I’m Back from Swingin’ London!
I gotta tell ya—I wasn’t there long, but I had a blast!!!!
I flew out Wednesday night, got there Thursday at 8:08 am (slept a bit on the plane), and by the time I got to my hotel and caught a quick 45 minute nap, I grabbed my camera and headed out the door to meet Dave Clayton and Glyn Dewis (two faithful readers of my blog, and otherwise horrible people).
(Above: That’s Dave and I posing in front the famous Leaning Tower of Big Ben. Notice how un-touristy I look wearing a Chicago Bears jacket. Photo by Glyn Dewis).
Dave and Glyn took me to an awesome place in Covent Garden called “Gourmet Burger Kitchen” for lunch. Yummy burger, and lots of laughs, and then we set out to find a Starbucks so I could charge my iPhone.
(Above: That’s Glyn and I caught in a totally un-posed, spontaneous moment, pondering the age-old question; “Would this gray overcast day look better as an HDR?” Photo by Her Majesty’s Royal Photographer in Waiting, Dave Clayton).
After that we went on a mini-photo walk around London. It was kind of a gray, overcast, chilly day, but that didn’t stop me from taking some of the most uninspiring, blah photos ever! I couldn’t wait to delete them off my card.
(Above: We found a mirrored wall, and couldn’t help ourselves. Photo by one of us, I’m pretty sure. Probably Dave).
We goofed off most of the day–shooting, talking about the great weather, and the two of them had the best fake British accents you’ve ever heard (They kept saying stuff like, “Cor Blimey Chappy. Cheerio Guv’nah” and stuff like that. Why they sounded just like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Dave was dressed in a red Beefeater uniform the whole day). ;-)
I feel bad teasing Dave, because the very next day, right before the seminar, he gave me what may seem like a small gift, but to me, it was out of this world. His brother had worked on the Rolling Stones last world tour, and he gave me five guitar picks from the Stones, with their names on them (see below). I was so psyched!!! (I know—it’s the little things). :)
My buddy Ed Davis met us that night for dinner, and surprisingly enough, he too had the fake British accent. ;-) I originally met Ed years ago at a Photoshop World in Florida, where he’s won numerous Guru Awards, and since then we’ve become friends and he’s written articles for Photoshop User, and he’s just a great guy all around.
The morning I came up with the original idea to host a Worldwide Photo Walk (it was during a breakfast meeting at Photoshop World with my publisher Nancy Ruenzel), I walked out of the breakfast restaurant and ran right into Ed Davis. He was the first person I saw after hatching the idea, so I told him the idea and asked that if we actually did this, would he host a walk in London? Ed said “Absolutely!” and that was it—we were off and running (I’ll always be thankful for running into Ed that morning. His immediate positive reaction gave me confidence to charge forward. Of course, at that point we were hoping for 50 cities around the world to participate. We had no idea….).
The Day of the Seminar
I walked up the street to grab some breakfast at Pret a Manger (a little walk-up restaurant down the street from my hotel), and I met half a dozen people on their way to the seminar who stopped me on the street. Everybody was so incredibly gracious that I talked with (though they seemed surprised to see me walking the streets of Islington). One of them told me, “Hey, your buddies are over at Starbucks,” so I stopped in there and Glyn, Dave, and some friends were all in there hogging up all the power outlets and drinking American coffee, while still faking British accents (I heard “You are the weakest link” several times. Shameful!).
I left them to their Bangers and Mash (which is weird, since they don’t serve that at Starbucks), and I grabbed some breakfast at Pret a Manger, then headed back to the Business Design Centre (where we held the event. Great place by the way—iPhone photo of the front entrance below).
I cannot tell you how genuinely friendly and warm the crowd was. It was hands down one of the very best crowds I presented to all year. They were totally into it, really focused, and not afraid to have some fun. I answered lots of questions between breaks, at lunch, and since I didn’t have to fly out until Saturday, I offered to stay until every single person had their question answered one-on-one, so we were there for quite a while afterwards, but I didn’t mind one bit. Everyone was so gracious, and patient. Really a tremendously fun day!
(Above: Here’s a close-up during the seminar. Notice the liquor bottles to the far left, on the corner of the stage. I was hammered all day. Of course, only later did I learn they were just bottled water. Also, noticed I cleverly positioned myself so there would always be a green sign with an arrow aiming right down at me. Photo by The Duke of Clayton).
Sean McCormack from the Lightroom Blog traveled over from Ireland to see the seminar, and we got a photo taken together (here’s the link). Great guy, and it was nice to finally meet Sean in person, after reading his blog for so long (link).
(Above: After the seminar, I stuck around, answered questions, posed for photos, and generally tried to avoid Dave and Glyn as long as possible, but Dave got this photo any way).
All Good Things…
After the seminar, I grabbed a quick bite with my seminar team, and then we headed back to the hotel to print boarding passes (exciting, eh?). Then it was off to sleep, a quick taxi ride to the airport (which cost only half of my ride from Heathrow Airport to the hotel when I got there. It literally cost me $160 US, from a licensed black taxi. That’s more than a Photoshop CS5 upgrade).
As I write this, I’m in New York, at JFK Airport, waiting for my flight back to Tampa. I just want to thank everyone who came out to make the seminar such a success. Great people, great times, and a big thanks to Dave, Glyn, and Ed for being such wonderful hosts, and friends, and for making me feel so at home, so far away from home.