(Today’s post is written by guest contributor Dale Welcome)

Paris, New York New York, Caesar’s, MGM, Bellagio’s, Mandalay Bay…..what’s happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right? Ah, but not this time!

Las Vegas was the site of last week’s Photoshop World conference hosted by the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) and its president, Scott Kelby. But what happened in Vegas just cannot just stay in Vegas…..its was all too good not to share!

What an extraordinary conference! Scott Kelby, world renowned instructors and artists and the NAPP staff put on quite a show, a tremendous learning experience, and truly a photographic inspiration.

By my guess, the conference had well over 3,000 participants and was hosted at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Resort. Aside from Kelby, instructors included the likes of Deke McClelland, Moose Peterson, Dave Cross, Matt Koslowski, John Paul Caponigro, Ben Willmore, Jay Maisel, Jeff Scheme, Joe McNally, and Corey Barker, to name a few. And the best part was that each was willing to share their knowledge, tips, experiences, and plenty of passion for the art and craft of photography.

I have attended many professional conferences, in photography as well as my various other “careers” over the last thirty years, and I cannot think of one in which I learned so much that “my head began to hurt!” I began the conference with a 4 hour Epson Print Academy workshop led by three artistic and technical masters; Jeff Scheme, Andrew Rodney and John Paul Caponigro. Over the course of the next 3 ½ days, I attended over 15 workshops ranging from still live studio shoots, portrait lighting techniques, retouching, Photoshop “jaw-dropping” tips, high dynamic range (HDR) imagery, color management, and fine art photography.

In addition to the sessions and great instructors, the tech expo itself was worth the price of admission. I spent over two hours talking and learning from Epson technical experts, doing hands-on demos of Wacom tablets (their 21” on-screen tablet is unbelievable!), trying the latest equipment, talking to print labs such as MPIX and listening to additional sessions sponsored by NAPP, Kelby Training and Microsoft on the expo floor.

However, with all of great instructors, equipment, demos, and photographic friends to meet, by far the most inspirational and capstone of the entire event was the 2 hour “digital panel” Friday night. After starting at 8:00 in the morning, I wasn’t sure I had the energy to make it through the last session of the day that ran from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. However, I am surely glad I didn’t miss this portion of the conference.

The panel consisted of some of the greatest digital photographic artists and teachers of our time. Each shared a slideshow or two of their personal work and passion as well spoke to the heart and soul they each put into their work. Words cannot describe the emotion these images evoked, the gesture they represented, the colors that impacted us, and visual stories they told. You simply had to be there to fully comprehend the significance of these works of art. These artists poured out their souls right before us.

I have returned from Las Vegas with a new sense of experimentation, inspiration and passion to this wonderful craft of photography that far exceeds the immense amount of learning I received from Photoshop World. We are truly blessed to be able to capture images with our cameras that tell visual stories, evoke emotion, paint palettes of color and record our reality as well an expression of what we might dream.

Go out and capture images!