aliandme

So tonight I’m sitting in the lounge having coffee with Larry Becker (well, I’m not sure what Larry was having, but I was having regular coffee), and a Photoshop World attendee came up and introduced himself, and I immediately recognized his name because he had sent me a personal letter, with some of his photography, just a week or so before.

His name is Ali Rajabi (that’s Ali and I above, in an iPhone photo taken in the hotel lobby by Brad), and he came all the way to Orlando from Iran. I was just amazed!

First, he’s just an incredibly great guy (and a very talented photographer, with great Photoshop skills as well). We sat for a half an hour as he told us the story of how he wound up getting a visa to attend Photoshop World. He told us how hard it is for an Iranian to get permission from the U.S. State Dept. to visit the US, but he visited the American Consulate in Dubai, with samples of his work, and his completed applications, reasons why he wanted to come to America, etc..

As luck would have it; the State Dept. official reviewing his request was a photographer himself, and knew of NAPP and the Photoshop World conference. They started talking about Ali’s photos, and his use of HDR, and the conference, and before you knew it, he stamped his request “Approved,” (which Ali assured us is very rare).

Ali teaches Photoshop in Iran, and he has a lot of my books (he named them all), which he gets from a relative living in Spain, and he watches Matt, Dave, and me on Photoshop User TV, so he knows us very well (while we were talking, RC walked up and Ali’s shouts “Hey, it’s RC!!!!” and he’s smiling from ear to ear!). Larry Becker was at the table with me, and Larry invited Ali to write a tutorial for the NAPP member Website, so hopefully we’ll have something up there from him soon, which will definitely be a first.

It was just a really fun experience to meet someone from so far away, who shares our same passions for Photoshop and photography, and I know he’s going to have a blast while he’s here (he told me “I’m going to Joe McNally and Moose’s Pre-Conference workshop tomorrow” (after a day with Joe and Moose, he’s going to take back some wild stories to Iran).

If you’re here at Photoshop World, and you see Ali in between sessions, on the show floor, or in class, I hope you’ll make him feel welcome. He’s not a government official of Iran. He’s a photographer. He’s a Photoshop instructor. He’s just like us, and he loves this stuff as much as we do, (and besides, he’s an incredibly warm, friendly guy, and he’d love it if you just said “hi” and offered a friendly smile).

When I meet people like Ali, it just reminds me that people all around the world are more the same than they are different. It’s just that we don’t usually get to meet them face-t0-face. If we did, I bet we’d find that we have much more in common, and much more to offer each other, than our governments would ever let us believe.

Here’s to a great Photoshop World, and to making new friends, wherever they may hail from.

About The Author

Scott is the President of KelbyOne, an online educational community for Photographers, Photoshop and Lightroom users. He's editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, Conference Technical Chair for the Photoshop World Conference & Expo, and the author of a string of bestselling Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography books.

52 Comments

  1. It’s just that we don’t usually get to meet them face-t0-face. If we did, I bet we’d find that we have much more in common, and much more to offer each other, than our governments would ever let us believe.

    no more comments Mr. Scoot :)

  2. Scott,

    What a great post! I am happy to hear Ali made it and, I believe, through sharing our knowledge we can make the world a better place.

  3. I LOVE this story! I bet lots of people will make Ali feel welcome at Photoshop World. (I wish I was there…)

  4. i love this kind of stories…very emotional…great that you both had a nice get-together

  5. Scott,

    What a lovely post; Ali will be so made up to see you’ve written that.

    On a personal note, when I first travelled over from the UK and came to PS World Las Vegas a few years ago, which incidentally was my first time to the US and I came alone, I’ll admit I was incredibly excited but also a little apprehensive. However, that feeling of apprehension disappeared almost in an instant when when I started meeting and chatting to some of the other attendees; everyone was just so incredibly warm and friendly.

