting station here was a black backdrop and rim lighting. Perfect for highlighting his physique. There was something missing, though.
I asked Manu if he’d mind removing his shirt. He obliged. When I checked a long while later, no one had apparently asked him to replace the shirt. Go figure!
Sasha is a former Olympic swimmer. I believe Joe said she performs in O. Beautiful lines and flexibility. Look at her fingers – no posing, she just naturally does that.
I had a little fun with her, too. I’m not sure she knew what to make of me. I figured they are standing there for 40 or 50 photographers – they were given some much-needed breaks – shooting frame after frame, so I wanted to add a bit of levity. Hey, I do what I can!
Drew is a former NFL player. I didn’t talk to Drew as much as I’d have liked – he was a very popular subject. Very popular. He had some cool props. While I was in line, he had a shirt on, and I was thinking it would be cool if he could tear it off for a photo. Someone beat me to that request, and from what I could hear, it turns out he had a handful of tear-away shirts. Too obvious, I guess.
He had just been oiled up, so I thought it would be good to try the cowboy hat and give me a just back from the field kind of look with a jacket over the shoulder. I’d like to have worked this a bit more, but I wanted others to have their opportunities to shoot.
Our final model, Alyssa, is a freelance acrobat. She said she can’t dance, but you’d think she must. She grew up in a circus performing family. I suspect this is just in her blood. She did some ring work, then a lot with this hanging fabric – climbing, sitting, hanging, and used it as a backdrop at ground level. When she was up in the air, I kept looking over at her amazed at her stamina. Hanging and moving without stopping. How can she do that? This station used continuous lights (no flash) which have some nice benefits. But what they don’t do well is overpower the ambient light, so lots of my shots of Alyssa have distracting backgrounds. But one benefit was everyone around her could all shoot at once – no flash triggers were needed.
While I was looking over at Manu later in the afternoon, I saw this incredible window light behind him. The sun had moved, pushing a lot more light through those windows. I kind of slipped in to grab some shots between the flashes of the photographer with the radio trigger. Made sure I stayed out of that photographer’s way, but I had to grab a few shots. Ambient light can be really great. But, it’s good to recognize that Manu was still in front of a black backdrop that helped guide that window light where it would produce this sort of pattern.
This was all on Monday. Photoshop World began in earnest on Tuesday starting with the always amazing keynote event. There’s always a theme and a video, and this year it was a spoof of Wayne’s World. They posted the whole keynote here – the first seven minutes or so is the video. This sets the tone for the conference, and you realize it’s going to be educational, but it’s going to be fun along the way, too!
Apart from the conference and Joe’s pre-con, I had some time to walk a ton, ride in the High Roller (basically a very large Ferris wheel), do some indoor freefall at the Vegas Indoor Skydiving center, and attend Zarkana, one of Cirque du Soleil’s amazing shows. I have a lot of iPhone photos! Ask to see them sometime!