Two weeks ago I visited a city I’ve had on my bucket list for a while: Las Vegas, Nevada.

I was flown out by the Photosmith team to help promote our iPad photography application at Photoshop User World, but I took a few days extra in advance to recover from jetlag and explore the city with a friend who came out to keep me company.

He’d been to the city before and could show me around. We spent two days just exploring the hotel lobbies along the Strip, ducking from one air-conditioned oasis to the next, and I marvelled at the artifice and manipulative genius of it.

The casino floors are massive. I knew they were huge, but I couldn’t conceive of the sprawl of them. No clocks or mirrors or exit signs, subtle variations in light, temperature and scent, to guide the crowds. Beautiful outdoor pool paradises that closed at 6 PM to herd the crowds back to the casinos.

Grotesque and beautiful exhibitions and simulations of wealth, and specks of poverty and homelessness here and there. Endless rows of dead-eyed slot-machinists orbiting exciting and lively table games. My buddy enjoys playing craps (the one where you blow on the dice) and I had a great time learning the game from watching him play and soaking the enthusiasm and energy of the other players. He had quite a good run, ending up enough in the black to cover the cost of his trip!

The convention was a blast. On the first day, the team and I set up the booth, a simple affair with some banners and a tablecloth I’d designed, and realised it looked sub-excellent. After a quick conference we decided to tighten the food budget and headed out to buy a big flatscreen — picture four of us stuffed into a taxi on the way back to the hotel with a 50″ television across our laps!

For three days we manned the booth and promoted the application to a whirling crowd of photographers, and it was tremendously inspiring to feel that kind of energy from an audience we usually only see as numbers and statistics.

And on the last night, after we enjoyed a rewarding swim in the rain, we took a stroll along the Strip and soaked in the atmosphere.

I may never have cause to return to Las Vegas, but I’m certainly glad I saw it!

– Nico Janssen.