A Short Evaluation of a Series of Courses from Dave Cross’ Photoshop Summits

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A Short Evaluation of a Series of Courses from Dave Cross’ Photoshop Summits

April 22, 2024 admin 0 Comments


I will be sourcing these courses exclusively from the Adobe Creativity Virtual Summit – part of a series of summits hosted by Dave Cross, featuring numerous instructors in the digital arts fields. This series was hosted in March of 2023 and features some of the best digital artists and compositors currently in the field. I have been purchasing these courses as they have occurred as preparation for my own personal post-graduation education. As these courses are sponsored by Adobe, they prominently feature the works of more fine art photographers who use Adobe services like Photoshop to create their images. Photoshop education is by far the most lacking component I have recognized in my college program, and I believe these courses will help fill in the gaps of my formal education.

Course 1:

Cultivating a Message in Your Work: with Brooke Shaden

Brooke Shaden’s works are surreal compositions that radiate the qualities of a painting and visualize emotions intense enough to hit you in the gut on first glance. As a graduating portfolio student, my message and “voice” are things prominently on my mind and frankly it made creating some of my final class assignments very painful. Work like Brooke’s is not possibly created continuously on a weekly basis, it requires deep thoughtful consideration on the emotions and messages intended to be conveyed, it is prime example of what it takes to create “Fine Art.” It is the antithesis of everything revolving around “commercial” photography, whose only real “purpose” is to make money. As a frustrated commercial photography student, this course was nourishing to my soul and a great reminder to be looking forward to the completion of my degree when I can freely work on my own projects.

Course 2:

Creating Whimsical Stories Within Ps: with Joel Robison

Similar to Khara’s Mixed Media course, Joel demonstrates how to create entirely digital and unique compositions in Photoshop using actual photographs. In his demonstration image, he creates a composition of a man in a foresty-scene that appears to have either been shrunken down to a size smaller than a mushroom (or perhaps the mushroom and forest is gargantuan…) By simply blending a selection of images (the resting man, the mushroom, the blurred forest background) Joel creates an image that would undoubtedly require more time and money to be created “in-camera.” Many of these techniques are things I was hoping my degree courses would spend much more time on than occurred, Photoshop and digital processes have not seemingly made it into the forefront of photography education yet. I know I will be spending a lot of time with courses like this post-education.

Course 3:

Mixed Media Masterpiece: Step-by-Step: with Khara Plicanic

Khara demonstrates how to use various media digitally to create a unique and artistic piece. By utilizing elements sourced from other types of media (magazines, newspapers etc.) you can create compositions loaded with texture and depth that when used well, add artistic weight/balance to your images. For example, a background of texture details of newspapers and subjects pulled from magazines. These images are still created digitally but the textures and visual qualities of different types of media on the image create a collage-like effect that makes the images really pop. I definitely found this to be an interesting course, but I would like to push the idea even farther and physically blend different media together like newspaper actually heat pressed on to a photo.

Course 4:

Imitation Games: The Art of Learning by Mimicking: with Corey Barker

As a current student in the photography field, imitation is a daily effort to complete the various courses in my degree plan. In Corey’s course, he dissects how to find inspiration from your peers, by isolating unique effects or techniques that he would like to recreate in his own work. Corey explains how to recreate and reapply these techniques in your own unique ways to create compositions all your own. I know I will be spending a lot of my post-schooling time more thoroughly dissecting the techniques of the photographers I most idolize.

Course 5:

Plan and Conduct the Photoshoot: with Kirk Nelson

Kirk’s course lays out the details for planning a photoshoot for a Fine Art style portrait, showing how to get the idea out of your mind, on to paper, and then into an actual action plan for getting it done. This course again displays the power of Photoshop in creating images that would otherwise be very difficult or potentially even dangerous to create “in-camera.” Kirk demonstrates with a fantasy style portrait of a woman with a sword and flaming wings. These wings were created by capturing the effect of burning steel wool, this effect was then blended with the portrait to create his image. While I was already familiar with the particular blending technique Kirk displays in this course, to see it used in such a prominent way highlights the power of these tools when applied creatively.


Exploring these courses has certainly helped me justify having purchased them so long ago. As my current formal education ends, I can’t help but observe how many of the techniques and tools displayed in these courses failed to ever appear in my education. It is a bit cliché, but it is an absolute truth that learning never really stops, especially if we want to keep growing. These courses only further highlight the variations and subjective values that are possible in photography. I still value the education I received as it helped me develop the confidence to know I can teach myself in this field going forward. I recommend anyone interested in developing their skills in Photoshop explore these courses at https://www.davecrosssummits.com/?r_done=1

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