What is your title, and can you explain what your daily responsibilities are?
Well, as far as my title…. I’ve struggled with that one. I consider myself an ‘artist’ above all, and my approach at making art has varied over the years from being a musician, rock & rap producer, graphic art, and photography. Now I’ve sort of put all that in a melting pot, using music as a source of inspiration while using skills I learned over 20 years of being a graphic artist. I picked up photography 2 years ago, and it put a spin on things I wasn’t expecting. So short story long, I would say I consider myself a ’Photographic Story Teller’. More often than not lately, my work has been composite photography, but I do weddings, family shots, portraits and other forms of more traditional photography.
What inspired you most to become a Photoshop artist and trainer? Why did you pursue this as a career?
That’s a multi-part answer really. I got into graphic design so many years ago because I was in a band that couldn’t afford to pay anyone to create a website (1993 maybe?). So I downloaded a web design program called ‘hotdog’, which was way before dreamweaver or any of the other web design applications we use today. This was the beginning of nearly a 20 year career in web design and print design.
What inspired me to be a photoshop artist was a combination of elements as well. I created my first composites out of stock imagery for one of my band’s CD cover inserts 4 years ago. Then in the summer of 2013 I decided to try a composite with all my own images (non-stock). Not having any training in the proper way to get realistic results in my composites, I just played around with an image for about 10 hours or so. At the time, I thought it was the best image I had ever created. But as we all experience, the more you practice, the worse your previous work looks to you. I eventually stumbled across Glyn Dewis and Joel Grimes on youtube. I had no idea that people were combining images in such a way that was so convincing and striking to look at. They made it look so easy. And it is, but is not a quick process. Anyone can do it in my opinion if they have the patience to do all the steps, and not compromise for the sake of time.
Becoming a trainer stemmed from people requesting training videos of me showing my techniques. The requests were mainly coming from groups on Facebook such as ‘Photoshop and Lightroom’ (your Facebook group). People were wanting to know how I was putting together my images. I decided to actually put some tutorials together after doing a live Google+ hangout with Wacom, which consisted of you and I, and representatives of Wacom (leaders in the digital tablet / pen industry).
I had mixed feelings about showing my techniques because I wanted to help people out for sure, but also realized it would make it harder for me to stand out with others putting out work with similar techniques. But then I realized that shouldn’t matter too much because my techniques change from image to image as I grow anyway. I worked hard to take what I learned from Dewis and Grimes and put my own spin on it to separate myself. I still refine my process with each image I put out, and I’m at the point now where I hardly use any of the techniques I originally learned from tutorials of Dewis and Grimes. More out of respect for them than anything. I want to be different than them, yet inspired by their work and work ethic if that makes sense. I don’t create a lot of tutorials now, that was more of a phase I think. Creating tutorials take up so much time, and I’d rather use that time to create my art, not explain how I make it. But that is not to say I won’t do them again if I was compensated for the time should I become more well known.
I pursued my visual art as a career because I just love doing it. I love taking background images more than any other part of the job. I get to hop in my vehicle and just drive with no plan, explore the world around me and jump out when I see something interesting and capture it as a background. I also really love the process of pulling people out of their shell in a photo shoot. More often than not, the photo shoot is like a private party with me and the subject. We break out beers, crank up music that fits the vibe of the person I’m shooting images of… and we just keep pushing until my subjects let down their guard and trust themselves to be bold, outrageous and beautiful. The editing process, I treat much like the photo shoots. I play the exact same music that we listened to while shooting the subject’s photos. This keeps my head in the same vibe, helping me retain my original rough vision of where the photos are ultimately headed. Often my clients provide me a playlist on Spotify that consist of their favorite music. This helps me understand them as people so I can pull their personality out in a shoot. It also turns me on to tons of new music that I end up loving after hearing it over and over again. And that inspires me to go in even more new directions. It’s a snowball effect.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to pursuing a career in the creative fields?
The biggest obstacle to me is getting your work seen and in the right hands. You can produce amazing work all day long, but if nobody ever sees it, you only end up decorating your own walls. But if you are pursuing this as a career, you have to spend a ton of time pushing your work on social media. You also need to be researching markets that you feel your work fits into and approaching them directly via emails, phone calls, snail mail, etc. And most importantly, trusting your gut over all the criticism you will receive. You have to decide if you are an artist that you want the world to embrace, or if you want to embrace the worlds take on how your art should look. Neither is right or wrong, but you need a clear vision before you can really get into the game. I found after doing this for about 9 months, my direction and goals have changed. I started off wanting to do commercial photography for ads in magazines. Now I’m more focused on fine art / gallery showings / coffee table books. Me being an artist that people accept or dismiss ‘as is’. I don’t want to have anyone trying to mold my art, I want them to love what I am able to do on my own. So I guess that’s several ways of answering that question.
