I call myself a “digital photography instructor and an Adobe Photoshop Lightroom expert” but the line between the two separate job titles is growing increasingly blurred. I have been teaching digital photography workshops and Adobe Photoshop / Photoshop Lightroom classes for the past thirteen years. When I started down this path as an educator in the early 2000’s, most of my students were shooting with film cameras. In the early days, I helped my students scan their film and then I taught them how to fine-tune their images using Adobe Photoshop.
As the years went by, I began to teach more and more about digital capture. My lectures shifted away from just the computer and I began to teach more and more about exposure, composition, landscape photography, and night photography techniques. Over time, most of my workshops moved from a more traditional computer lab or classroom setting out to wild beautiful places like Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, and the Coast of Maine. I have just two spots left in my upcoming Northern Lights Photography Workshop this March I would love to fill! – More details at http://www.davidmarx.com/workshops/northern-lights-photography-workshop/
Along the same lines, as soon as I saw the beta version of what would eventually become Adobe Photoshop Lightroom V. 1 I was hooked. I changed my own workflow, and the central focus of my image processing classes as soon as I saw Lightroom’s raw processing abilities and its streamlined elegance. For about seven years, I travelled all over the country teaching Photoshop Lightroom seminars and workshops for the Rocky Mountain School of Photography and other educational organizations.
These days I still teach a lot of field workshops but increasingly my Lightroom instruction is moving online. I am working hard on producing new Photoshop Lightroom video tutorials and new articles every week this year. In addition, I do a lot of one-on-one Lightroom training sessions with clients all over the world through the internet and I have just started mentoring a lively community of photographers at TheArcanum.com
What inspired you most to become a Photographer? Why did you pursue this as a career?
I have to give credit to my family, and to National Geographic Magazine, for inspiring me to become a photographer. Like so many others, I poured over the images in National Geographic every month when I was a kid. The adventure story images, in particular, really spoke to me. Images of mountain climbers, cavers, explorers, and expeditions to the ends of the Earth continue to fascinate me.
Both my father and grandfather carried cameras around on all of our family vacations. Neither has any formal training in photography but there were boxes of slides all over the house when I was young. I believe that I was about twelve years old when my father gave me a Canon EOS 650 SLR for a present. It would take ten more years before I actually learned how to use that camera but it was always there.
The decision to pursue photography as a career really began by accident one winter when I was a ski bum in Utah. I needed some extra money that winter so I got a night job assisting the official team photographer for the minor league Utah Grizzlies hockey team. I didn’t really do any photography that winter.
I never touched my bosses camera or shot anything. My job was to take film to the lab and to sell prints of the players during the game. By spring though, I realized that I had just gotten paid to go see every home hockey game for an entire season!
That experience in Utah showed me that all sorts of doors would swing open for the “official photographer.” What I realized was that the camera can get you special access to all sorts of amazing places and events! It took a few more years but I eventually found my way back to Montana and into a professional photography training program.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to pursuing a career in the creative fields?
This is a tough question and I apologize in advance if my answer sounds curt. Unfortunately, I believe that the biggest obstacle is money. It is very difficult to make a living in creative endeavors. Perhaps I am a little jaded but I know lots of incredibly talented photographers, musicians, painters, etc. who are struggling to pay their bills.
No matter what your talent, the hardest part of building a career in any creative field is earning enough to keep yourself going while maintaining the free time that you need to experiment with new things and foster creativity.
Again, I apologize if this sounds like a very negative answer. I do believe that it can be done. I truly believe that any of us can build a very satisfying creative career for ourselves but it will never be easy and in the end the bills must be paid.
With all the new versions of Photoshop and Lightroom what changes do you personally feel are the most exciting or brilliant?
Since I am a photographer first and foremost, I get the most excited about the changes that improve our ability to process digital camera raw files. In my opinion, the brilliant folks at Adobe were never given the credit that they so deserve for the PV2012 processing code back in Lightroom v4 and the improvements to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom’s Lens Correction Panel in Lightroom v5. These may sound like very dorky features but with the new Tone Controls (PV 2012) I am able to get so much more detail out of my raw images.
