Craig McCormick here and before I get going I want to say a big thank you to Dave Clayton for inviting me to be the first guest post on the new NAPP UK website. I’m still surprised that he asked me when there are hundreds of much more qualified people in NAPP, but I’ll try my best to at least be entertaining!
For the vast majority of you that don’t know me, lets get the formalities out the way first shall we?
That’s me in the pretentiously obscured black and white picture above. When not taking terrible self-portraits of myself, I’m a 23 year old amateur landscape and travel photographer based in Shanghai. Originally from the UK, but I spent 7 years of my childhood growing up in Hong Kong before moving back to the UK in my teens and most recently I moved to Shanghai 4 years ago.
Even though I call myself a photographer now, my first exposure to anything “kelby” wasn’t through photography. I actually started out using photoshop for design work whilst studying art & design in high school.
Being a tech savvy teenager, I went onto iTunes and searched for Photoshop in the podcast section and this show called “PhotoshopUser TV” came up. It seemed quite cool and professionally well done. The hosts were funny and there was a new episode every week. So I subscribed having no clue the impact this 30 minute, weekly web show would have on the rest of my life.
My knowledge of photoshop grew exponentially over the next few years single handedly thanks the Photoshop Guys. I would watch and re-watch every episode to the point of obsession. When they’d finish a season I’d be gutted and wait desperately for a new season to start. Over time as PhotoshopUser TV and NAPP started to move their focus more towards photography, I was moving in that direction all on my own.
Having been constantly blown away by the Photoshop Guys photography on the show, it made me want to explore the idea of taking photographs. Eventually I picked up a Canon 40D with a Sigma 18-200 for my 18th birthday.
I do have a bit of a confession… until a couple years ago, I had never been a NAPP member and I don’t have a good reason for it. Other than I never thought I was good enough to call myself a “professional”. I knew NAPP wasn’t just for professionals, but it felt like a step too far for me. The reality was that at the pace i was going, I was learning more than enough from their free content. Which really is a huge testament to how good their podcast are!
As you can probably tell by now, I am a big fan of the work that the NAPP & Kelby Media Group do. I think it’s worth taking a moment to help explain why I am as passionate about NAPP as I am.
Up until about 18 months ago, I was the causalist of casual shooters. Even though I owned a decent camera and good lens, the only times I would ever “shoot” would be on holidays or local events. I learnt early on that photography wasn’t something I was naturally gifted at. I’m fairly used to this concept as it’s a common occurrence for me and I’m sure many of you reading this, so it didn’t come as a surprise. But I kept chipping away at it. It allowed me to focus on learning my camera, what all the dials and settings meant, what f-stop meant and how it affected my pictures etc. Basically, I got to know my setup inside out.
So you might be asking yourself at this point, what changed you from a casual to a dedicated shooter? A girl. Obviously.
In particular, it was the catastrophic collapse of the relationship with said girl. I won’t go into details, for your sake, but it sure wasn’t pretty.
It was a particularly dark time personally and nothing was really helping me get to a better place. With the exception of the NAPP.
I can’t point to a specific date or time when I can say things started to turn around for me, but I started to gravitate towards the overwhelmingly positive attitude that NAPP has for helping others as a way of building my self confidence back up. They were helping me learn new skills, expand my knowledge and be inspired in a craft that I hadn’t truly enjoyed in a long time.
I found myself wanting to go out and shoot all kinds of things to grow my understanding of how to photograph different subjects and I quickly started to recognised the pattern that the more I shot, the better I was becoming. Which in turn helped me grow confidence in myself. In a very weird way, they became a sort of support group for me. I became extremely grateful for all the content that they produced as it became a source of constant inspiration.
I was incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to visit the NAPP headquarters in Tampa, FL this March and got the chance to thank everyone at NAPP for what they do. To say I was nervous to meet people I greatly respected and admired would be the understatement of the year.
There’s the cliche that you should never meet your idols because you’ll be disappointed. I wasn’t. Not even close! Everyone I met was so welcoming and made as much time as possible to chat with me and hang out. It was beyond incredible.
I especially have to give a big heartfelt shout out to RC here. He really took me under his wing and treated me like a long lost friend and showed me around the entire facility, introduced me to everyone and then invited me to watch the tapping of the final 2 episodes of PhotoshopUser TV from last season! It might had been a small thing to RC, but it meant more to me than I can possibly put into words.
I actually make an appearance in the final 2 episodes of last season thanks to him and Matt! If you wanna check out the quick tip I did about Adobe DNG on the show, here’s the links:
Over the last 18 months I’ve been able to help pick myself up with a reinvigorated love for photography that I haven’t felt before and have started to really strive to make images that I am truly proud of and I think I’m finally starting to scratch the surface of what I might be capable of it I keep pushing myself to constantly learn. All thanks to the guys at NAPP.
I could talk forever about all the awesome reasons to join NAPP like the great member only discounts which save me a load of money each year on stuff, the freakin’ amazing PhotoshopUser Magazine that gets delivered straight to my iPad 10 times a year, the ever growing list of in-depth classes that are worth the cost of joining alone or the dedicated help sections for any of my questions about Photoshop, Lightroom, camera advice and so on.
What I’m trying to say is that although there are lots of places where you can go to get Photoshop and photography training, NAPP is different. It’s a place where you learn from one another. It’s a place you can go to be inspired. It’s really like one big, supportive family.
Craig can be found on