What is your title, and can you explain what your daily responsibilities are?
Professional Photographer and Instructor. I photograph people and places, and teach people how to do the same. For the last 25 years I’ve photographed mostly weddings, with one recently published in the October issue of Vogue magazine. 2 and a half years ago I moved to Italy, so I’ve been doing more scenic photography, and I conduct mostly private one on one photography workshops in Florence. I’ve also started teaching people Lightroom and some Photoshop online.
What inspired you most to become a Photographer? Why did you pursue this as a career?
I always loved photography, but I had a list of several things I wanted in a career: I wanted not to be tied to a desk, something that I would continue to always learn and grow in, the opportunity to work outside often, control my own hours, be my own boss, and of course do something I enjoyed. I was seriously pondering my career choice while riding in the back of my parents car when I was 22 in Hawaii, and I looked down in my lap and saw my camera, and I suddenly realized photography would fulfill all these goals.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to pursuing a career in the creative fields?
Speaking of photography, someone looking to make a career of it needs to understand that the market has been flooded with photographers. This has happened both because of digital photography becoming widespread and affordable, but also due to technological advances in cameras. The laws of supply and demand say that price drops dramatically when the supply is nearly endless. I once heard a speaker ask “What is the cheapest thing you can buy at Costco? It’s a 14 cent photographic print.” Many people today feel “I can do that” or “you just need to push a button” and the famous “Well, you can fix that in Photoshop”. Unfortunately people don’t value photography as much as they used to, or at least the idea of hiring a professional photographer has much less value.
I want to be clear that I do believe that one can be successful in photography, you just have to be really good, and stand out, and I continue to encourage people starting out, but we all need to be realistic. I have two brothers who are very successful painters, and I’ve joked with them that if there was a magic paint brush that when you smear paint on a canvas 85% of the time would create a wonderful painting, the market would be flooded with painters!
With all the new versions of Photoshop and Lightroom what changes do you personally feel are the most exciting or brilliant?
Good question. For me, the Content Aware Spot Healing Brush in Photoshop just keeps getting better, but the healing brush in Lightroom with the latest updates seems to have quietly become much better also. Before if I brushed on a pimple, for example, it would sometimes try to replace it with an eyebrow, or teeth. Now it gets it right much more often. I also really like the new Shake Reduction filter in the latest Photoshop. I’ve literally had it save a few photos where my shutter speed was just too slow.
What Photographers & Photoshop artists do you follow, and why do they stand out from others in your opinion?
OK, this is embarrassing, but I haven’t really followed too many photographers. A few years ago I was a big fan of Mike Colon, who creates nice fresh spontaneous wedding photography, although recently he does many more stylized photo shoots. I do admire Ryan Brenizer, a young photographer and his famous “Brenizer technique”, which he freely shares. You take a fast telephoto lens, shoot 20-30 photographs wide open of a scene, normally with a bride and groom or a model, and then stitch them together in Photoshop. I also admire the work of Shawn Reeder, who does not only great still photography but also some amazing time-lapse photography. I went with him to Cinque Terre here in Italy and we photographed together in Manarola. The footage from this later appeared in a video, and I especially like his Yosemite, Range of Light work. I do look at photography frequently online, and I take note of what I like, as well as what I don’t like, but I don’t follow too many people. Living in Italy, I have started to go to museums to appreciate great art. Seeing the “David” and other works of Michelangelo, for example, has been very inspiring.
What social networks do you like most? Which present good examples of Photography the best?
Facebook and 500px are my two favorites. I probably spend too much time on Facebook, mostly trying to offer helpful advice to photographers, but 500px is my current favorite photography site. I’ve played with Pinterest, and Google+, but 500px is wonderful on an iPad (not bad on a computer, but it just seems made for an iPad), and I’m blown away by the high quality of the photography there.
I’m also a big fan of my website company, format.com, which is a small company that makes terrific websites for photographers and creative professionals, and really affordable. My current website is under $70 a year, including hosting.
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?
Well, I can’t predict the future, but I think Facebook will be around a long time, although due to Facebook wanting to make money (I can’t really blame them), much of what gets posted there doesn’t even get seen by most people. 500px does a great job, but with both Facebook and 500px there are many artists today that it’s becoming harder and harder to stand out. 500px moves photos up by ratings, which seems to work well, and often it is photographers judging photographers, so generally what is at the top is excellent work, and not just bikini or kitten photography. Social sites are great for sharing and exposing your work to others, but to be successful as an artist you almost want to get people over to your blog and/or website so they stay focused on you.
What predictions do you have for the future of Photoshop and Lightroom?
Sorry, but lately I keep thinking “what else can they really add?”, and yet Adobe keeps doing it. I do think Adobe needs to better educate photographers on how to use Lightroom and Photoshop together, although that is what I am doing as a career lately. I feel like they’ve thrown the 2 programs out in a bundle, and because Photoshop has been around longer and is well known (both programs have the word Photoshop in the full title), I see many new photographers start to learn Photoshop when I feel they should master Lightroom and then learn in Photoshop what they can’t do in Lightroom. I’ve thought it might be useful if the 2 programs were integrated into one, but Photoshop is designed for art directors, graphic designers, and Lightroom is designed specifically for photographers, so I don’t know if this will happen. The only thing I would really like to see is for Adobe to license the Control Points from Nik software, which are amazing at making a quick, accurate, and natural looking mask.