What is your title, and can you explain what your daily responsibilities are?
I am Executive Director of the 20×24 Studio, the home of the Polaroid 20×24 camera. This camera was created by Polaroid in 1976 and has been used by prominent photographers and artists such as Chuck Close, William Wegman, Mary Ellen Mark and Joyce Tenneson. I am also an educator, teaching classes in Photoshop, Lightroom and digital video.
What inspired you most to become a Photographer? Why did you pursue this as a career?
My father was the consummate Polaroid family photographer and I was always fascinated with the cameras he used to photograph us at holiday gatherings. I think I was inspired to buy a couple of packs of BW instant film in 1968 and just try some things. I then got a 35mm camera for high school graduation and that pretty much sealed my fate. I got to work on the college yearbook as a photographer, took a creative photography class and then switched my major to art.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to pursuing a career in the creative fields?
Self doubt. You have to believe in yourself and what makes you special. In today’s world of ubiquitous phone cameras and DSLR video everyone thinks they can create. They can record, but that does not mean they can create.
With all the new versions of Photoshop and Lightroom what changes do you personally feel are the most exciting or brilliant?
I think the content aware capabilities of Photoshop are the most revolutionary. The basic engine of Photoshop has remained the same since version 3.0 when Layers was introduced. Many of the enhancements over the years were essentially an enhancement of the interface, making it easier for photographers to access the techniques that were always there. (Mask Panel for instance). But Content Aware, both in Fill mode and in tools like the Healing Brush (also found in Lightroom) save so much time. Retouching methods that took 10 minutes or more can now be done in seconds. I also think the Quick Select Tool is brilliant. I used to spend a half hour making a selection with the Pen Tool that I now can do in minutes with Quick Select.
What Photographers & Photoshop artists do you follow, and why do they stand out from others in your opinion?
I am still inspired by the generation of photographers ahead of me, Ralph Gibson, Jerry Uelsmann, Lucas Samaras, Duane Michaels.
As for Photoshop artists, my favorite is Maggie Taylor. When I look at Maggie’s work I wish I had done it. Julieanne Kost also inspires my work and I admire her ability to continue to be creative while she has an incredibly demanding job.
What makes all of these artists stand out is a signature vision. You know the work is theirs the moment you see it. That is not an easy accomplishment.
What social networks do you like most? Which present good examples of Photoshop & Photography the best?
I am heavily invested in Facebook, both personally and professionally. Since it was the first I think it still has the best photography content. You unfortunately have to wade through so much to get to it, but it is there. I am on Google+ but rarely post. I think it is better in the sense that more serious content is there. But most people who post there post the same things on Facebook. I don’t have time to post to both right now. That may change, but for me Facebook is still king.
I use Twitter and Instagram but have not really taken advantage of those platforms yet. I also have three websites that I put content on. I do this all myself and there is only so much time. One needs time to create content in order to be able to post content.
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 keep waiting for Facebook to annoy everyone so much that it collapses. Their obvious need to monetize their efforts may eventually alienate everyone so much that they give up on it. The connections we have with friends and with our audiences that we have built up over time are very hard to give up on and so for the time being I think Facebook will endure.
As far as showcasing photographers I am still of the opinion that you are much better off having your own independent platform in the form of a website or blog and then linking your content form your own site to Facebook or Twitter or Google+. I am not a fan of them being the sole platform for my content. But the reach of Facebook is phenomenal. I can post great content on the 20×24 website and get an average of 100 viewers, maybe 800 under extraordinary circumstances (such as a photo of Lady Gaga) but Facebook on average will get 5 times the views. People like to stay in their Facebook cocoon when they are on Facebook.
What predictions do you have for the future of Photoshop and Lightroom?
I always say I don’t know how these programs can get any better and then they do. I think the mobile versions of PS and LR will become increasingly important, particularly with the bigger iPhones and the processing power of the new mobile chips. Android is poised to have raw processing power in their latest OS and you know Apple won’t be far behind. I still actually prefer the desktop experience, with all of the tools and a monitor where I can really see what I have. But I recently took the plunge on an iPhone 6+ and love it. I can see doing more on that platform that I would never have done on a smaller phone. But I am still old school. I love Channels and the Pen Tool.