Monthly Archives February 2008


After last week’s now infamous “8 second gap” I somewhat hesitate to say this, but tonight, there is a more than a reasonable chance that at 1:30 am (same time in each time zone), Photoshop User TV will make it’s “real” television debut on Fox Business channel.

So now, there’s another reason to stay up late tonight—because at this point it’s more than a Photoshop show—it’s a soap opera (Will it air tonight? Did they time it right? Did the tape get there in time?—-the only way to know for sure, is to stay up late with Dave, Matt, and I as we sweat each and every cable-delivered moment).

So, don’t touch that dial, pour yourself an extra cup of hi-test, sit back and at 1:30 am you’ll be treated to either “The Photoshop Guys” or an informercial for “The Juicer” (which is what ran in our spot last week). There’s only one way to know….


(Note: This is the “non-Photoshop, non-photography” piece I talked about on Friday–see Friday’s post).

I think many of us can look back on where we started and point to an event that changed the way you think, or the way you did business, that helped get you where you are in your career today.

Mine happened about 16 years ago. My wife I had started a graphic design company, based in a one-room office we sub-let in the back of a direct mail business. My graphic design hero back then was Clement Mok. If you’re a designer today, you’re no doubt familiar with Clement’s amazing work (he was the graphic designer on Apple’s original Macintosh team, and built the foundation of Apple’s graphic “look,” but that’s just one stop in his amazing design career). Anyway, I just thought he was “the man.”

It was a couple of weeks before my brother, my buddy John Couch, and I were going to San Francisco on vacation, and I mentioned to my brother that Clement’s offices were in San Francisco. I was telling him how I would love to meet him, see his offices, and just bask in his glow (so to speak). So my brother says, “Why don’t you ask him?” I said, “Are you nuts? You don’t just ASK him! He’s Clement Mok!” He was like, “Why not? He’s a designer. He’s probably a pretty cool guy. Why don’t you just ask him?”

I asked him
So, after much hand-wringing, I wrote him a letter, on my design company’s letterhead, telling him he was my hero, and that I would be out there on vacation, and could I come by his offices for just 15 minutes to meet him and see his offices. So, I held my breath, and faxed it over to him (that’s right—this was before the Internet. Scary, I know). I didn’t hear anything for a few days, and I figured if he got the fax at all, he trashed it.

Then one night, I’m working late (in that little sub-let office), and a fax starts coming in. By now, I had lost any notion that it would be Clement, but as it was coming through I saw his logo on the top of the fax, and I thought, “It’s late at night. Here comes the “Thanks, but…” letter, but instead, hand-written, it said, “How’s Friday. About 3-ish?” I fell over! I went running around my dark empty office with the fax held high over my head (there was no-one there to high-five). I called my wife, my brother, my design buddies—anybody who would listen!

Off to San Francisco
Well, the day came for me to meet him, and I found his office (there was no GPS, no Google Maps. I don’t know how people got along back then). Anyway, when I got in the elevator, I didn’t see his name listed, but the top floor button had a bear playing with an Apple on it (it was his logo). I thought, “Cool! Top Floor,” and I went up. I was a bit caught off guard when the elevator doors opened because I wasn’t in a hallway outside his office; it opened smack dab in the middle of his office (he had the entire floor), and there was no reception desk, so after a few moments of looking like the Florida boy lost in the big city, somebody came up, asked if they could help, and then led me to a conference room.

Clement came in and I tried to act as professional as possible, but I was about coming out of my skin. He was just wonderful. He didn’t spend 15 minutes with me. I was there for well over an hour (much to the chagrin of my brother and John, who were waiting down in the parking lot).

He showed me around his incredibly cool offices (which was full of talented designers working for him), and showed me his portfolio and how they worked, and their other conference room (which was outdoors, overlooking the San Francisco skyline), and he showed me some Mac-based Kiosks he had done for Apple, and anyway—I was just blown away with everything; from how generous he was with his time, to his way cool offices, to the kind of work he was doing, to how he never made me feel like I was just some schmuck from Florida (which is exactly what I was).

Letting It All Sink In
Anyway, I left that meeting on cloud 9, and not just because he saw me, but because he was so “real” and regular. A regular, nice guy, but doing extraordinary things, and it really helped me to believe that although I couldn’t be a Clement Mok, I wanted to be doing that kind of work, I wanted to do big things, and to do that I had to aim a lot higher than a small room in the back of a direct mail company.