With all the new versions of Photoshop what changes do you personally feel are the most exciting or brilliant?
Well, I would say the top of the list for me is Camera Raw being able to be applied as a filter to any layer, smart object, etc. That gives huge control over an image. I use this feature a lot. And the improvements to the quick selection tool, that is a big one for me as well. Honestly, there are too many improvements for me to list. I find new improvements all the time, so I’m unsure I can say which are the most brilliant this early in the game. But CC is a big leap forward from versions past in my opinion.
What Photoshop artists/creatives do you follow, and why do they stand out from others in your opinion
I follow very few artists. Not for conceded reasons, but because I feel you can see too much of a beautiful thing. That can lead to trying to make something similar either consciously or subconsciously. I feel learning from people like Joel Grimes and Glyn Dewis was like taking a college course. You are supposed to practice what you learned, and then go out into the world and apply what you have learned in a way that is your own. So when I do follow a person’s work, it’s generally for a short period… until I see how I can run a different direction with the inspiration they gave me. What made those two people stand out for me was how they make their subjects look timeless, larger than life. And I plan on keeping that aspect of what I learned from them, while continuing to invent my own ways of reaching that end goal, giving me my own signature feel, not a knock-off of my teachers.
What social networks do you like most? Which present good examples of Photoshop and Photography the best?
Well, this question is a loaded one for sure lol. For publishing my latest work, I think I would have to say 500px.com is my favorite. And this is mainly because it feels like a contest every time you upload an image. It lends a lot of perspective to your piece. Within minutes, you can either jump to the top of the heap if people connect with the art you upload, or hardly get any views at all if they aren’t feeling your work. I find this platform helpful to me because it pushes me to accept that how I see my work may not be how others do. Doesn’t mean I will change my style based on how my work is received, but it does give me a pulse on what images of mine are more likely to sell in a gallery setting. As far as promotion goes, facebook has been where I push my work the most. It’s just so easy to get it out there on facebook. And it’s more of an interactive experience. I like talking with people after posting, answering questions…. giving background behind the stories of my photos when people are curious enough to ask.
I have however learned to put some distance between facebook and my daily process because it can be quite distracting. It’s important to post your work, and comment on others work. But pick a time to do this. Don’t feel obligated to respond every time a new comment pops up or you will find yourself getting no real work done. I often let comments build up for a day or two and then address them all at once to be more efficient with my time. I use Google+ quite a bit as well. Honestly, I am on most of the major social media sites, but I keep my distance until the time is right. My A.D.D. is just too strong, and it doesn’t take much to throw me off the course without proper discipline.
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 predict Facebook as loosing serious ground over the next few years. There are so many new social media platforms that allow you to express yourself more freely, at higher quality and less intrusively. Facebook to me as turned into a beast of burden. At least from an artistic perspective. I think people over the next few years are really going to start seeing how social media has actually put more distance between their personal relationships than it has helped them. People seem to spend less quality time with family because they can type a few lines of text and then go back into their self centered lives (yes, I’m including myself in this statement). People can’t put their phones down these days. Why we call them phones at this point is beyond me, since most people prefer to post images of every moment of their regular day, text or message, rather than make a phone call. We are all becoming disconnected in our humanity. And I think people are starting to finally feel that. This is going to spark change in how we look at social networks. How? That I am afraid I don’t have an answer for. But I know that if I feel this way, many others are probably feeling the same. I have no predictions for how social networks and showcasing art will play out. I hope it becomes more simplistic, clean, and easier to stand out by offering better ways of targeting your desired audience.
What predictions do you have for the future of Photoshop and Photography?
Photoshop? Man, I have no idea. But they have such a strong foundation built on their software already, I think it’s safe to say they will continue to be the leaders in professional photo editing software for many years to come. As for photography, I predict we will soon be going to much higher resolution printing, more and more megapixels, and as far as styles go, I think just like with music, we will see that we will always be fusing old with new techniques…. creating the jazz of colors and texture that is never ending and always changing.