Recently, the team I work with at Adobe met in Chicago for some group training on both Adobe's Digital Marketing solutions and the sales cycle of these solutions. It had been the first time in nearly a year the entire group had met as a team and we were all looking forward to it. Obviously, the training was paramount, but as remote workers, we rarely get the chance to interact with each other unless it's through the phone or on the web. This was an opportunity to socialize and learn. A great combination.
Opening Night
We filtered into Chicago on Tuesday, from mid afternoon to early evening. Most of us were on site in time for dinner, so our ad-hoc host - team member Ryan Dietz - wanted to give us an authentic Chicago experience - Deep Dish Pizza at Pizzeria Due (pronounced more like "duet"). Not only was the food great, but the waiter was a character. He shared a lot of history about the restaurant with us, as well as the building in which the pizzeria was housed. He even took us on a tour of the building after dinner, and shared a ghost story or two. All in all, it was a pretty awesome start to our gathering.
There were at least four stories to this old building, much of it empty, giving you a true sense of spookiness. The niches on every landing remind you of a bygone time.
To Work, To Work!
Much of our time together was spent in a very kitschy training space called Catalyst Ranch. Not your typical set of boardrooms, but very conducive to to relaxed, open-ended learning. It felt like a place that startups were born and grew. I learned a great deal more about our Digital Marketing products, specifically Adobe Experience Manager Assets (AEM Assets) for managing digital assets and the workflows around them, and AEM Sites, for managing and developing unified, branded websites. I'm at the the point where I can now comfortably navigate through these solutions and see where they would benefit a university.

Ryan Dietz and Scott Trudeau two of our SC team who had already been working in the Digital Marketing space - led a lot of the training, including getting us up and running successfully with AEM.
We also spent a lot of time clarifying our roles as Solutions Consultants, where we fit in the sales cycle and also analyzed the activities we are currently involved in, to see what was really working, what was helping the company, our customers and as a result, us. As Adobe changes and our roles continue to evolve, this sharing of ideas and processes was incredibly valuable to me.
Higher Education on the Shore of Lake Michigan
My manager, Tim Plumer Jr. also had another goal for us - to capture imagery we could use for our demonstrations of Adobe Marketing Cloud. Yes, Adobe has spent a boatload of money creating, developing and buying assets to demo our solutions, but often, the imagery and the demo projects don't reflect education in any way. Tim has been spearheading an initiative to build our a true set of demonstration projects for us, but it can't hurt to have a few more photos - or video. So Ryan - also a Chicago native - took us out to his old stomping grounds - Northwestern University - for a couple hours of image gathering. 

Turns out, it was the perfect day to do this; not only was the weather fantastic, but as it was only a few days until school began, the grounds were in phenomenal shape! I made over 100 images, all with my Lumix GF7, but distilled it down to about 50 that I felt were worth sharing with the team. The cream of the crop is in this project, but you can also see more by visiting my Flickr album.

Northwestern is a gorgeous campus, with a visually intriguing mix of old and new architecture. I wanted to capture the flavour of the university, but also wanted to be sure I had some images that were generic enough that they could be anywhere, or even used as background images for text.
I have learned one disappointing characteristic of my little Lumix camera - it doesn't handle extreme highlights very well. They do not remain neutral. Rather, they shift to the magenta side of color. Sometimes I can eliminate the color cast with processing in Lightroom, but other times, it's just a better choice to convert to greyscale, like the image above.
One of my colleagues, Donna Caldwell, is from San Jose. She couldn't get over the size of Lake Michigan, the size of the waves, or the fact people were windsurfing on a freshwater lake. The great lakes aren't oceans, but they can sure feel like inland seas when the weather picks up.
One of the last images I made while at Northwestern, and perhaps my favorite. Perfect lighting and a strong composition (IMO), together with some judicious processing in Lightroom, made for a image I enjoy looking at every time.
Not all images can work in both Black and White and Colour. I think this one does, even when that black and white rendition is simply an Instagram filter.
Time to Head Home
All too soon, our training came to an end, though. Some left on Thursday evening; others - like me - in the wee hours of Friday morning, at the head of the last long weekend of summer - Labour Day. 

This group work was very valuable to me; I gained a much better grasp of our Digital Marketing solutions and a clearer perspective on where I fit in the process. Seeing this group, interacting and working with them, laughing with them - this is what I love about working at Adobe. Yes, the company makes amazing, magical software, but it's the people where the true magic begins. 

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