I came back from that trip totally energized, and before long my wife and I had come up with a game plan that soon had us in our own really cool offices (not nearly as cool or as large as Clement’s, mind you), which led to us getting higher profile clients, and charging more for our work, and we were finally getting the type of jobs I’d always dreamed of. After struggling for years (and I mean struggling), we were finally making a decent living doing advertising design, and we were loving it!

Then, in 1993, we (along with our friends Jim Workman, and Jean A. Kendra), just for fun (and partially for the prospect of getting free software to review), we started Mac Today, a free, tabloid-sized newspaper for Tampa Bay Area Macintosh users. This took off, and soon became Mac Today Magazine, which went on newsstands nationwide. This later became Mac Design magazine, which today is now called “Layers Magazine; the how-to magazine for everything Adobe.”

It was starting that magazine and that really got me into using Photoshop, and getting into Photoshop got me into teaching Photoshop, which led to us producing one-day seminars, which eventually led to forming NAPP, writing books, doing training DVDs, and online training.

We’ve gone from just the two of us (my wife and I), to the four of us, to now nearly 80 full-time employees. Today I have my own in-house staff made up of some absolutely brilliant graphic designers—people I look up to–led by the amazing Felix Nelson, (that’s them in the photo above, taken from the door of my office—click on it to see a larger view and who’s who) and they’re so talented, creative, and productive that I’d put them up against any team in the business. The work they do consistently blows me away, and every day they go far beyond what I ever did as a graphic designer, and I totally love it!

A Mental Turning Point
That meeting with Clement Mok was a real mental turning point for me. Although the work he was doing was far beyond what I was doing, or would ever do, meeting him made it seem a lot closer, and something to shoot for, rather than something I could only dream about. It started me down a path that led me here, and I couldn’t be happier with where my career path has taken me. I truly love my job, and thank God every day that I get to do what I do for a living.

Maybe this is why when people ask if they can come by NAPP’s Headquarters and meet me, I always see them (even though my assistant and co-workers want to kill me, because it gets me off track from what I’m supposed to be working on). (NOTE: This is not an invitation for everybody to come to NAPP’s headquarters and hang out—please don’t get me in trouble over this).

As Time Goes By
Anyway, I’ve told this story to friends over the years, but as I write this I realize that I’ve never talked or corresponded with Clement Mok since that day back in 1991. My fault. I should have. I guess the real reason is; he probably doesn’t have any recollection of meeting me, and if I contacted him it would be awkward for both of us. But even though he probably doesn’t remember, it sure was a day I’ll never forget.


The first in a series of online classes from Photoshop Hall of Famer, and Canon Explorer of Light, Eddie Tapp, created exclusively for just went live late last week. Eddie’s first course for us is called: “Key Photoshop Techniques” and the class includes an introduction to Photoshop Blend modes and Masks as well.

Check out a free preview of Eddie’s new class right here.

I know it’s out of character for me to blog at this late hour, but I just found out about something cool happening tomorrow, and thought you’d want to know about it tonight.

Shawn King (the host of the popular Your Mac Life radio show, and digital photography hound dog), is hosting a worldwide “PhotoWalk” tomorrow (Saturday) morning from 9:00 am to 9:10 am (Shawn doesn’t have a very long attention span). ;-)

You only shoot between those 10 minutes, then you upload your favorites to a flickr group Shawn has created for the PhotoWalk. He plans on doing it on the 9th of every month, and tomorrow’s the first one, so don’t miss out. If I’m anywhere around a camera at 9:00 tomorrow morning, I’m going shoot like blazes for 600 seconds.

Here’s the link to Shawn’s site with all the details. We now return you to the silent nothingness that I usually produce at this time of night. :)


That’s right—I’ve bounced back from “the ickies,” I’m back in the office today, and boy is great to feel good!!! Whooo Hoo!!!!! :) Now, for some Friday news stuffage:

