For the last two years I’ve had the opportunity to visit Las Vegas for Photoshop World.  This is basically a conference for photographers that provides training and “networking” opportunities with people with similar interests.

I don’t know the ratio’s but I suspect that a vast majority of the attendees are professional photographers – I suspect that most hobbyist’s can’t justify the cost to attend, but it’s really worth it.

Like any big conference there are a number of training courses that follow different “tracks”.  So you can follow the “Graphic Designer” track, or the “Photography” track or “Lighting” track etc., I’m sure you get the idea.  Of course you don’t have to stick to the track you can swap throughout the day.

The training is really fantastic, you can attend a course to learn a new technique or process fix a picture – this is really good if you fancy a new type of genre but don’t know how to start.  For example, I’m mainly a landscape photographer with a bit of portrait thrown in.  If for example I fancied trying weddings or commercial product shooting I could attend a class to find out more.  You can also attend classes that provide you with general inspiration and hear from your favorite professional – those are great too.

Of course there are parties in the evening and dinners you can attend etc., so you can pretty much tie up your whole day from around 8am until midnight.  All the time you are attending with other keen photographers so you learn a LOAD just talking to people.

Another upside (or downside for Lisa) is that there is a product fair there so you can checkout the latest gear and even buy new “stuff”.  But it’s a bit like being a kid in a candy store you can go nuts so I always give myself an allowance and never spend more.

The conference lasts 3 days, and before the conference there is the chance to attend a “pre-conference” event (for some more money of course).

This year in a pre-conference I signed up to learn from Joe McNally.  Now for most of you, you won’t know who Joe is so I’ll give you a few details.  Joe is an internationally acclaimed photographer whose career has spanned 30 years and included assignments in over 50 countries. He has shot cover stories for TIME, Newsweek, Fortune, New York, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, and Men’s Journal.  His work is, well, amazing.  Here’s a link to his site if you want to check it out: link.

Anyway, Joe was running a course on portrait photography and I thought why not.  I should say here I had no idea of what to expect.

So it turned out that Joe had arranged for us to shoot performers from the Las Vegas Cirque Du Soleil shows.  It was absolutely fantastic.  There were around 6 different performers and they were all dressed in costume and we got the chance to shoot them really up close for 5 hours.

It was an opportunity I’ll never get again and we had a blast.  I got the chance to learn loads from Joe and capture some amazing pictures.

Here are some of my favorite shots, hopefully you like them too.