Every year, CreativeLive hosts an event called Photoshop Week that feature classes from world-renowned experts. These free classes range from beginner level classes to expert level education. While most people only get to see these classes through a computer screen, I got the opportunity to see first hand what goes on behind the scenes.
To start this off, I have to say the CreativeLive paid to fly me out to Photoshop week. That said, the experience I had is identical to what any member of the studio audience would experience and these are my unbiased opinions on the event.
When I first arrived at the CreativeLive headquarters, it was instantly apparent that this was a space for creatives. The main lobby area featured a comfortable lounge that was filled with art and educational books. This lounge area also had four large TVs that showed a constant stream of either live classes, class reruns, or one screen that showed a live map of who was watching classes online at that very moment.
Walking through the building you find amazing artwork on all the walls. From graffiti portraits in the cafeteria to a wall of printed books in the instructor's lounge. When it comes to areas to record, they have three different studios. They have a smaller studio B, a larger studio A, then a massive studio they just call “the garage”. The crazy thing about Photoshop week is that they have classes running in two different studios at the exact same time. They also do this for a total of six days straight!
While you may think that an event of this size would be filled with stress and cause, I actually found the exact opposite. Every room had a constant buzz of excitement and energetic conversation. Now, this isn't to say that people weren't working hard, because everyone was moving with purpose. But you could tell they were loving every minute of it. When someone had a question, it was a pleasure for people to stop what they were doing and help. Then back to joyful work when the question was answered. I have never been in an environment like this before so it was a refreshing change of pace.
In addition to the many employees and instructors, there is also a large group that comes to fill the seats of the audience. These students range from seasoned professionals to beginners just trying to learn the ropes. The cool thing is that you would never be able to tell who was who. Everyone was on the same level of having something to teach and something to learn. Sitting in the cafeteria you saw students learning from instructors, students learning from each other, and instructors learning from students and other instructors. It was like a free-for-all of learning.
When it came to actually attending the classes, there was playful banter between the instructor and students before the start of each event. The CreativeLive staff would call out how much time there was until going live and hype up the audience. The host of the show would help hype people up as well and if you were in a studio with Kenna Klosterman, you definitely started each event by showing off your best dance moves.
As for the actual content of the classes, I have four events that particularly stand out:
This class didn't have so much to do with Photoshop as it had to do with finding who you are as a photographer. Heisler talked about the importance of finding your style, and more importantly, how to actually go about finding it. Heisler drew from his experiences teaching college courses as well as his past 35 years of shooting. For those that don't know, Heisler has shot more than 70 covers for Time Magazine along with countless others for various publications. So he definitely knows his stuff. His talk was very insightful and was also quite funny and entertaining.
Although Daniel and Davina have an amazing two-day class called “The Wedding Story: Capture Creative and Authentic Photos”, this class was like a crash course into what they do. Kudish explained the importance of light in your images and talks about how the quantity of light isn't as important as the quality of the light you have. He also does a complete shoot where he deals with different lighting conditions and explains how he navigate the different environments. He then takes all these images and shows how he would cull and edit them. Most of what he shows is done within Lightroom. Here he shows an amazing way of how to draw attention to your subject as well as a cool way to bring the colors of your image to life. Kudish is the founder of The Image Salon, so he knows a thing or two about editing!
I didn't know what to expect when going into Photoshop This, but it ended up being an hour of constant laughing with simultaneous learning. The premise for this event is that the three editors are given a very small set of time to perform certain edits. Going into the event they have no idea what they are going to be doing so have no way to prepare. They just have to work off the top of their head to go as fast as they can. Things like replacing a sky, adding fire to an image, or creating a composite with as many elements as possible
At the start of the event, each instructor picked a background that they would use for the final edit. From here, there was a quick photo shoot where host Jared Platt had his picture taken in funny outfits and poses. Each editor then had seven minutes to add one of these images to their background and make it look as real as possible.
I found this class very interesting because food photography and retouching is completely outside of what I normally do. Being able to get an inside look at what it takes to create these types of images was really insightful. Things I would have never thought of if I was just starting to play around with this style of photography. Not only did they perform an entire shoot and retouch, but they explained in detail what they did, how they did it, and most importantly why they did it. Things like planning for different print ratios, focus stacking, and even small things like taking backplate images that could save hundreds of dollars in retouching time. If you are even slightly interested in this type of shooting or retouching, this class is a must watch.
-Chase Jarvis - Bonus session
The last thing that was extremely cool was not even part of the event and I don't even know if it will be shared online. But during an hour of downtime, the creator of CreativeLive, Chase Jarvis, had an intimate discussion with a group of students. Jarvis talked about the power of photography and how it related to language. He explained that although there are roughly 6,500 languages in the world right now, photography is the only universal language. You can spend a lifetime trying to learn the word love in as many languages as you can and you would barely scratch the surface. But show an image of a mother holding a child for the first time and you can instantly understand it. Jarvis also had an open Q&A with the students and one question a lady had was “how do I know what type of photography I should specialize in”. Jarvis explained that if you don't know, then you haven't shot enough. In order to find out what you love to shoot, you have to find out what you don't love to shoot. After a brief back and forth, Jarvis was able to help her narrow down what she had a true passion for and give her an outline of how to get there.
From the people that work at CreativeLive, to the instructors and students, the entire experience at Photoshop week was an amazing experience. One thing worth noting is that anyone can take part in everything I just explained. The studio audience is filled with everyday creatives that have a passion for learning. But even if you can't attend one of these events, you can always watch them live online for free. Which is a crazy thing to think about. Everything they produce can be had for free. But they make money on selling these classes because of how valuable the information really is. I have spent a lot of time learning things online and feel like I know a lot. But from beginner classes to the more advanced, I learned things from every class I sat in.
Did you tune into Photoshop week 2018? What was your favorite class?
Images provided by CreativeLive. Shot by staff photographer Casey Cosley