What is your title, and can you explain what your daily responsibilities are? & What inspired you most to become a Photographer?
I don’t know if I have a title per say, but let me share with you a bit of my artistic life and how it has transitioned. I consider myself a digital artist which includes being an author and instructor. By the way, I have just signed a contract for a new book that will be focused on 3D in Photoshop. In addition to books I create digital tutorials and inspire others through my traveling presentations. My deeper love is creating art that is personal to me.
I began painting and drawing but I felt that I needed a camera for taking reference photos for my paintings. After buying my first SLR camera which was a Minolta X700 35 mm, I quickly realized that I had no idea as to how to use it. I chose to take a beginning color photography class at a local college. I was hooked.
Within that same year my girlfriend and I decided to take a camping trip to Yosemite Valley. We decided that since San Francisco was so close that we would take a detour to see the city. It would be my first time in San Francisco. It so happened that the work of Ansel Adams was being exhibited at the de Young Museum and since he was one of the photographers that my instructors encouraged me to read about, I had to go see the work myself. Keep in mind that at this time I am also taking “Darkroom Techniques 101” which focused on the fundamentals of B&W Film processing and paper processing.
In front of me stood mural sized B&W work that exhibited a symphony of luminance values and compositional impact that had me stunned. I stood there trying to understand why his work was so great and mine sucked so bad! After that experience I dedicated myself to mastering as best as I could B&W photography as an art form.
Why did you pursue this as a career?
All artists do what they do because the medium addresses their particular personality. Why do some sculptures choose clay while others favor stone or steal? And why do some choose the canvass while others relish mixed media? For me, the combination of the artistry and the technology is fascinating. In other words photography is a technology that represents and defines my day and age as an artist. At one time the canvass was the means of expression, then the printing press and now it is the camera which gave way to the proliferation of digital. In all honesty, photography and digital choose me.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to pursuing a career in the creative fields?
I feel that the biggest obstacle is the inability of establishing one’s own uniqueness artistically and creating a following based on it. You see, it is always easy to follow someone else who has paved the way or market for a particular style of art. I could have followed Ansel in what he did but the more that I studied his life the more it became clear that he was an innovator or maverick who was trying to break his own established mold. So, in essence, I wanted to be true to myself.
With all the new versions of Photoshop what changes do you personally feel are the most exciting or brilliant?
I began with version 2 and I have seen a lot of changes. Now we have Photoshop CC 2014 and I am proud to see that Adobe continues to push the envelope that will assist artists to create in unique ways more effortlessly. When I began there were no layers then in version 3 layers revolutionized Photoshop. In version 4, I remembered gaining more filters. Of course this continues to adjustment layers as well as a whole new nondestructive workflow. Today I feel the more important addition to Photoshop is the ability to import, create and now print 3D content. That is a game changer for Photoshop.
What Photographers & Photoshop artists/creatives do you follow, and why do they stand out from others in your opinion?
Let me answer your question with a little more insight into my personal experiences and influences. After I finished the photography program I was exhibiting my B&W fine art landscape and texture compositions internationally in a series of group and solo shows. I originally focused on B&W artists that we now consider master photographic greats like Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Ruth Bernhard, Bruce Barnbaum, Ray McSavaney, Brett Weston, Aaron Siskind, John Sexton, Paul Caponigro, Josef Sudek and Michael Kenna to name a few.
Then I ventured in the work of Joel-Peter Witkin and the Starn Twins.
One year I had a solo show exhibiting 50 of my gelatin silver prints at the International University in San Diego. I know that it was in the early 90’s because this was before my presidency at the Art Institute in Balboa Park. I noticed this short man with thick glasses intently looking at each piece of my work. My curiosity got the best of me and I had to find out who this guy was. I introduced myself and he proceeded to tell me that he was Irving Lefson and he was 92 years old and he thought my work was quick good. I thanked him for saying so. He then proceeds to introduce to me to his wife and shares that I need to see some unusual photographic techniques that he was now willing to share for the first time. I was invited to dinner.
When arriving I saw some very interesting paintings on his wall. I asked him if they were his and he joyfully says yes and corrected me by making it clear that they were not paintings but photographs. I was so intrigued that I spent and entire 3 years before his passing getting a foundation in the foundation of modern art and the American Abstractionist movement. Why that particular movement? Because that was the time and place that he grew up in as an artist. You see I met him at 92. During the depression Irving had a thriving business that sustained him in New York. He had the opportunity to met and know artists like Jackson Pollock and many of his fellow abstractionist. Part of my training with him was to read the book title “Pollock” which had just been released written by Naifeh and Smith.
Every day we covered a different artists beginning with Cezanne and progressed well into the movements of the Impressionists, Expressionists, the Pointillists, Abstractionists, Cubitsts and Futurists to name a few. It was impressed up me that the reason these artists were great was because they found a way to express themselves uniquely with the medium that best represented their time as an artist.
So, today I am fascinated with how this digital medium has created a whole new breed of artist so I love the work of: Brian Haberlin, Meats Meier, Andrew Jones, Scott Spencer, Marcel Dejong, Jennifer Hachigian and Dave Jerrard to name a few.
What social networks do you like most? Which present good examples of Photoshop and Photography the best?
The best social network is always face to face interaction! This is a concept that some have relinquished in favor of mass media interaction. You cannot replace the strength of a personal relationship with your clients. However, if you want to more of a superficial interaction then consider social networks like Facebook, LinkenIn, Twitter and now I am getting into Instagram.
My favorites for Photoshop and photography are: https://www.facebook.com/MassiveBlackInc, https://www.facebook.com/groups/conceptartorg/ https://www.facebook.com/groups/zbrush.artists/ https://www.facebook.com/groups/Conceptand3d/
What is your prediction of the evolution of social networks?
I believe that television, telephone and radio will combine into a single network experience for worldwide interaction.
How do you think these networks will showcase artists and Photographers better in the future? What predictions do you have for the future of Photoshop and Photography?
In my opinion Photoshop will continue to address the needs of a wide variety of artistic traditions in a single version. It already addresses the needs of photographers, painters, 3D and designers and it will improve upon these areas as well as integrate film making and film editing to a larger degree.