    Since that time I’m real glad to say that I’ve kept in touch with people that I met out at PS World; people who I am proud and honoured to call friends … A.J. Wood & Todd Mills; two of the nicest and most genuinely good people I’ve ever had the privilege if meeting.

    PS World has so much more to it than being an incredible learning experience and for that and many more reasons I will definitely be returning one day; 2011 is going to be quite a year what with GPP 2011 a Santa Fe Workshop and PS World but I’m ready…lol

    All the best to you,
    Glyn

  6. I hope Ali has lots of fun at Photoshop World. It will be an incredible experience. I spent several years in the Middle East and as Abdullhameed said we do have lots in common.

  7. And a Manchester United fan to boot! Go Red Devils! Go Ali!

  8. That’s a nice post.

    Always nice to read about read from all parts of the world and what they do. It’s always inspiring to read more of people from the same field and how they are going through and make it possible.

    I feel people like Ali are needed in countries like Iran, Israel and more where lot of life is lost in wars. Ali and other artists are a hope to the nation.

    Well done Scott and Ali :)

  9. Thanks Scott! This is the kind of attitude the world needs. It breaks down walls. Where political rhetoric dehumanizes the other, relationships and stories like this help us see the other as human – and how much we are the same.

  10. It’s true, we are so much more alike when we get to meet each other. Welcome, Ali! :)

  11. We could think of photography and PS as the great equalizer, I enjoyed reading about your meeting up with Ali. Wish I was there to say welcome also.

  12. Thanks for posting the comment about folks being the same everywhere. Maybe there are some photographers — and NAPP members — working for the government, and maybe this message will find its way back to those who insist on focusing on the differences.

  13. What a wonderful post. All too often we are subjected to propoganda and hysteria with regards to our fellow human beings living in Middle Eastern countries. It’s a shame to say that much of this dehumanization is propogated by the very forms of media that we photographers earn our living from. As photographers I like to think that we are above all of this rhetoric and that we see our fellow human beings as equals and worthy of our interest no matter what political or religious regime they may live under. Full marks to Ali for making the effort to attend the conference and to meet up with fellow photographers from around the world. Hopefully I can make the same effort soon.

  14. Believe me, I’d kill to have a chance to go there too! I’m a big fan, I’ve got your books and I subscribe to your online training every now and then, but boy is it hard to go there if you’re coming from a third world country (the Philippines). Pretty much everything’s just so much more expensive there!

  15. Hey Scott & Ali,
    a really nice touching post.
    Scott, maybe you coould invite Ali to be a guest blogger one day.
    I bet it would be interesting to see the world from Ali’s point of view.
    Best regards,
    Alex

  16. I can’t wait to see Ali’s tutorial on NAPP! Congrats Ali!

  17. Scott,

    Great post! What a treat to meet such a wonderful human being.

    Your last paragraph reminded of the message I read in a local Starbucks during the holiday season last year:

    “I wish everyone could see how much we all have in common”

    May we, as passionate moment seekers, continue to bridge the gap!

  18. This totally makes my day. You are so right, Scott, and represent all that is best in the United States. Being welcoming and inclusive is America at its best. Let’s all do our part to follow Scott’s great example and great things can truly happen. Welcome to NAPP, Ali.

  19. Very cool. Great that everything worked out and he was able to attend.

    Glenn N

  20. Great post Scott. Thanks you very much.

    Good luck to Ali… looking forward to seeing his Guest Blog post in the near future.

  21. Welcome to America Ali! I’m glad that you encountered some of our best ambassadors right away. Blessings to you – Enjoy your stay.

  22. In many ways I know how Ali must feel. I was a US Air Force and Air Nat’l Guard pilot who flew heavies (that’s big airplnes) for about 28 years and in that role I got to visit a rather significant portion of our planet. I learned very early, particularly on long deployements when you really had a chance to meet the “locals” that we were far more alike than different. And I also attended a Photoshop World in Boston where I knew no one only to find that most of us were just photographers, not pro or amateur, not a Nikon, Canon, or Point and Shoot guy, but just photographers who wanted to learn.

