What is your title, and can you explain what your daily responsibilities are?
I am owner of Laura Shoe Digital Training. In a nutshell, I am a Lightroom (and occasionally Photoshop) instructor. I produce and offer comprehensive video training; I author free tutorials, videos and webinars (available through my blog); I conduct web-based private instruction and troubleshooting; and I teach in-person workshops and lecture on digital topics.
What inspired you most to become a Lightroom instructor? Why did you pursue this as a career?
I was completely burned out and unhappy in my corporate career, so I took a summer off to develop photography as a hobby so that I would have more balance in my life. I went off to Rocky Mountain School of Photography’s Summer Intensive program – and had one of the most wonderful experiences of my life- living and breathing photography every day for 5 months, with 90 other photographers, in Missoula, Montana. I fell in love with photography and with Photoshop (Lightroom wasn’t around at that time). I also learned an important lesson from being in Missoula, a beautiful and friendly town where people choose to live despite the lack of high paying jobs. There it’s not about how big your house is or what kind of car you drive, and people don’t look down on you if you work in a coffee shop – instead it’s about being happy. I realized that I would be better off living a simple life and pursuing what I am passionate about.
I went back to Chicago afterwards, jumped off the corporate ladder, sold my place and moved to Missoula. I assisted in RMSP’s Photoshop classes and discovered that I really love teaching – particularly, helping people overcome their anxieties around complex digital topics, so that they can come to love photo editing as much as capturing their photos. I started teaching Photoshop and later Lightroom, started writing a blog, I made a few videos and people loved them so I made more, and from there I expanded to offering full Lightroom video training products.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to pursuing a career in the creative fields?
I’m not sure what’s the biggest, but I’ll offer that it’s not enough to be able to capture beautiful photos or make beautiful art. You have to have a tremendous amount of determination, and be willing to get up every day and get out and market yourself. I personally have always struggled with this – I’m more of an introvert, and am most comfortable in front of a computer or behind my camera rather than out there promoting myself – but every rewarding leap in my new career has come from pushing myself to do something that felt scary to do.
With all the new versions of Photoshop & Lightroom what changes do you personally feel are the most exciting or brilliant?
I really have been most focused on Lightroom lately, so I’ll stick to this. I’m really excited about a couple things:
First, the continued addition of new powerful tools to the Develop module. When Lightroom 1 was launched, a mentor of mine said “It needs local adjustment tools!”. I replied (in front of a group of people) , “There’s no way Adobe would add these, as it would cut into their Photoshop sales.” Of course, Adobe did add local adjustment tools, and with every new release they add more and more powerful tools, and I make fewer and fewer trips into Photoshop.
Second, I’m excited about the idea of being able to access my Desktop Lightroom catalog and work on my photos from anywhere – which means from my iPad, iPhone, the web, and from my laptop – and then have my work sync back to my Desktop. This isn’t all possible yet, but with Lightroom 5.4 and a the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, we have effortless syncing to and from the iPad, where you can do some basic work.
What Photoshop artists & Photographers do you follow, and why do they stand out from others in your opinion?
Right now I’m not following a specific list of people (though Michael Kenna is one of my favorites). However, I find myself constantly inspired by what folks post in your Photoshop and Lightroom Facebook group. There is beautiful photography, made even better with Lightroom and amazing Photoshop artistry. I am also inspired by those who post who are new to photography – it takes courage to put your work out there, and getting constructive criticism is an excellent way to grow.
What social networks do you like most? Which present good examples of Photoshop and Photography the best?
I wish I had more time for social media, but at this point I use Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Google+ presents photography much better than Facebook does.
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 don’t really have any predictions, though I always look forward to technological advances and new offerings – it’s hard for me to fathom life without the internet!
What predictions do you have for the future of Photoshop and Lightroom?
I have high hopes that we’ll see the ability to combine multiple photos in Lightroom. For me, combining multiple exposures (HDR), creating panoramas from multiple photos, and creative compositing of photos, are tasks I’d love to be able to do in Lightroom, rather than having to go to Photoshop.
I would also love to see the catalog and file management approach somehow simplified. Over 80% of the online private sessions I do with folks are on “how to clean up my Lightroom mess”. I feel that a more intuitive approach by Adobe could free users up from this, so that they can really enjoy Lightroom rather than struggle with it so much. Given how wonderful Lightroom is, it is too bad that the most unintuitive part is the part folks have to encounter first.