I am so amazed with the way that the raw processing tools are advancing that I have really stopped printing out my work. Sure, I will make a print for a friend or a client but I am printing out almost nothing for myself anymore because every year or so some new raw processing improvement comes out and I find myself reworking all of my favorite images. Ninety-nine percent of the time what I can do with the next generation of raw processing tools, like Lightroom’s new Lens Correction toolset, just blows away all of my old results!
What Photographers & Photoshop artists do you follow, and why do they stand out from others in your opinion?
I follow hundreds of photographers and artists on Google+. I will follow anyone who continually produces inspiring work and who shares their skills on a regular basis. It is hard to choose but here are four of my favorites:
Mark Johnson – Mark has been a friend and Photoshop mentor for ten years or more. He’s an artist who loves laughter, creativity, and never stops experimenting. I don’t do much Photoshop compositing myself but I have been watching Mark’s tutorials for years just to see what he will create next. Full disclosure: I was Mark’s assistant on a couple of Photoshop workshops years ago and now I contribute Adobe Photoshop Lightroom video tutorials to Mark’s website each week. http://msjphotography.com/ https://plus.google.com/u/0/+marksjohnson/posts
Derek Kind – I have never met Derek Kind. He is a globe trotting landscape photographer whose work caught my eye. I love his images and his humble demeanor. Consistently great work without any sales pitches or ego. http://www.derek-kind.com/USA https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DerekKind/posts
Forest Woodward – Forest is a dear friend and one of the most talented young photographers that I have ever met. He and his 78 year old father were part of a month long Grand Canyon raft trip that I organized last year. Forest shoots stock and adventure travel images all over the world. You see his images in rock climbing advertisements, the Patagonia Catalog, and Outside Magazine. http://www.forestwoodward.com https://plus.google.com/u/0/116843613641869316377/posts
Jimmy Chin – I told you that I love adventure photography. Well, Jimmy Chin skied off the summit of Mt. Everest! He is one of the photographers that National Geographic calls when they need someone to shoot a high altitude / high risk story. More people should follow his Google+ feed and be aware of his talents. http://www.jimmychin.com/ https://plus.google.com/u/0/106612736375778584778/posts
What social networks do you like most? Which present good examples of Photography the best?
I need to say first that eye candy abounds everywhere. Every social network is full of talented artists producing great photography but Google+ is my social network of choice. It is the network where I feel the most interaction with an ever growing audience and it is the place where I go to find new sources of inspiration. Sure, there are lots of great photographers on 500px, Instagram, Flickr, etc. but none of the other networks have the one thing that makes Google so successful. The one thing Google does better than anyone else is search.
Google+ is where I go to hunt out new sources of inspiration and to learn something new everyday!
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?
Oh boy. I think that I am going to completely dodge the first question on how social networks will evolve. Any answer that I might give, like dump all of your Facebook stock immediately or reopen your MySpace page, would be pure conjecture. The only thing that I am confident predicting is that change is inevitable.
The second question is much easier to answer than the first. The answer to the second question is I sure hope so! I hope that as social media matures that all of the various platforms will do a better job showcasing artists and photographers. As I see it, promoting those who are sharing compelling work is a win-win.
It’s a win for the artist who gets the recognition that they deserve, and it’s a win for the viewers who come away inspired by something they have never seen before. It is also a win for the social network because it creates that much more audience engagement and thus we, the users, end up spending more time on their site. If you want to see a great example of a social media site promoting artists check out the blog at 500px.com
What predictions do you have for the future of Photoshop and Lightroom?
Perhaps it is more a hope than a prediction, but I believe that it has been far too long where our only Operating System choices were Mac or PC. I am going to go out on a limb here and predict that we will see versions of Photoshop and Lightroom for the Chrome operating system in the next year or two. My gut feeling is that Chrome as a full-featured Operating System is coming. My hope is that the Chrome OS will continue to improve over the next couple of years and that Adobe will want to leap into this emerging market.