Why Learning Photoshop is WORTH IT.

Every year I create a calendar for my mother-in-law for her birthday. You'd think that, as a digital scrapbooker, I scrap each page like I do my books. But actually, no. I don't have the time. Her birthday is the end of January and that's a rough time of year. I'm trying to get my yearbook published, and Christmas just got over and I just went back to work, and there is just no time.

So for the past few years I've actually just used Walmart.com to do it. They have a photo section, and you can upload your photos and use templates and just drop them in where you want. As I've spoken to other people who are just beginning to dabble in the digital scrap world, this is what they do for their books. They don't learn Photoshop or any other program--they just go to a site like Snapfish or Shutterfly, choose from a variety of templates, fonts, and elements, and throw their book together in a matter of hours.

I have no problem with this--for some people, that works for them. And heaven knows, to get an entire book done in a few hours? Goodness, I probably spend at least an hour per spread, and my books have about 60 spreads! So I can see the draw for that. Those books may not be as personalized as mine, but they are still beautiful.

This year I dropped the Wal-Mart idea because I hate how they only have just a few templates and backgrounds. I did a search and found Mixbook, which I'd actually heard of before--I'd seen it appear as an advertisement on my own blog! Ha! Anyway, I made my calendar on Mixbook this year and it is SO much better. They had so many templates, but they also allowed you to go in and move the photos after you put them in the template, and resize and zoom in and change the order and stuff. I guess it gave me a taste of what it's like to scrap using one of those sites instead of using Photoshop.

I guess most people I know are just looking for the easiest, fastest way. They don't want to spend the time learning a new program. They are overwhelmed when they open Photoshop, or they see my pages and think that it must be way hard to create something like that. And--to each his own. Do what works for you. But as for me, I am SO GLAD I bothered to learn Photoshop. At the same time, I understand the fear. I just got access to Illustrator at work, and when I open it, I feel that lost overwhelmed feeling I had when I first opened Photoshop, and I remember what its like to feel like it will take forever to figure it out.

But learning Photoshop, for me, has been much more than just learning a program to digital scrapbook. I use this skill I have developed nearly every single day. The other day my sister wanted a poem she wrote to look pretty so someone could put it on their wall. I created a beautiful document using kits. Photoshop. My school wanted READ posters of our teachers to hang in their rooms for a literacy project. I took pictures of each teacher and made lovely posters that hang all over our school. Photoshop. I created these awesome little cars that go on my walls, and the students get to put their names on them and move them as they increase their typing speed. Photoshop. I wanted to give a special gift to the ladies I visit in my neighborhood at Christmas. I made a bar of soap and then designed a personal soapbox for them, with a personal message and the scent of the soap right on the box. Photoshop. A few years ago we couldn't get one shot in our family photo with everyone looking nice. I combined several different pictures seamlessly so you could see everyone at their best. Photoshop. Honestly, I could go all day.

My point is, although it might be easier and quicker to spend a few hours doing a simple book, learning this program is a life skill. It's something that makes you more valuable in the work place. It's something that can be used to enhance your home. Once you figure out the basics, you'll have it open all the time, like I do. You'll constantly see ways to use it. I have used this skill to make myself invaluable at work. Next year a new middle school is opening and many teachers will be surplused. Among other things, Photoshop has been a tool I have used to secure my usefulness at my work. I make every poster, every advertisement, the program for the school play, the tickets, and even the school website. It's not likely they will want to let me go--not when I do so many extra things. Photoshop. I'm tellin' ya--it's worth it!

So take the time. And if you are overwhelmed, read my post on The Five Things. Once you learn those five things, you are good to go and everything else is just gravy. As I opened Illustrator the other day, my first thought was, "Where is there a blog like mine that will teach me how to use this in an every day way?" I'm sure there is one--if you know one, please comment below! I need to get started! What a journey it has been learning this program, and I'm still just a total amateur!

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