  • First, yesterday Steve Beck, (one of my blog readers who was sick at home, too, and wanted to lift my spirits with some inspirational photography) sent me this link to the photography of Rarindra Prakarsa from Jakarta, Indonesia. His work just made me say, out loud, WOW! If you are a lover of gorgeous light, wonderful composition, and some tasty Photoshop work, this photographer’s images (some thumbnails are shown above, which don’t do his work any justice–you’ve got to see them large) will speak to your soul. Thanks to Steve, for brightening my day yesterday, and hopefully many more folks today. (Here’s the link again, just in case).
  • Next, the DSLR Dad site has pointed out what must be the “Jump to Photoshop CS3” Deal of the decade. If you know anyone who has dreamed of using “the real deal,” but didn’t have quite enough cash, then check out this deal before it’s too late.
  • John Nack, over at John Nack on Adobe, posted that the ACE Exam for Photoshop CS3 is now available. Here’s the link with more info.
  • If you’re a Font Freak (like me), then check out this new font called “Sweetheart Script”, from Typadelic. You can see it in’s newsletter (they’re where I buy most of my type these days). Here’s the link to their Feb. newsletter (it’s a regular Web page), which features a large sample of the font, and link to other stuff. (The font’s only $19 bucks. I had to buy it. Don’t tell my wife. Oh, actually it’s OK. She’s a font freak, too!).
  • Hey, if you want to go to the upcoming Photoshop World Conference & Expo coming up in April (the 2nd thru 4th, in Orlando, Florida), on the cheap, then save $100 by registering before the Early Bird Cutoff on Feb. 29, 2008 (Leap Year day). Here’s the link to sign up now, while the gettin’s good!
  • Want to know more about Adobe’s DNG Raw format? Terry White, over at the Creative Suite Podcast, has a 12-minute video tutorial called “Why DNG” that will show you all the ins-and-outs (here’s the link), and Derrick Story has a fascinating audio interview on his Podcast with Adobe’s Julianne Kost on DNG, and what it’s all about. Here’s the link to Julieanne’s interview.
  • Just a quick word of thanks to everyone here who sent their “Get Well” wishes this past week. I know this sounds silly, but it really meant a lot.
  • Monday Warning: On Monday I’m posting a story that isn’t about photography or Photoshop, it’s more about life and business, and the people we meet in both. It’s from a real life event that happened to me that helped shape my entire career, and as you might expect; there’s a message in there (but you’ll have to read it to get it). It’s more personal than what I usually write here, and took a lot longer to write as well, but hey—I was sick in bed, right? Just so you know; I get reflective when I get a really bad sinus infection. ;-)

Well, that wraps up this “week of sicky sickness,” and we’ll see you all next week! Stay healthy everybody, and in the immortal words of Nick Feldman and Jack Hues, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight….Everybody Wang Chung Tonight.” Truly, words to live by. Peace out. Word. Etc..


From the sickbed, in the offices of Sneezer, Coughing & Hacker, comes my Thursday News Quickies. Please don your surgical masks.

  • There are only SIX seats left for Wedding Photographer/Instructor extraordinairre, David Ziser’s “Digital Master Class” coming to Cincinnati, Ohio on April 28th, thru May 2nd (that’s David above). I’ll make this short and sweet: I went to one of David’s Photoshop World pre-conference sessions, and I tell you the same way I told my staff when I came back. “It’s like David is walking around stuffing money in their pockets the entire time.” Here’s the link for more info (Just so you know: if you get to go, I’m totally jealous!)
  • See Joe McNally training Live. For FREE!!!! Remember last week, when I mentioned B&H Photo’s Event Space, where they give free training at their headquarters in NYC? Well, David Brommer (from B&H) posted a comment on my blog that Joe is doing a free two-hour free seminar, and book signing, on Sunday Feb. 17th, from 1:00 – 3:00 pm at B&H’s Event Space. You just gotta be there. Here’s the info.
  • There’s a nice little article over at National Geographic Traveler called “Five ways to use the Web to help you become a better photographer.” It’s short and sweet, and definitely worth a read (it also includes some very cool sites, like The Strobist, and Luminous Landscape).
  • Even shorter and sweeter (but if I don’t mention this, my publisher will kill me); Peachpit Press announced yesterday that for the fourth year in a row, I’ve been recognized as the top-selling computer/technology book author across all platforms (according to data from Neilsen Bookscan). You can read the press release here.
  • This one’s just for fun: it’s a new Canon lens that’s….well….you just gotta see it to believe it. It’s worth a click (click here).
  • Lastly, if you’re like me (at home, sick in bed), you could probably use a little photographic inspiration. If so, click here to see some of the wonderful photography of commerical photographer Wes Johnson. The site’s a little tricky to navigate at first, but it’s worth the extra 15 seconds it takes to figure it out. Here’s the link.

Well, it’s back to bed for me. Have a great day everybody, and don’t forget to wash your hands, use hand sanitizing liquids, don’t leave your house if you even cough one single time, don’t have contact with other humans (except via the web), sanitize and disinfect anyone that comes within a 50-foot radius of you, and most importantly, be kind to children and small animals. Can you tell I’m on medication? ;-)