San Francisco Behind-The-Scenes Trip Report
I saw this comment regarding my blog post on Friday about Photoshop’s 20th anniversary party:
How about a trip report from AFTER the festivities? Who you hung our with, where you ate, and what you reminisced about? Inquiring minds want to know!
So, I thought I’d give a little behind-the-scenes look, but I have to warn you up front; you’re going to be incredibly jealous of the bling-bling, glamorous lifestyle we experience during high profile events like this (wink). ;-)
Now Boarding: Coach Passenger Kelby
We started our trip on Wednesday morning, getting up at 5:00 am so we can catch the first of our two flights—-the first departing at 7:05 am. The plane was packed—there wasn’t an empty seat to be found (in Delta coach), and I got pinned in a window seat on the 5-hour leg beside two people who have bladders like a camel, because they never left their seat. I had to beg them for a bio-break.
Here’s a few shots of the crew in transit:
iPhone photo above: Corey and RC, my Coach class flying buddies.
Dave Cross snagged a bulk-head seat with plenty of leg room. Matt sat two seats to the right. I was about 20 rows behind. I wanted to fire them both. ;-)
Larry Becker ensuring that the drink carts were not to be used at any time.
Your car is in Spot 41B
Once we landed, we picked up our sweet ride—-a Toyota Camry rental car. Yeah baby—that’s how we roll!
Above: NAPP’s Nancy Massé and Dave Cross livin’ that high life in the back of our Camry. Matt was driving. We all were scared.
Fine Dining Ahead
After we got all situated, we split up in different cars, because Matt, my buddy Dave Moser (NAPP’s Chief Operating Officer), Paul Wilder (NAPP’s head of IT) and I wanted to make the 140 mile trip up to Big Sur to try and fit in a sunset shoot. First stop—-In & Out Burger in Burlingame. Of course, we missed the exit, so we had to wait until we reached Palo Alto to catch the one there. The car smelled like a giant onion for the rest of the trip. It was totally worth it.
As we were approaching Big Sur (near Carmel), we noticed this giant cloud off the coast. Matt called it “Marine Layer” which is California code for “massive fog bank.” Within a few minutes, it engulfed us, and we never saw the sun again. In fact, it was so foggy we never took our cameras out of our camera bags. The iPhone photo below (taken by Paul) does not begin to show the amount of fog that surrounded us. It’s wasn’t like there was a lot of fog. It was more like we drove into a cloud, which didn’t go away until (wait for it, wait for us….) we actually got back on the highway.
The weather looks not all that bad in this shot, right? Multiply the fog by a factor of 10 to get what it really looked like. You had to drive with your headlights on at 4:00 pm.
On the Road Again
After our busted shoot, we headed back to a restaurant in Burlingame that is a favorite of Dave and mine from our trips out to Adobe (it’s right close to SFO airport). It’s called Il Fronaio—a friendly Italian restaurant with a great atmosphere. By the time we were done with dinner, we were beat, but we were still about 45 minutes from our fabulous Sheraton hotel room, so we hit the road again.
Dawn shoot at the Golden Gate Bridge
Since we missed our sunset shoot, we get up at 5:00 am again for a dawn shoot. We’d try and catch sunrise coming up over the Golden Gate Bridge, but shot from up high in the Marin Hedlands, hoping to catch the clouds over the top of the bridge. If it was possible to have more fog than we did at Big Sur, we had it. It was so dense, we couldn’t even make out the outline of the bridge, even though we were so close we could hear the cars. We waited in the Camry until 1-hour past sunrise, then we went back to the hotel.
Breakfast with Adobe
We all met for breakfast at 9:30 am with some of our friends from the product marketing team at Adobe. We were going to have breakfast in the Sheraton, but some of video crew had eaten there the day before and warned us off. So, we went across the street to iHop (Oh yeah. Living that glamorous life!). A few of us did impromptu interviews into Flip Video cameras (for that ‘live on the scene” feeling), and then Dave and I headed out to a meeting with Peachpit Press about the upcoming iPad launch (hey, I want to make sure some of my books are on there, right?).
Above: That’s Nancy, our Social Media Ninja, Tweeting from iHop.
OK, Back to Work
After that meeting, we piled in the Camry and drove to the Palace of Fine Arts theater, where we accidentally parked as far as humanly possible from the entrance to the theater. We got inside, took a quick look around, and then I had to meet with the video crew, the band, and all the presenters to make sure everything was falling into place. I wound up sitting backstage, among the shipping boxes and cables, to create some slides we realized were missing, while Scriv edited some last minute video.