    There is a certain strangeness to our world, being a place where we have multiple common interests, see and hear the Photoshop Guys and the Kelby On-line Instructors (in my case anyway, almost daily) when we finally see them upclose we are amazed that they really have no idea who we are; yet they still manage to find several minutes to chat and make you feel like what you are, a fellow photographer.

    My heros have long been photographers and it’s alway a kick when the likes of Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, Jeff Schewe, Andrew Rodney, Joe McNally, David Ziser and Laurie Excell and others can take a minute to say Hi and maybe comment on the moment at hand. Maybe the Internet is the real secret to peace and harmony across our world.

    That was kind of sappy, but it is something I’ve wanted to share for a long time.

    And Ali, have a good time while you’re here and spread the word when you get home.

  23. Welcome Ali, sure wished I could be there also! It just goes to show how this great art we call photography is everywhere (so is Scott and NAPP). Hope you have a great time here in the greatest country on Earth! Have a safe trip home.

  24. What a fantastic Story Scott. Thanks so much for sharing. The fact that you’d take the time to post this really makes me smile. I love the heart you have for this community.

    Ali, have a great time.

  25. Hi Scott,
    I’m Ahmad and Ali is my best friend in Iran
    I’m Ali’s portfolio & website Designer.
    We have a lots of problem in this country about coming to America but all the time Ali & me when watch Photoshop user’s TV an Kelby training movie ,we said if a day when we can come to America and see Scott, Larry, Katrine, Tomas ,that’s day is end of the world for us. Meet you is my dream and was Ali’s dream.
    Today I’m really happy when I saw Ali in your website, I cried and I can’t write anything but this matter is best gift in my life.
    I wish Ali’s retouching be the first in Photoshop world and I wish I can participate in a Photoshop world and I wish see you and your team work soon.
    Thank you Scott, Thank you Scott, Thanks GOD

    • Hi Ahamad,

      Good friends are indeed a treasure and you let me see how rich your friendship with Ali is I thank you, we should all be so lucky to have friends such as you. Thank you for posting Ali’s website (I have bookmarked it and look forward to visiting it from time to time. It shows great talent and Iran as I would like to see it. ) Undoubtedly Ali is talented, as are you in building such a nice website.

      Sincerely, Al

  26. Hey Scott,
    Be sure Ali gets a Midnight Madness ticket and meets V as well. I was touched by your writeup on him and his adventure, but when I read Ahmed’s response above I was brought to tears literally.
    Have a great time at PhotoshopWorld Ali and a great time in America as well.
    Mike

  27. This is such a great story Scott! So heart warming, it is really great to see how truly connected humans are despite political and geographic barriers. Can’t wait to see his guest blog and NAPP tutorial. Really hope I get to meet him at PSW!

  28. “If we did, I bet we’d find that we have much more in common, and much more to offer each other, than our governments would ever let us believe.”

    Amen to that

  29. WOW! What a great story. Make Ali welcome so he can return home and tell everyone how much fun he had at PSW. Got that lump in my throat while reading Ahmad’s post. He’s is so excited for Ali, I could feel it. I’ve yet to attend but trying to make it to Las Vegas. Will see Dave in Columbus, OH next month to get a sample of Photoshop Guys.

  30. Scott,

    Thanks for sharing this story. I am so glad Ali was able to make the trip to PSW. I can’t wait to see his guest blog. I hope Ahmad gets the opportunity to atten PSW some day as well.

  31. Very cool story. I’m so happy that Ali was able to make it. Not only has he made it, but I’m sure he’s going to be the star to show now. I think I might have gotten something in my eye when I read Ahmed’s post.

    I think I found Ali’s website: http://www.alirajabi.com

    It’s not the easiest to navigate due to the language differences, but I managed. Great work Ali.

