Inside Adobe MAX 2019

Inside Adobe MAX 2019

I still remember receiving the email inviting me to Adobe MAX 2019 to attend as an Adobe Insider. It was the most exciting invitation of my creative career and I still feel a bit giddy thinking about just how excited I was.

Funnily enough, just prior to this I had made plans to finish up at my full-time job as a physiotherapist (of 7 years), taking the plunge into full-time freelancing as a photographer. So it would happen, my final day would fall just two days before I would jump on the flight to L.A.

Those months leading up to Adobe MAX were full of mixed emotions. Mostly excitement, a great deal for MAX, and a great deal for the challenges I'd face ahead. Unfortunately this was mixed in with a few negative ones. I tried to not let it get to me but there was definitely a whole bunch of fear, apprehension and worry about the road ahead. I did my best to keep on top of those doubts and focus on what was important.

In the planning for Adobe MAX looking at all the insanely talented creatives who were actually invited as Adobe Insiders and checking out their work I immediately felt the usual imposter syndrome kicking in. You can check the full list of these amazing people here. I was so excited just to be included amongst this group and focused on the deep gratitude I felt just to be invited. Lucky for me, Adobe MAX turned out to be exactly what I needed at exactly the right time.

So what is Adobe MAX?

Adobe MAX is the largest creative conference IN THE WORLD, drawing in the most creative and talented individuals from all over the planet. This year there was around 15,000 attendees from 62 countries and I was so grateful to be one of them!

The conference itself involves massive keynotes from the Adobe team, as well as huge creative celebrities. It also involves classes and workshops which you can choose from. Topics include master classes on Creative Cloud applications as well as more personal classes and other creative topics.

Adobe also announces exciting new updates and releases for Creative Cloud. As well as providing sneak peeks of what might be to come. Overall MAX is one giant celebration of creativity!

During Adobe MAX

My anxieties and worries were soon washed away with pure excitement and inspiration once I arrived in L.A ready for the event. I realised this was the perfect time for me to be in this environment and I was going to make the very most of it!

Day 0 - Insiders Summit

As Adobe Insiders we were lucky enough to have our own special day before MAX officially began. It proved a great way to meet all the Insiders and we also got to participate in some fun group activities together. We also listened to two incredible panel discussions. The first one all about collaboration and the second on inclusivity and the importance of creating for everyone. Both were hugely inspiring topics and shared some very important messages.

@demas speaking during one of the panel discussions


A key moment for me personally came from meeting Photographer/YouTuber Chris Hau. As a fan of his channel I took the opportunity to say hi. As we got chatting I mentioned to him that I had literally just quit my job and made the jump to full-time freelancing. The excitement he had for me was unreal, it’s crazy how a near stranger can be so excited for you can and how it can have such a profound impact on you.

He also gave me some solid advice. He basically said that if you deeply put your intention towards something, the universe will reward you. As a very non-religious person my own meaning may be very different to next, but I totally believe in the power of intention.

For me this cemented my belief that if you want something enough and do absolutely all in your power to make that happen, of course your chances of success improve.

Having a clear intention in all that we do, is something that I believe is hugely important. Thank you Chris for your brief chat and instilling confidence that I was making the right decision. If you are willing to work hard enough for something, it’s amazing what can happen. For me personally just being at Adobe MAX was a perfect example of this for me.

@itchban and @jamtuna

The day was a wonderful way to start my experience at Adobe MAX, I met so many talented people, many from fields outside photography of which I don’t often get the chance to spend time with. This in itself is an eyeopening and inspiring experience.

For one of the activities we had to design our very own coffee brand and label, I was lucky to be teamed up with three awesomely talented illustrators - @shyamagolden, @carrasykes, @plaidmtn.

Our very own coffee label and brand - coffee supplied by Portola Coffee Lab

Day 1 -The Official Start to the Conference

The day began with the first keynote- Accelerating Your Creativity. This keynote involved a massive welcome and then went through some of the huge updates now available on Creative Cloud. Here’s a bit of a summary of what was released.

  • Photoshop launched on Ipad - Making a hugely powerful tool even more accessible, anywhere, anytime. This is pretty incredible considering the power of Photoshop and will enable creativity to spark wherever you may be. For me it does make me want to get an Ipad!

  • Adobe Fresco on Ipad - Although already available before MAX, this is a relatively new application for Adobe. Enabling drawing on the go, Adobe Fresco has live brushes, including oil paints and watercolours. As someone who has never done much drawing, just the accessibility of this app, not having to go to the store, buy paper, paints (that I know nothing about) and to be able to simply draw anywhere you can take an Ipad - even as a photographer I found this hugely exciting and really want to have a go! It is available on the Creative Cloud plan if you do have an Ipad.