My assistant Kathy Siler was there (she put all the logistics together for this, and worked with Adobe to make this whole thing happen, and she did a marvelous job. She’s used to it—she does the same gig for all the Photoshop World keynotes, so she’s an old pro. I mean—“a pro.” She is NOT old!). She was even busier than I was the whole time, but I think she likes it that way.
I spent the whole time working in the back until Kathy showed up with box lunch for Scriv and I, with a roast beef sandwich, a pickle and a Diet Coke. Mmmm. Pickle. Anyway, it was about 90 minutes from the start, and the whole crew from Adobe had arrived, and we started loading the presentation files on the laptop, while Russell Brown finished setting up for his part of the presentation.
Cocktail Party Minus One
Adobe threw a welcome cocktail party in the theater lobby for all the guests, and I had planned to go out and visit with everybody, but we had a couple of issues with the AV stuff, so I wound up working backstage with the video crew until we opened the doors 15-minutes before showtime. I did a quick clothes change, and started going over my notes for my hosting duties, and then it was showtime, so I let our director know to start the opening movie (which we had filmed on location in Tampa a week earlier).
Teaching Photoshop is a blast for me, but hosting something like this, with me on stage without a computer in front of me, is pretty nerve-wracking, so as the pre-recorded voice over introduces me, I take a big breath and walk out trying not to look as nervous as I really am. As the night goes on, I get less and less nervous, but I’m never comfortable until I get to show some Photoshop tricks—then I feel right at home.
Russell Steals The Show
Once NAPP’s part of the show was over (a little over one hour into the evening), I introduced Adobe’s Photoshop evangelist Russell Preston Brown. I’ve known Russell for years, and he’s a not only a really great guy, but a teriffic presenter, so once I introduced him, I snuck out through a side door so I could watch his presentation from the audience. I have to say, Russell’s presentation was nothing short of brilliant. It was so incredibly clever, funny, wild, and just fun, that if there were an award for live stage demos, Russell would win it hands down for his presentation that night.
If you haven’t watched our rebroadcast of the night (link), you need to watch it for Russell’s presentation if nothing else. Yes, it was that good (ask anyone who saw it). People will be talking about this one for a while (that shot above, by RC Concepcion, is Russell during his presentation).
The Party’s Over. Time to Call it a Day
Right after the show, I finally got to meet some of the audience members (the first time since I got there), and I saw some old friends, and friends from Adobe, but then I got called away to pose for some group shots, and then everybody left, and we started packing up all our gear and stuff. At around 10:40 pm, Dave, Matt, RC, Corey and I piled in our trusty Camry and headed for the In & Out Burger near our hotel. We had a couple of burgers, but we were all beat, and headed back to the Sheraton.
There’s a reason why they call it “Fog City”
Our whirlwind trip is just about over, but Dave, Matt and I met in the hotel lobby to catch a quick breakfast bagel at Noah’s New York bagels on Chestnut street, not far from the hotel (awesome bagel place by the way).
Matt got up at dawn to try the Golden Gate dawn shoot from the Marin Hedlands again, and didn’t want to wake Dave and me up, so he headed out there by himself, only to be totally fogged-in once again. Then it was off to the airport for our sold out Coach flights home. I wrote as much as I could on the plane (I’m working on a book, as always), but I took a nap on the 2nd shorter leg from Atlanta. We left the hotel at 9:30 am, and I got back home in Tampa at just after midnight, tired as I could be, lugging all my camera gear which never, not once, came out of my camera bag. Every photo I took was with an iPhone. :(
The Glitz and the Glamor
Well, there’s a look into the glamorous lifestyle of the “Photoshop Guys,” filled with luxurious rental Camry’s, Sheraton hotel rooms, fast food, box lunches, and packed full coach flights.
Although this probably isn’t as glamorous of an experience as you might have imagined, I will tell you this—-we laughed our way from coast to coast. I am truly blessed to work with such a great crew of people, who make all the traveling like this an awful lot of fun (even in coach. OK, especially in Coach), so between all the work, and box lunches, we’re all just cracking up all the time.
I think that’s what makes the whole thing work. None of us take ourselves too seriously, so when things go wrong, or take too long, or we’re sitting on a dirty old couch backstage trying to make up some last minute slides—-it’s all good. We pretty much have fun no matter what the situation, or accommodations, so basically—-that’s really how we roll.