What is your title, and can you explain what your daily responsibilities are?
My title… I have a lot, here it goes! I’ll share them and you see if you can come up with one Job Title:
Dad, Husband, Photographer, Designer, Photoshop Instructor, Master Sergeant, First Sergeant (First Shirt), FAA Master Parachute Rigger, Accountant, Manager, Key Grip, Gaffer, Video Editor, Web Master, Content Developer, Copy Editor, Social Media Consultant, Self-Published Author, Internet Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner…
The truth is, when you are in the Air Force National Guard part-time and run your business out of your home and you are the sole entity in charge of it all, there are a lot of titles that follow!
I wish I could tell you my daily responsibilities, but they change like the weather! I wake up, make pancakes with my son and have breakfast with the family. I make some tea and then head downstairs. I answer however many emails need to be answered, check social media, look at the stats on the websites and YouTube channel, this takes about an hour or two dependent upon the amount of emails. After that I start working on content, whether that is blog content for the next day or future tutorial packages.
It is a hectic life, one that requires a lot of self-motivation, but you know what? I wouldn’t change it for the world! I worked very hard to get here and it is extremely gratifying to see it all finally coming to fruition.
What inspired you most to become a Photographer? Why did you pursue this as a career?
Ut oh… I am going to spout nothing but the truth in this interview, haha. I never intended to be a photographer… actually, at one point in my life I despised ‘photographers’…
Yes, it started in college. I heard a girl say to me, “Why do I have to draw or sculpt, or paint… I am a Photographer!”
To me it seemed as if the title ‘Photographer’ gave you some kind of magic token to not have to do anything else in the arts. I turned to her and I said something along the lines of, “Well, if you know how to draw you will learn to understand composition from your hand and eye. If you sculpt you begin to understand how light falls on and reflects off of a 3 dimensional subject. If you learn how to paint you will know everything you need to know about Color Theory.”
She looked at me and said, “Whatever”
So how did I get here with my trivial animosity towards photographers? I bought a digital camera in 2006 and I fell in love with the possibilities. I had shot 35mm film cameras in the late 90’s, but other than the darkroom the process didn’t do much for me. It wasn’t until early 2010 that I discovered HDR photography and my life changed.
I am not talking about over saturated HDR junk, I am talking about the ability to make my images look like the scene that my eye saw using HDR as my medium. I love it, even more so, I love that I can teach others to see their passion.
I don’t really consider myself a pro photographer, in some ways I don’t really consider myself a photographer at all. I am an instructor and I currently instruct in the realm of inspiration. I don’t hold anything back in my tutorials and I get more satisfaction from a sincere thank you than a dollar. I love what I do, I love my career!
Oh, and for the record, I don’t despise photographers anymore. I have realized it wasn’t the ‘Photographer’ title I resented, it was the close mindedness of a teenage college student.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to pursuing a career in the creative fields?
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Printmaking and Sculpture…I heard this a lot, sometimes with harsher expletives, “What the heck are you going to do with that degree?”
I had to be creative, but how do you make money in a saturated market like Photography Instruction with free resources like YouTube and Vimeo…
Seriously, this market is saturated with content. There is so much free content on the web in the photography world, how the heck am I going to stand out? It’s pretty simple, you have to decide who you are. Are you an Innovator or a Regurgitator?
A Regurgitator finds things they see online, in books, or from others somehow. They chew this up, swallow it and spit something out in their own way. An Innovator sees how something is done and elaborates on it, making it better, understanding that everything in life no matter what it is, is a continuous improvement process.
There is nothing wrong with either of these types, both are very valid in this industry and both do succeed. I tend to be the latter. Whether I am working in my military career, in my marriage, or in my small business I know that there is always a better way to do something and I will do anything in my power to continuously improve, complacency is the devil.
To sum it up, the biggest hurdle in the creative field is being creative and staying inspired. It requires a lot of self-motivation, perseverance, and tenacity. It just may be the hardest career to pursue and succeed at. Let’s face it, the world needs art, but they don’t want to pay the price for it.
With all the new versions of Photoshop and Lightroom what changes do you personally feel are the most exciting or brilliant?
I am not a Lightroom guy. I don’t understand why it wants to micromanage my image folders, so I can’t really speak for Lightroom as I have only opened it once and very quickly closed it shortly after!
As for Photoshop, Adobe Camera Raw as a Filter. This is by far one of my favorite new items added to Photoshop CC. I know there is a lot of hullaballoo about “renting” Photoshop, which quite frankly is a trite word to describe the purchase of CC, I would pay $20 a month or more just for ACR as a filter.
