What is your title, and can you explain what your daily responsibilities are?
I’m owner of Mark S. Johnson Photography. For almost 20 years, I’ve been sharing creative and inspiring Photoshop techniques with my audience through tutorials on my website www.msjphotography.com, the KelbyOne and Planet Photoshop sites, and also in books and magazines.
What inspired you most to become a Photographer? Why did you pursue this as a career?
There were several influential individuals/moments that inspired me to pursue a career in photography. The first individual was a teacher in high school who encouraged me to think outside the box and create images and stories that resonated with my personal vision. The second individual was a paintbox artist at a video post-production facility where I worked who introduced me to the astounding universe of Photoshop. To this day, I’m still giddy with excitement that Photoshop allows me to create practically anything I can dream up. The third moment was when I first spotted a sheet of Fuji Velvia sitting on a light table. The vivid colors and gorgeous tones sold me on the idea that it was finally possible to share via film what I saw and felt while I was in the field. When digital capture was introduced several years later, the idea of being able to jump from capture to Photoshop in a matter of minutes made my heart flutter. Suddenly the creative process was wide open to me.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to pursuing a career in the creative fields?
The biggest obstacle is self doubt, negative criticism from others, and believing that there is only one right way to do something. Over the years, I’ve encountered hundreds of students who have been convinced by a parent, teacher, or camera club that creativity is bound by rigid rules…somehow photography is limited to capturing only tack sharp images with minimal post-processing. This way of thinking causes us to shut down to our personal creative wisdom and begin creating what others believe we should create. I encourage anyone who wants to develop a sustainable career as a creative artist to learn to quietly dismiss criticism and learn how to listen to your own authentic voice.
With all the new versions of Photoshop and Lightroom what changes do you personally feel are the most exciting or brilliant?
I’ve been using Photoshop since version 2.5 in the early 90s. Over the years, I’ve witnessed numerous innovations that have knocked my socks off. The first was when Adobe introduced layers and masks. To this day, I believe that understanding masks is critical to unlocking the full potential of Photoshop. The next was the dawn of adjustment layers. The idea of non-destructive color and density correction was revolutionary. A few other less sexy, yet game-changing innovations include blend modes, layer styles, smart objects, background save, and the Camera Raw dialog.
What Photographers & Photoshop artists do you follow, and why do they stand out from others in your opinion?
As an instructor, visual artist, and boundary buster, Corey Barker is hard to beat. Julieanne Kost’s evocative imagery and gentle teaching style continue to make her one of my all-time favorites. Since photo compositing is one of my greatest passions, I’m in awe of the work of Uli Staiger.
What social networks do you like most? Which present good examples of Photography the best?
I’m relatively new to the world of social networking, especially Facebook. Since joining not long ago, I’ve developed some great relationships and seen a lot of inspiring work. As a platform, I love Google+. Google has created a clean and simple interface that makes sharing fun and easy. Their platform puts the focus on imagery. I’m a particularly big fan of Google+ hangouts because they allow us to share knowledge and inspiration with hundreds (even thousands) of people in a live, interactive learning environment.
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?
Facebook groups and Google+ communities are already exceptional places for photographers to share images and ideas with like-minded individuals. I’m guessing that there will be even better ways to collaborate on projects and market our work in the future.
What predictions do you have for the future of Photoshop and Lightroom?
It’s hard to say what’s ahead, but I’m hoping for innovations that include particle brushes and atmospheric effects generators. These tools will be particularly useful for compositors. The Quick Selection tool and Refine Edge feature are already pretty amazing, but I’m wishing for continued improvements to selection-making and edge-refining technology. I’d also like to see Adobe add more (and better) natural media filters and brushes, such as oil paint (which disappeared in CC 2014), watercolor (which needs improvement), acrylic, pastel, ink, pencil, chalk, charcoal, impasto, and crayon.