What is your title, and can you explain what your daily responsibilities are?
I currently work for Adobe as a Solutions Consultant in Digital Media. I spend my time working with our enterprise customers and showing them the value of our desktop software. This includes products within Creative Cloud, Acrobat, EchoSign & the Digital Publishing Suite.
In addition, I teach as an Adjunct Professor for Texas A&M University-Commerce http://www.tamuc.edu/ in the Visual Communications department. I see a new batch of freshman art students each fall.
Finally, I speak at regional workshops, national conferences & events as time allows.
What inspired you most to become a Photographer/photo artist?
My first memories as a photographer/videographer are early childhood spent with my father. He shot a lot of home movies on 8mm film, and he would spend hours splicing together reels in our basement. I was also intrigued with his Polaroid camera, my first experience with instant image gratification.
I was drawn to music for much of my early career, and I was reintroduced to photography in the late 90’s. I connected with some folks in Dallas who raced motorcycles, and found modest success. Sports & action photography is where I moved beyond taking snapshots, and it really nurtured my interest in improving my photography.
I used a number of cheap photo editors before switching to Photoshop 6 when it was released. Most of my editing consisted of titling, image enhancements, and basic design. Compositing images is something I started exploring after my daughter was born six years ago.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to pursuing a career in the creative fields?
I guess that depends on what you define as a career. For someone who is looking to make a living as a creative, you definitely need to know the business. Whether you want to freelance or pursue a career within a company you have to understand how to do business. This means writing a resume, creating a portfolio, knowing how to network, writing contracts, accounting, learning how to work with a team, a myriad of vocational skills I believe many “starving” artists tend to overlook or ignore. However, I believe it’s perfectly fine to be an artist and not have that be your job. My sister is a brilliant touring musician who also happens to be a very successful corporate attorney.
Your art doesn’t have to be stifled by your career, and vice-versa.
With all the new versions of Photoshop what changes do you personally feel are the most exciting or brilliant?
That’s a hard question. I believe using Photoshop isn’t just one tool, one fix, but rather using the tools together in combination that makes it so powerful. If I had to pick one feature that just blew my mind, I would say Content-Aware Fill. The first time I saw Bryan Hughes use Content-Aware to create new landscapes by expanding the canvas of a cropped image I was floored. Again, it’s not the technology itself, but how people utilize and ultimately create new things with it that I get excited about.
What Photoshop artists/creatives do you follow, and why do they stand out from others in your opinion?
Glyn Dewis because I’ve seen his progression as an artist. It’s good to have that perspective of seeing where someone with exceptional talent started, and how they’ve taken things to the next level.
J Schuh because of his adaptability. He’s probably the best working artist I know simply due to his ability to work within the styles requested by his customers.
Patrick Boivin is incredible. I would love to create animated shorts that emulate his style.
Zack Arias is a talented thought leader who helps not only the hobbyist photographer, but those that want a no-BS view of the photography industry.
What social networks do you like most?
None of them. I kid, I kid…
For me, social media is a tool, it’s not something I spend a lot of my free time on. I’d much rather spend time with the family doing something offline. *grin* I believe the “best” social network is the one you leverage the most. It goes back to an earlier answer, you have to know your business, or in this case your audience. Twitter is worthless if that’s not where your audience is at. Folks are finally starting to pay attention to Vine, and there are artists who are killing it because they chose to make it their network.
For myself, I started utilizing Twitter, then moved to Facebook, and ultimately I’ll end up on Google+. I believe Google+ is the next campground for social communities; it certainly has proven fruitful for a number of photographers. To paraphrase Wayne Gretzky, it’s not about where the puck is, but where it’s going to be. I believe you should treat social media in that regard if you want to grow an audience.
Which social networks present good examples of Photoshop and Photography the best?
Behance, Flickr & 500px are good places to showcase work, with great mobile experiences. Google+ has a thriving community built around images. I like Behance https://www.behance.net/aj-wood because it’s designed for portfolios, is integrated into Adobe tools, and allows for collaborative works. I haven’t done nearly enough with it, or other image networks simply due to time constraints.
I’ve seen some amazing images on 500px, and there’s always good conversations happening on Google+.
What is your prediction of the evolution of social networks?
There will continue to be a pull between consumer privacy & making money. A social network is only as good as the big data collected from personalization. Facebook & Twitter are a lot different now that they have Wall Street looking over their shoulder.
We’ll continue to see networks that include features around “temporary” or “self-destruct” content. Privacy, or niche networks will continue to ebb & flow.
Mobile is a must, and we’ve already seen several social networks forgo desktops altogether.
How do you think these networks will showcase artists and Photographers better in the future?
We’re in an age of too much content. You can’t possibly consumer everything that’s out there. I like what’s been done with the iPad & Kindle in terms of making large screens lighter. I like the portability and easy access of my iPhone, but I prefer watching items on a big screen.
On the devices we have today, I don’t feel there’s much more that can be done—a slideshow is a slideshow regardless of transitions. However, I think the next level is expansion of virtual reality (VR), holographic displays, or mediums that allow for live interaction.
What predictions do you have for the future of Photoshop and Photography?
I worry that the democratization of photography will continue, and not just because an industry is on the decline. Digital cameras, and more recently cell phone cameras allow anyone to take a photograph. Our social networks are filled with A LOT of mediocre imagery. Frankly, part of the decline for photographers is a growing idea that “good is good enough” amongst consumers. I believe it will reach a tipping point, and swing back though. The industry won’t return to it’s full glory, but the business savvy, talented photographers will still be making a buck or two.
For Photoshop, that’s harder to say. Had you asked me a few years ago, I would have responded, “What could Adobe possibly do next?” then Content-Aware came along. That technology alone has changed the way we transform & manipulate images. Those that pay attention to the Adobe MAX conference have already seen sneaks into some amazing things around artificial lighting & 3D. I believe we’ll see advances in mobile, but I don’t expect “Photoshop in the Cloud”.
Whatever the future holds, I’ll be around to show it to our customers.