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It's Time to say Farewell

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Seven and a half years ago, the 8th January 2007 to be exact, I sat down and recorded my first ever video tutorial – a demonstration of how to create a realistic lightning bolt in Photoshop and add it seamlessly to a photograph I’d taken the year before in Utah, USA.

At the time of creating that video tutorial I had no idea what would follow. I had no plans to record more content, no plans to grow an online presence, and certainly no intention to run and manage my own community. That made me think. How did I get from where I was back then to where I am today – and where has all that darn time gone?

I’d always been one for taking photographs. Not for business or money but for pleasure, to document the things around me and perhaps more importantly, the people. I bought a digital camera before they were the ‘norm’ and have photos in my digital archive going back to 2001. It was never about the art of photography, for me it was much more about being able to look back and have a physical copy of the memories, the good times and the bad. My love of cameras and photography naturally coincided with a fascination for software that could help me keep everything organised and looking good. My edits started off small and were very often obvious but I learnt my craft the hard way – by using the software, making mistakes and figuring out what worked and what didn’t.

Behind every student there’s a great teacher and for me it was a guy named Deke McClelland. I always found his books extremely thorough and engaging and still have 5-6 of them on my bookshelf now. The point at which I became completely inspired by his knowledge and understanding of the trade was whilst watching one of his video courses for Total Training (he works for Lynda.com these days) on the subject of Photoshop CS2. Most video tutorials I’d watched up until that point were dull, monotone and slow. Deke’s were light hearted, even humorous at times but never failed to leave their mark. He was the ultimate Photoshop geek whose technical understanding of the product was phenomenal, and his ability to teach and mentor was beyond compare.

So where did I get my inspiration from to do what I did? The answer is Deke McClelland. When I sat down to watch his Photoshop CS2 video series it not only strengthened my own understanding of the software but gave me a masterclass on how learning about something you enjoy could be a pleasure.

3photoshop in 2007So when I sat down to record that Lightning tutorial my intention, whether or not I knew it at that time, was to emulate the great Deke – to pass on the knowledge and do it in an entertaining, warm way. I plugged in my new VAIO laptop, pulled out an old rickety microphone I had been given many years earlier, loaded up some free screen capture software and hit record. I wasn’t advanced enough for editing at that time, I didn’t have a pop filter, my chair creaked but I managed to record the whole thing on my second take. Back then it was quite an accomplishment – these days the quality of the recording makes for painful viewing.

The fun thing however was uploading it to YouTube and watching it grow. It started off with 10-20 viewers, but within a week or so it was attracting over 100 views a day with many, mostly positive, comments. As I’m writing this it easily remains my most popular video tutorial ever – with over 240,000 views and over 500 likes. I recorded more videos and watched them grow too. I kept a keen eye on my total view count and was encouraged to record more and more videos as it rose higher and higher, a very rewarding and exciting feeling.

It wasn’t long before I wanted to put together my very own website instead of just having a presence on YouTube so I set about working on a new brand called 3photoshop.com. At first it was a very basic site that later grew more advanced with a migration project to Drupal CMS. I bought the domain name on 30 March 2007 and launched a Dreamweaver-assisted site shortly after – it was an thrilling time. In August 2009 I unveiled a new and improved database driven site that could handle user accounts, automated updates and viewer’s comments.

As they say, business was booming. The site was more than paying for itself (domain and hosting costs etc) with advertising from Google Adsense, users were leaving comments, we were receiving a lot of traffic from other sites recommending us, and it began to have a real community feel.

During this time I continued to help and support Photoshop users not just on my site, but around the web where I contributed content and answered questions at sites such as PhotoshopForums.com – and it was a pleasure to do so. Running a website and community is hard work and incredibly time consuming, the main reasons why it is so satisfying to achieve success.

One of the biggest decisions I made was to enter the world of paid, premium tutorials whilst continuing to offer free, high quality, weekly content. I aimed the free tutorials at tips, tricks, techniques and recipe-type videos that worked best in one sitting, whilst aiming the premium content at entire guides for each release of the software. I moved away from Photoshop and towards Photoshop Elements. I introduced a section for text-based tutorials and expanded our presence on the web to include all the social media I could.