Beyond the new advances in PS, I find the trusty old Curves Adjustment to continually fascinate me. If I could only have one tool in Photoshop it would be the Curves Adjustment Layer (assuming I could still have layers and masks).
Last year I developed two Zone Systems (Digital and Color). They both rely heavily on the Curves adjustment and exploit the true capabilities of editing tone and color with the Curve. I watched my workflow go from 40 minutes an image to ~15 by unlocking this potential.
While advancement is great, and necessary in this growing photography world, sometimes the best features are in the foundation. Just like a house, without a solid foundation the whole thing crumbles.
What Photographers & Photoshop artists do you follow, and why do they stand out from others in your opinion
I follow Matt Kloskowski quite a bit. I met him in 2010 on a Photo Walk in California. He talked to me like I was human, never told me his job title with Kelby Media Group (at the time) and has always been an inspiration for me as an instructor.
More than being just a great guy and great friend, I find his teaching style worth emulating. He not only talks the talk, but he walks the walk, his Landscape work is phenomenal!
While I can’t really follow him anymore, Ansel Adams continues to be someone who motivates and inspires me. I like his photography a lot, but his mind impresses me more. How he thought about photography and the way he spoke of it you can tell it was his passion. Everything I ever needed to know about photography I read in his books from the 1980’s, The Camera, The Negative, and The Print. Yes, everything I even needed to know about Digital Photography I learned from these 3 books.
What social networks do you like most? Which present good examples of Photoshop & Photography the best
Facebook and 500px for two very different reasons!
On 500px I get to see the best images from all over the world. If I ever want a hint of inspiration I take a gander at the Flow on 500px. It always gives me the motivation to kick up my Photoshop skills a notch and get me outside with my camera. I strongly feel that what you are seeing on 500px, the images in the top 1%, are probably the best in the world. The best part, it is constantly evolving from day to day, minute to minute, second to second.
Facebook isn’t necessarily the best place to see Photoshop and Photography examples, because most pro’s don’t showcase their best work there due to Rights issues. However, it is a great place to connect with photographers. I find it difficult to connect with them on a personal level through 500px or my websites, but on Facebook we get to see glimpses into one another’s lives, share stories completely unrelated to art, and just mindlessly mingle!
I run two closed groups on Facebook, “In the Zone Photographers” and “HDR Insider” both are venues for the individuals who either use the Zone Systems or are a part of HDR Insider. I really enjoy connecting with them on a more personal level in these groups and that would not be possible without Facebook.
I have met so many great people through Facebook, like you Andrew!
What is your prediction of the evolution of social networks? How do you think these networks will showcase artists and Photographers better in the future?
This is a tough one. You see, I am not the best at Social Media. I do not like many of the social media channels other than 500px and Facebook. I feel many of the others are very one sided forms of communication, they feel like vacuum cleaners for thoughts and photos. You put it out there and the life expectancy is so short they just get sucked up and they’re gone, how can you expect to showcase anything?
Twitter just baffles me, I use it because I kind of have to I guess, but it is so restricting. I mean, come on, have any of my responses to your questions been under 140 characters, that restriction is just senseless and undermines the importance of real conversation.
To get back on the topic I feel like what we are going through, because of the ease of access to social media, is similar to what was occurring a hundred years ago in photography. The Kodak Brownie camera became more accessible and pro photographers were agitated by the overabundance of ‘anonymous’ snapshots being called art. It wasn’t anonymous because the anonymous ‘artist’ chose to remain hidden. It was anonymous because they didn’t know who took the picture.
500px is the only photography-centric Social Media venue that is doing the photographer justice along with the photograph. Every time you click on a photo on 500px it turns your screen into a mini-frame, it focuses on the artist, their picture’s title, then the picture not the overinflated amount of likes or comments. Beyond all of that, the photographer retains the Rights to the image and only sells it if he or she chooses.
I really hope to see 500px stick around for the long haul as they are showcasing photographs the way they should be seen online. I may not be a fan of the whole ‘pulse’ and ‘grading system’, but in a way that adds a sense of worth to the photo that no other social media channels provide. It can be discouraging for up and coming photographers or it can be a source of motivation to continuously improve.
What predictions do you have for the future of Photoshop and Lightroom?
Just when I thought I knew where they were going, they made CC! Predicting this would be like trying to predict the 5 day forecast in Kansas City, Missouri. Just when you think you have it, it changes sporadically and you are left in the rain without your umbrella.
However, I think we may see more masking options in Lightroom that further push LR users away from PS to keep their workflow in LR to avoid the bouncing back and forth game. I say this because of the recent innovations with masking in Adobe Camera Raw with the Graduated Filter.
But then again, they may be in the works with a hybrid of sorts… Photoroom??? Lightshop???