  • Video Updates - I was most excited by the Auto-Reframe feature now on Premiere Pro as well as the freeform timeline view. The Auto-Reframe tool is huge, allowing you to automatically change your aspect ratio and keep a subject in frame as you do so. The frame will track and follow as your subject moves through the frame - a huge time saver when wanting to export video at different aspect ratios.

  • Lightroom Classic - New on Lightroom Classic is the auto-fill feature for Panorama’s - so useful as not often your panoramas line up, reducing the need to open Photoshop to fill in the areas close to the border.

  • Photoshop Camera - An exciting new AI camera application for mobile devices. Excited to have a good play around with this one!

And plenty more!

Day 2 - Second Official Day

The Morning began with the second Keynote - Creativity is the Great Enabler. Today we would hear from some incredibly talented and incredibly famous speakers including Dave Grohl, Billie Eilish, David LaChapelle, Takashi Murakami, Shantell Martin and M. Night Shyamalan.

The first speaker Shantell Martin, is a visual artist who shared her story and an important message. She spoke a lot about identity, as a person and as a creative. The words that stuck with me most were - “If nobody knows who you are, nobody cares who you are. You have to make people care for you, by caring for yourself".

I certainly thought a lot about who I am as a person and who I am as a creative and how I can share that as authentically as possible to inspire others. Thank you Shantell for your words.

“If nobody knows who you are, nobody cares who you are. You have to make people care for you, by caring for yourself first. Shantell Martin

Billie Eilish and Takashi Murakami were next on stage, who collaborated on one of Billie Eilish’s music videos. As well as making me laugh I took a lot away from Takashi. He was extremely funny on stage, but also had a cool level of humbleness at the same time. When asked his message for younger creators he jokingly replied - “Please stop”, going on to say that this younger generation is too creative and will take away his work. I have always had a deep respect for humble people, who are able to do incredible things but stay so grounded. He was the perfect example of this, and hilarious at the same time.

Lastly Dave Grohl blessed the stage - discussing his journey from very beginning with Nirvana to what he is working on now. A legend in Rock and Roll it was very inspiring just hearing him tell his story, an amazing guy. Perhaps the words that stuck with me most were - “Love for any artist is your greatest muse.” Another important message and one I connect with strongly.

“Love for any artist is your greatest muse. Dave Grohl

Hanging with legends Kurt Tilse, Matthew Vandeputte and Benjamin Lee

That evening we were ready for SNEAKS - where Adobe showcases what they are currently working on, updates and software that might make it out into the world in the future.

This part of the conference is all around fun, providing drinks for the massive crowd and co-hosted by comedian John Mulaney. I won’t go into full details of all that is in the works but you can find a recap here -

Just the creativity in coming up with these ideas is insanely mind-blowing. Not only the people who come up with these ideas, but the brains behind the developers who are able to bring them to life. It’s pretty crazy what the future will look like with AI and other technologies!

After Sneaks we headed to the complex in and around Staples Centre for Bash - another fun event with food, drinks and live music. The sheer volume of this event was crazy. Vampire Weekend took the stage inside Staples Centre to wrap up another amazing day.

Day 3 - The Final Day

For most, the final day offers the opportunity to attend more classes. I was lucky enough to attend a chat from designer, Stefan Sagmeister on the topic of “Why Beauty Matters”. He spoke about his years of research into design, related mostly to architectural design but relatable to nearly everything that we do.

Joy and I were lucky to meet the Sagmiester after his talk on the final day

I took away the message that whenever I’m creating anything, whether it is an Instagram post, a story with some text, or even writing, to really think about the design. Put as much beauty into each piece of work as possible and not settle for anything less. This is something I will strive to do with anything related to my brand moving forward and overall this was an amazing talk to listen to! 


Summing Up - My Big Lessons From Adobe MAX

  • Create for yourself - in the process, aim to inspire others

  • Love is the greatest muse for an artist - love in any form is the most powerful inspiration

  • Know who you are, as a person and as a creative

  • Create with beauty in mind, in all that you do!

  • Collaborate - MORE AND MORE!

  • Set clear intention, in work and in life

  • Push your craft to the next level - each and every day

  • Use new tools and software to expand skillsets, experiment with drawing, illustration and design

  • Lastly, if you want something and you put all that you are into achieving that with the very best of intentions, you have already succeeded

A super special event and for me the perfect timing for starting my career as a full-time freelancer. Thank you so much to Adobe for having me along and to everyone who was involved for making it such a special experience.

Peace out MAX - I hope to see you next year!


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