What is your title, and can you explain what your daily responsibilities are?
I am a photographer, mentor and online educator specializing in helping other photographers enhance their creativity through online mentorship and education. I also shoot Weddings Portraits and Fine Art Nature photography. I lead workshops and photowalks all around my great province of Ontario Canada. As a self employed artist and educator, my responsibilities range greatly from day to day and month to month. I could be spending my days (and often nights), focused on creating videos and leading online classes this month, and away on an outdoor adventure with other photographers next month. One thing I have learned over the years is it’s not enough to know what you do well, it’s important to know what you don’t do well or don’t have time for. So I focus on the creative side of business and get help with things like bookkeeping and paperwork. I also trust others to help mentor me in areas I need help in like reaching goals and staying focused.
What inspired you most to become a Photographer? Why did you pursue this as a career?
When I was young, 10 years old, I remember having an epiphany. I was upstairs alone and after having finished yet another drawing, it became clear… I am an artist. It was one of my gifts and I knew that I would always pursue arts. In High School, Grade 10, I took a photography course and I loved it. The camera, light, film, the darkroom. I couldn’t get enough. I also found myself in a bit of a conundrum. How to be an artist AND love photography which at the time, I didn’t see as “real art”. It took years to reconcile the two but by the time I was in my early 20’s I had become a photographer, a photo retoucher and restoration artist. by 25 I was also teaching photo retouching and restoration at one of our local colleges and soon began teaching evening painting classes to adults continuing education. I loved it. I found a way to join art and photography and discovered a love for teaching as well. Photoshop changed my career very quickly and I was soon out of work as a retoucher and retouching teacher and for a while did not pursue this “new” technology. That has all changed now though!
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to pursuing a career in the creative fields?
I would have to say first is opposition from others who don’t see it as “a real job”. I was fortunate to have a supportive father who encouraged me to be what I was born to be, but I suspect that was because his father told him to “get a real job”.
The second is valuing yourself enough to learn how to charge enough for your time and talents. Notice I didn’t say making money was the biggest challenge, I think the fact so many have trouble making money at the arts stems from creatives loving what they do so much, they are afraid to, or don’t know how to begin to charge enough for what they do. If I could do it over again, I would be taking a business and marketing related course for every three art courses I took. Being a photographer an artist or a Photoshop expert means it isn’t likely you will find a job like you would if you were a marketing manager or an administrative assistant. The creative fields often require you to find unconventional revenue streams, or at least ones that aren’t often listed in the help wanted section.
With all the new versions of Photoshop what changes do you personally feel are the most exciting or brilliant?
Wow, that’s a big question! I would have to say one of the things I think I love about Photoshop is Adobe Camera Raw and the creative sandbox it gives me. I don’t think I would have said that had it not been for how Lightroom has changed how I work on my images. Camera Raw is the engine behind Lightroom’s Develop Module as well and it is not just for colour correction or tone adjustments, using It I have found Camera Raw to offer endless creative abilities as well with things like Split Toning, Graduated Filter and the Adjustment brush that gives me incredible creative freedom before I even open it completely to Photoshop. Once in Photoshop though I would have to say I love tools like the adaptive wide angle but not for buildings, for landscapes! it’s a fantastic tool for fine tuning creative landscape work as well. I think I first learned to experiment outside the box more after we had John Paul Caponigro on The Photoshop Show and he used it and other features in very unexpected ways. Finally I have to mention the Content Aware possibilities have really changed the game for increasing the potential to quickly edit what in the past would have taken hours.
What Photographers & Photoshop artists/creatives do you follow, and why do they stand out from others in your opinion?
I already mentioned John Paul Caponigro. His approach as an artist to his photographic work resonated instantly with my own creative vision and as I learned he is also a highly respected educator and workshop leader he became a top choice for inspiration. Though I don’t do composites as as much as I’d like to, Mark Johnson has really impressed me as a creative encouraging and enthusiastic educator in Photoshop. Qualities I hope I incorporate in my own work. Having been a co host for the past two years on The Photoshop Show I have met a lot inspiring personalities. There are just so many! I could say the wit and wisdom of Julieanne Kost, The sincerity of RC Concepcion, the Photoshop empire of Scott and Kalebra Kelby have lead the way in the finest photography and Photoshop education available anywhere. I could go on and on and on. This industry is full of the most sincere and generous people I’ve met.
What social networks do you like most? Which present good examples of Photoshop and Photography the best?
I Love Google+. It’s no secret. It really changed my life and my career at a time when I was feeling a bit like a flopping fish on the creative dock of life. It’s clean interface and the way it presents images was an instant hit for photographers and a huge global community quickly formed which I became active and engaged in early on. because of the On Air Hangouts and the ability to broadcast live and to YouTube, it gave me and many others a platform to flourish in and use our gifts in new and exciting ways like live demonstrations and broadcast interview style shows. I think though everyone has to go with what works best for them. For example, my wedding and portrait business benefits more from Facebook currently than G+ but that is changing This year I have had more students from my local area participate in my online programs on Google Plus, as well G+ has been a much better platform to promote workshops and photowalks. I don’t “get” Twitter at all, though I know some who love it as a social platform. I was far too late into the Flikr game to really understand how to have any real involvement there except I do like the way it displays images.
The short answer is I think if you are an educator using video, G+ is inevitable.
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?
I think of what 500px has recently announced. A platform that was already fantastic for displaying some of the webs finest images has announced it is throwing its hat into the stock photography ring and is even offering an unprecedented 70% payout to photographers on the sale of their images. I need to look into the terms more but It may be a huge step in the right direction. I wouldn’t call 500px a social network, it’s more a portfolio site but I could easily see a social network forming with the strength of the photography community on G+ with a searchable and marketed database of images. I wouldn’t hold my breath hoping Google does it though, it just isn’t part of their business model and would be too small for a company of that size to invest resources into it. For Photoshop and Lightroom educators and experts, I think Google Plus with it’s YouTube integration will be a powerful platform for a long time yet. It is still in it’s infancy and with the Hangout features and screen and document sharing, I don’t see another platform challenging it for a while.
What predictions do you have for the future of Photoshop and Photography?
Photoshop has demonstrated year after year it is the Big Daddy when it comes to providing photographers and artists the best most supported playground to create in. I long for the day they make the interface a little more intuitive for the beginner, but then again it has created a fantastic community of educators to help those beginners learn it! Cameras are changing at an astronomical rate and it won’t be long before we will all be taking video and simply pulling the best frames out of it for our still photography. I’m not sure how i feel about that as I haven’t fully embraced shooting digital video yet. I suspect I’m not alone. Photoshop with it’s built in video editing features will continue to improve and it will simply morph into a more robust still and video production suite. Technology is changing fast and it is at once exciting and quite scary.