  32. Scott –

    Thank you for sharing this great story! Difficult to add to the wonderful sentiments you and everyone here have already shared. I’m grateful to know there are genuine souls such as yourself who take the time to welcome others, encourage, support and inspire others *and* I am equally grateful for individuals like Ali who will go to such great lengths and overcome so many barriers to pursue a dream of peace, happiness and the joy of creativity! PSW has become something much bigger than it was just 1 day ago!

    :-)

    Ali, you Rock! Look forward to your tutorial and likely guest blog here in the future!

    Thanks Scott!

    Doug

  33. Scott ~

    Like others have mention, great story! My wife is from Iran, so it’s alway nice to hear stories like these that somehow break down divides and reinforces that we are all human. In this case, Photoshop World being the binding factor. Photoshop truly transcends borders. Now there’s a tag line and if you use it hook me up with credit. ;-) Looking forward to the tutorial and/or blog post.

    ~Erick

  34. Wow nice to see people from all over the world coming together at Photoshop World…must be really great!!

  35. “people all around the world are more the same than they are different. It’s just that we don’t usually get to meet them face-t0-face. If we did, I bet we’d find that we have much more in common, and much more to offer each other, than our governments would ever let us believe.”

    Amen, Scott!! We have traveled on all 7 continents and totally agree with this statement. Another wonderful example of why we must talk to each other………..

  36. Nice posting Scott, a great personal story. I hope Ali enjoys his time out there with all you guys. I’m sure it’ll be a wonderful experience.
    Just wish either I could get there one year from over here in the UK, or a similar event(s) could take place over here.
    Hey Glyn – maybe when you get back from your PSW US trip in 2011, you could give us photographer here in old Blighty an extensive debrief ;-)

  37. I loved this story … dreams do come true.

  38. Well Done Ali

    Scott ali is one of the best photoshop users in Iran, don’t miss him

  39. Dear Scott,
    I know you very well since last year..just let me tell you how much i enjoyed your lovely attitude on this. telling you that Ali is the right choice.He is an incredible instructor and he deserves this.So, welcome him( as i see you do )since i’m sure that his tutorial will be unique and outstanding ..he is something,believe me.

  40. THANK YOU ALL for Your LOVE AND SUPPORT , GOD BLESS YOU …… I have NOTHING TO SAY ……. THANKS MY DEAR SCOTT , THANKS …….

  41. Hello Dear Scott ,
    Hello Dear ALI ,

    I’M From Iran Ans ALi Rajabi Is My Best Teacher .
    Ali is one of the best photoshop users in Iran, don’t miss him .

  42. What a great story and awesome Ali could meet Scott Kelby and team. What a treat.

    I am enjoying Napp online, while living in my home town in Germany right now. But going back to the US very soon. Thank’s to the internet – it is bringing the whole (Photoshop-) world together and I did’nt miss a thing, while beeing a photoshop memmber.

    Auf Wiedersehen!
    Alieta

  43. Well . Ali Was My teacher 8 years ago :) now evrything i know about photoshop all are cause of him and his knowledge which shared’em with us , I Just Can Wish Ali : Luck , Peace , Brightness and happiness , Wherever He ‘s … Cheers ALi

  44. Wow, what a great story! Such a wonderful experience for everyone involved. Best of luck to Ali.

  45. You had some nice points here. I done a research on the topic and got most peoples will agree with your blog.

  46. Hi
    Ali is the best teacher of mine in Iran and now we proud of him because of his successful.
    we have a lot of problem in this country about coming to America but I’m so happy for him.
    I wish I would’ve seen you one day like Ali.
    I sent you a mail and I wonder if you’d mind replying me.
    thank you scott.

  47. You gave great points here. I made a research on the subject and found nearly all peoples will agree with your blog.

  48. It’s always these kinds of articles that when you find them, you are very thankful for your set of skills that you have worked hard for. Even if they aren’t paying off much, the fact of the matter is you will always have them and someone will always take notice if you try hard enough.

    Awesome article!

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