Me in Death Valley, 2006Needless to say the role of managing the site and creating new content had turned into a full time job, the problem being that I already had one of those. Not only was it incredibly time consuming but I often found myself spending way more time managing and maintaining the site than I did  creating video tutorials – the reason I’d started the project in the first place. In recent years it has been a real challenge finding the time to create content, and the spammers have been a constant pain in the you-know-what!

Perhaps more than that, and I’ve been trying to be brave enough to say this for a while – I just don’t use Photoshop as much as I once did. These days I’m more interested in photography, still shooting those photos that document my life and those around me, but now striving to improve my technical understanding of the camera and artistic drive towards shooting more appealing, eye catching shots. Strangely enough I now use software more than I ever did but instead of it being Photoshop CS or Photoshop Elements, it’s Photoshop Lightroom. I bought a Canon DSLR a few years back and now shoot to RAW, meaning that when I download my photos at the end of the day I have to apply my own development settings to each and every one. It can be a laborious task but it’s another one of those jobs that wields a lot of satisfaction when you look back – probably even more so as time passes by.

With the various challenges I faced I had a decision to make. Be prepared to invest large amounts of time into the site, or wind it down. As you’d expect, it’s not easy to pull the plug on a project you’ve been working on for seven and a half years but after many months of contemplation I came to the conclusion that the time is right to move on. I feel I’ve achieved what I set out to do, producing more than 22 hours of tutorials and making them available to all on the web.

Instead of closing down the site completely and resigning 3photoshop.com to the abyss I’ve decided to do things a little differently. Firstly, I own the domain name up until 2019 so I’m going to keep the front page of the site up with links to some of my premium content until the end of the year. I’ll also keep the blog up and running though I won’t be adding to it. Secondly, I’ve uploaded all of my free video tutorials to our YouTube channel – so everything that was free on the site will continue to be available on the web. Finally, when the next version of Photoshop Elements is released (probably September time) I will look at uploading all of our premium video courses to YouTube. I’ll update this post if I decide to go ahead, in the meantime you can subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

The wonderful thing about the approach I have taken is that it leaves the door ajar. If I decide to come back at any time I can do so quite easily. If I create any Lightroom tutorials in the future I have a platform in YouTube where I can get them out.


Map of users

I write this post with a lot of sadness and sorrow but also with a lot of good memories in tow. When I was watching the Lightning tutorial earlier it reminded me of some fun times I had driving through Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite and San Francisco in the Summer of 2006; living proof that my photographs have stood the test of time and achieved their ultimate goal.

Finally, I want to thank everybody who has contributed to 3photoshop.com over the years. The map above illustrates just how far the site reached around the world, and it makes me very proud to think that my voice was heard in all the counties coloured blue. Over 100 countries in all. To the people who have read, watched or contributed to the site, to those that have helped and assisted me, befriended or followed me, or just been around when I needed their expertise – I thank you all very much. I couldn’t have succeeded without you and I appreciate your support.

I look forward to seeing you further on up the road.

Matt Whiting
June 2014

Comments

Non arrival of a promised link

Hi Matt,

On the 24th March this year, you told me that you had sent the missing file that would allow me to reload your Photoshop Elements 11 tutorial that I lost when my computer crashed and I lost everything on it. The e-mail with the link on it has still not arrived. Can I still download the tutorials if I pay again.

abode on the u3a

Hi I belong to the u3a and we have not long started a PC club and your DVD were suggested to help us old xxxxx. I have purchased one for my self and I it very useful, I have two grandchildren who in my thoughts have a been interest in photography,and I have decided to give them a copy of your DVD to help them, I have placed and paid for this and eagerly await delivery , they are learning this a school but at this moment very basic.my age at the moment is 79 and I am very pleased with your DVD, so having already paid I do hope I am not to late to receive delivery of goods. I get the impression you and I live in the same town Haverhill uk cb98jh Many thanks for your help George

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