10years
I’ll start this off by saying this is a total personal blog post. Part of the reason I started this blog was so I could post personal things too. So if you’re after Photoshop, Lightroom or photography stuff then skip this one :)

So…last week I had my yearly physical, but I went to a new doctor. The nurse came in first to take my weight, blood pressure and all that, and then went over my medical history. Something came up that happened 10 years ago, and she asked how old I was when it happened. I said 30. Then she looked at my birthdate and said “Look at you… you’ve got a big birthday coming up in a few days”. That day is today.

She then proceeded to tell me that she was 33 and that her 30th birthday seemed so far gone. She asked whether or not 30 felt like it was a long time ago for me. I told her no. That I could remember exactly what I did for my 30th birthday. I remember exactly who I was with, where we went, where we ate, what we did after. I remember that my wife was 7 months pregnant with my 2nd son, and that she volunteered to be the designated driver with a group of friends, should we decide to partake in various spirits throughout the night. While she did indeed drive as we embarked on a fun evening out, she called it a night around 1am and encouraged me to to stay out with my friends a while longer. My mother always told me never to argue with a pregnant woman so I didn’t :-)

Anyway, it got me thinking about the last 10 years and how things have changed. I think, because what I teach is such a personal passion to so many people, I get plenty of personal questions in addition to the usual Photoshop and photography ones. So I just thought it would be cool to share the last 10 years of my life (something I’ve never done). Hopefully you’ll find it mildly interesting and maybe even helpful

Here Goes Nuthin’:
• First and foremost, I’m most proud of raising two young amazing sons to 10-ish years old (one is 11 and the other is 9). They’re the most amazing boys a dad could ever wish for. I’m incredibly proud of each of them, and it’s been one crazy ride watching them grow up so far. I can only imagine what the future will hold. But right now, Dad seems to be their hero and I love the ages they’re at, so I’m not rushing it.

• Back in 2003, when I turned 30 I was seriously trying to write a book (I had been for years before that). It was always a dream of mine to be a writer, and I was submitting my Photoshop book proposals to anyone that would accept. I’d been rejected many times by that point. But a few months after turning 30, I got my first book deal (on an Illustrator book oddly enough).

• Since turning 30, I’ve now authored or co-authored over 15 books (new books as well as new editions). Several have even been best-sellers and my Photoshop Compositing book actually made it to the Amazon Editors Top 10 Picks of the year for 2011. Many of the books you probably never heard of, and it wasn’t until the last 4-5 books I’ve written that I actually started hearing people say “I have your book!”. Even better, “I have your book and it’s helped me tremendously!”. It took a while, but what a rewarding thing to hear.

• My books have been translated into over 12 languages around the world.

• Years ago, I remember watching my kids at a Taekwondo martial arts class. I’d always wanted to practice martial arts and hopefully get my black belt one day. It was at that moment I realized I should just do it. So I did. I joined a school and have practiced Taekwondo 4-5 times per week since then. I earned my 1st degree black belt back in October of 2011, and am currently working on my 2nd degree.

• Being an (extremely) competitive person, I wasn’t able to get into Taekwondo without getting into competitions. I’m very proud to report that in 2012 I won the Florida State Champion title in all 3 categories that it’s availble (Sparring, Forms, and Weapons – the triple crown as they call it), for the 30-39 age group.

• I’m equally happy to have made it to the World Championship tournament last June for the sparring competition. That’s where the top 10 men in my 30-39 age group (in the world) are put together to compete. I made it to the final round against the only guy who had ever beaten me to date. We had a great fight and it could have gone either way. He was an excellent fighter though, and pulled ahead to win by a point. I’m usually very competitive, and 2nd place might as well be 100th place to me. But this is a 2nd place medal that I hang proudly in my office at home.

• I ran two 26 mile marathons in my 30′s. I’d even go as far to say that I’m now in better shape today, than when I was 20.

• 10 years ago you couldn’t find a saw in my garage. Today, my wife and I have proudly installed 2 wood floors and crown molding throughout our house (the first wood floor got flooded by the washing machine so we had to install another one) ;)

• All of the photos in my photography portfolio have been taken in while I was in my 30′s.

• I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to travel to nearly all 50 states (there’s only 6 I haven’t been to) and many international trips as well. Even better I’ve gotten to bring my family to some of these places and show my kids that there’s more to the world than beaches and palm trees (even though we love our beaches and palm trees) :)

• 10 years ago I was writing code in ASP, C++, Visual Basic, and SQL Server, as well as developing interfaces for web applications. I was doing all of my photography and Photoshop work/writing/teaching on the side at night and on my own time. 9 years ago I got a call from the HR person at Kelby Media Group. The next day I was in an interview with Scott. The day after that I got a job offer for the job of my dreams. I had no idea what I’d really be doing, or where it would lead, but I jumped at it and it’s been the most rewarding career I could have ever dreamed of.

• I now have some uncountable number of online courses, articles, training DVDs and even have my own Lightroom seminar tour that travels around the country. I never thought I’d have the opportunities to share my training with people like I have.

• 10 years ago I was an attendee at Photoshop World. Today I’m an instructor and will teach at my 17th Photoshop World this April.

• I got to be a part of one of the first ever and most successful Photoshop training webcasts out there (Photoshop TV). To give you an idea, when I started 9 years ago, we had something called Photoshop Radio and it was an audio only podcast. Pretty crazy to even think that we used to teach Photoshop without actually showing Photoshop. Now, years later we’re still doing Photoshop TV and I still get to be a part of it.

• And finally, I’ve had the extreme pleasure of meeting and working with some of the finest people in the industry. People that 10 years ago I could have only dreamed to meet and work with. What a wild ride it’s been.

What’s Next?
So what’s next? I’m not really sure. Of course, family is first. I’m pretty sure some of the hardest years are ahead of me with my kids, so I’ll of course concentrate on that. I plan to continue writing books and making training videos. I’d love to travel more and continue to shoot beautiful landscapes around the world. My goal is to do what I can to get into some more remote places, and bring some truly unique photos to the world. I’d love to run a marathon in under 4-hours but I’m not sure I’m going to take running up again, so I may have to pass on that goal. I’ll continue with Taekwondo as long as I can. This will probably be my last competition year, as I have some hip problems (mostly hereditary), that can only be corrected with surgery. When I don’t train and compete at a high level, they don’t tend to bother me as much. So I may have to pull back to avoid a surgery, that doesn’t even have a guarantee of making me that much better. It’ll alleviate some of the pain I have, but that’s it and I’m not sure it’s all worth it. We’ll see. But man would I love to take home that World Championship this year.

Thank You!
As I mentioned earlier, 10 years ago I would have NEVER thought that I’d have these chances to share my training with people. Seriously, not in a million years. It’s crazy to see where just 10 quick years has taken me. And I owe it to all of you that are reading this, for giving me that opportunity. As much as I love photography and I love hearing people say they like one of my photos, there is absolutely nothing as rewarding as hearing some one tell me that my training has helped them achieve their photography and Photoshop visions and abilities. It is hands-down the best compliment anyone has ever given me.

Thanks for stopping by and, well, just thank you! :)

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