Guest Blog: Photoshop World Instructors

If you’re wondering if you should join Photoshop World, here are some examples of what our instructors could teach or inspire you. Below are excerpts from a few of our favorite Photoshop World instructors’ guest blogs. Click on their names to see the full messages. And if you find the inspiration, imagine what awaits you in Photoshop World!

Gilmar Smith: Make the most of what you have and develop a personal style

I still work with the first and only camera I ever had. My trusty Canon 5D Mark II. I bought my Elinchrom flashes around the same time I bought my camera. It was probably September 2011, and these are still the only ones I have. My computer is about as old. It even died to me a few months ago, and I bought a new hard drive, new battery, turned to YouTube, and fixed it myself. It’s proof that when you want something, you go for it. I can’t find excuses. I’m drooling over the equipment, but I’m supporting two kids and building my empire brick by brick. So I’m doing the best with what I have.

It comes down to what makes you unique. I get a lot of messages from people asking me how can they get into the photography business for a living. And, to be honest, those questions were the inspiration for writing this blog post.

I don’t have all the answers. My process was not easy. I had a lot of doors closed in my face, and I had to dust myself off, get up and try again. But I was fully committed the entire time.

First, find your niche, then make your work stand out from the rest. You can only do this by investing long hours in your craft. Try different techniques. There is no shortcut. Put in the hours and be creative.

Where to start ? Well, in this case, you start by doing the introductions and the simple portrait. Always working on making the unusual out of the common, we start at the shed. With nothing more needed than a camera and lens, I’ll show you that by simply moving a subject around a shed, you can find spectacular lighting to create that first portrait. This huge, wide-open door is an excellent source of light and the hangar is a place where the pilots are very comfortable. The combination of the two is how you showcase your skills and passion to the pilot who can hopefully complete more of that air to air photo mission. In our Air to Air class, we also start at the beginning, ie on the ground. Light is what concludes our visual storytelling and hands-on learning is key! How do you do this? You will then see that we “steal” a model by looking at the light falling on it, the background, and then the combo to tell the story. You learn like pilots do, at ground school before you take to the air. We have everything planned for you, all you have to do is insert your passion to make it all come to life!

Photographers come to photography often thinking that f/stop, shutter speed, and Photoshop are the biggest challenges to success. Not to scare you, but it is the easiest and easiest to master in this craft. It is only after you think you understand the light that the challenge becomes truly personal and mastery progresses. Because that’s when you need to invest the most important ingredient for improvement, time! Personal projects where you invest your heart, time and personality in telling the visual story are what photography is truly about. Stories unfold every second of every day across the world, giving us all the opportunity to explore and invest, to fail and succeed and what I still feel is life’s greatest pursuit. The ball is now in your court to move forward, remember, passion tells the story!

Kristina Sherk: Retouching in Lightroom vs Photoshop

Suppose you want to make five changes to your model’s iris. So – let’s hypothetically think about how we would do this in Photoshop versus Lightroom.

In Photoshop, you will need to create five different adjustment layers to make these changes.

1) Color balance (make eyes bluer)

2) Saturation (make eyes more colorful)

3) Contrast (makes iris highlights and shadows more intense)

4) Refine (bring out iris details)

5) Curves (make the iris brighter)

6) Place all adjustment layers in their own group and paint the mask where the effects should be seen.


Gosh – I’m exhausted just typing all this! This would easily take a Photoshop novice at least 10 minutes. Now… let’s think about what we would have to do to achieve the same effect in Lightroom.

1) Click on the Local Adjustment brush

2) Drag the Temperature, Saturation, Contrast, Sharpness and Exposure sliders to the desired levels.

3) Paint ONE Stroke on each eye.


And PRESTO! You have finished! I did the same 5 iris changes in less than 30 seconds (yes – I timed myself), with just one tool! This hypothetical scenario saved the average user nine minutes and 30 seconds! And to take this concept one step further, think about the number of photos you edit per day and you will immediately see the time savings of this new way of thinking!

Steve Jobs, and now almost every leader in the modern corporate world, believed that design thinking was an essential skill for success. Understanding how to creatively solve problems isn’t just an “artist’s” mindset, it’s a process. One that is taught and practiced by some of the biggest companies in the world today. For some, in this modern age, it is a natural phenomenon that comes naturally to them. Companies like IDEO and others have really pushed this process into designing anything and everything. From shopping carts to lamps to logos. Quickly prototype their ideas with a fail-quick mentality so that when something breaks, they quickly learn from it and course correct. How would you apply this to your own services and value proposition? While this isn’t a process you put your clients through, it’s something you can run through your own ideas to see if they can be justified. Evaluate them with peers and see if they have the same results.

The key to Design Thinking is to consider the impact, or experience, of the user versus the creator. What will this mean for those who receive the experience versus the experience of the person solving the problem. This alone offers a shift towards empathy with the audience, the audience for our brand.

Empathy: Defining and understanding the audience.

Define: Specify exactly the problem to be solved.

Idea: Brainstorm and group all the ideas you can around the needs.

Prototype: Build a proof of concept from your ideas.

Test: Try it on media, or with a specific audience, refine and improve.

Kristi Odom: Finding a big story in small places

The story was gaining momentum. I asked a friend and amazing bee photographer (Brooke McDonough) to come help me document these incredible humans and fascinating insects. Then one day, I received an email from National Geographic: “The story has been approved!” I burst into tears (in all honesty, hitting it now made me cry again). Not only did my dream of being published in National Geographic come true, but I was able to share a story that brought attention to insect population decline and also highlighted my heroes who learned how much change we can all make (a link to the story can be found here).

Visiting the same park again and again showed me how close biodiversity is to home. From bird life, frogs, plants, flowers, insects, there is so much to photograph in our own local parks and backyards. We’re the best storytellers for our local spaces, and we don’t have to travel far to marvel at wildlife. It really is all around us.

It’s funny how life takes us on a journey. My camera was sitting in my closet too long. Now I create and marvel at nature almost every day. From the continuous time-lapse that happens in my house to taking my camera to watch the owls in a local park. I am constantly creating and connecting with nature. There really is beauty all around us.

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