Nicole S. Young is a photographer, photography writer and blogger, as well as an accredited Photoshop professional. Her blog is a source of inspiration for many, and ECR had the opportunity to catch up with her to discuss the current state of Photoshop, the value of Google+ for photographers and more.
ECR: As an accredited Photoshop professional you help photographers with the post-production side of their craft. As a published photography writer you provide insight into the shooting process.
Being so well versed in both aspects of the art, how much influence does understanding of one have in the techniques developed for the other?
Nicole: My knowledge of Photoshop is a huge advantage when I'm photographing an image. It helps me realize how difficult things can be to correct if I made a mistake, or how I can blend images together to get a better photograph in the long run.
When I'm photographing people for my stock portfolio I know that it's in my best interest to hire a makeup artist, even for basic cover-up, so that I have less cloning and touch-up work to do in Photoshop. It also makes me realize how important it is to light my subject properly, since adding too much "fill light" in Lightroom or Photoshop can destroy the pixels and also add artifacting.
ECR: With features like adaptive wide-angle lens correction making their way into the latest Photoshop releases, do you think the ages-old "get it right the first time" mentality is starting to show some cracks?
Nicole: I'm still very old-school when it comes to photography and I think it has to do with vision more than just making the image perfect. One of my favorite lenses is my 24mm tilt-shift lens, and when I use it for landscapes I typically just use the shift function to correct for distortion. I could probably do this in Photoshop with the lens correction filter, and sometimes I still have to fix it a little bit, but there's something I enjoy about getting it right in-camera.
With that said, I definitely think that we have more leeway with our images than when we had to use film, so it's possible that the "get it right in camera" mentality is just shifting to a different level. Photoshop is a wonderful tool, and I use it all the time, but I don't think that any type of post-processing is a replacement for bad photography. I still use those features, but not out of laziness, just out of necessity because I either made a mistake while creating the image or I am being an artist on my computer and want to stylize the photograph.
ECR: The latest iteration of Photoshop also includes built-in video editing capabilities. With the increasing prevalence of HDSLR cameras and their use for commercial video applications, do you foresee a future where products like Photoshop and Premiere are merged?
Nicole: I doubt we'll ever see them as one merged product (at least not with Adobe). The video capabilities in Photoshop are improved, but still limited, and video and still are still two very separate entities. Plus, it's in Adobe's best fiscal interests to keep the products separated. I think it's great to have the video features in Photoshop, since not everyone can afford a higher-end product like Premiere Pro to do simple edits, but it's more of a "stepping stone" than an end product for videographers.
ECR: Professionally you have a highly diverse repertoire: writing a blog, publishing books, selling stock photos and providing help-desk expertise for Photoshop.
Did your multidisciplinary nature always encourage you to seek out new skill-sets, or is this something you started to develop once you entered your professional life?
Nicole: I think I've always had the skill-sets I use in my profession. I've been artistic my whole life, and discovered photography as my "medium" in high school. I enjoyed writing when I was younger as well, but never really considered myself good enough to write a book ... I guess that writing a blog and knowing my subject really well helped with that. I've definitely learned some new skills since becoming a photographer, mostly on the side of business and social media interaction.
ECR: Google+ has been lambasted as a useless social network for the layperson, yet has managed to find cachet with photographers.
What is it about the network that appeals so strongly, and how have you been finding the connections you make have translated into meaningful real-world experiences?
Nicole: Google+ has a beautiful layout for photographs, which is why the photography community has flocked to it as a social network. In the (almost) year it's been online I've met so many people who are now a part of my daily life, and I've met several of them in-person. In May of this year there was the first ever "Google+ Photographer's Conference" which was a very big success and a LOT of fun.
I also think that people who see it as "useless" may not realize how powerful it can be. It's all connected to the Google "universe", and since Google now has personalized searches the people that you follow on Google+ are very likely to show up in your top search results. In my opinion, that in itself is at least a reason to give it a chance.
ECR: You were recently given the opportunity to test out the new Google Glass project and gave a glowing review. Do privacy issues with this kind of "shoot anywhere" product bother you at all?
Nicole: I'm sure that there will be concerns of people worried that people with these devices will be photographing people without their consent. The thing is, it already happens all the time. Those issues don't bother me, I guess as a photographer myself I understand that if I'm in the public then I've lost all expectation for privacy.
However, people who embrace the device will realize that it's perfect for day-to-day moments, like teaching your kid to walk for the first time or recording moments with friends that just can't be easily captured with a hand-held device. It opens up a lot of doors and I'm very excited for the product to be released.
ECR: You released a tutorial on creating cinemagrams in one of your latest blog posts; what do you think the future is for this trend, and do you think it will develop past where it's currently at (i.e. something of a novelty)?
Nicole: I could see something like this on billboards, or in interactive magazines (the kinds you find on tablets like iPads, etc.). For me it's really just a novelty, something fun to play around with and share on my blog but I think it has potential, especially for advertising companies.
ECR: As you progress in your career, where do you see yourself moving forward? For those not yet as established as yourself, what advice can you give to the aspiring photographer / photography writer?
Nicole: I always see myself doing what I'm doing now: photography and writing books. In the future, hopefully not too far away, I'd like to start expanding what I already do in the form of workshops and teaching. My specialty is food photography, so I would love to do small workshops on that, and I also love teaching about Photoshop on my blog and can see that growing in my future as well. For those wanting to make a career in photography or writing, I think that the best thing they can do is practice their craft everyday.
That could mean writing in a blog, becoming active on social media, or creating photographs that challenge your current skill level. With the rise of self-published eBooks that's also a way for photographers, particularly writers, to find an outlet for their skills. Overall, though, whatever you do I think it's best for people to be authentic which is something I try to do everyday. We respond more positively to people who are true to themselves, and not just trying to sell something or be some "fake" persona.
You can see more of Nicole's photos, writing and tutorials on her blog.