Drawing Upon Past Experience
Getting to post on Scott’s blog is always a treat, thanks for having me back!
This month marks twenty years at Adobe for me! Looking back, it still feels like a dream. I first got into photography when I was seven (largely because I couldn’t draw); and when I say I got into it, I mean, I went DEEP. My passion for cameras had me doing anything and everything related to the medium – eventually processing and printing photos; repairing and selling cameras; even freelancing as a motorsports photographer.
Then, in 1996, photography introduced me to Photoshop at a Seybold seminar. I must’ve watched Adobe’s Photoshop 4.0 demo 5X over that day – it was immediately obvious to me that my future had something to do with the magic happening at Adobe.
“Obsession” is way too weak a word…within months, I’d packed-up and moved to Silicon Valley with the single-minded intent of working at Adobe. That sounds ridiculous and it absolutely was; I didn’t even own a computer! With the naivety of youth, I never accepted any other path; an interim job handling digital retouching orders for two dozen camera stores solved my computer & Photoshop problems.
I joined Adobe in the Summer of 1999 as a Quality Engineer on the Photoshop team, the job was essentially: test and break the app – I was completely in heaven! Stepping into product management nearly 15 years ago was another impossible dream come true; the opportunity to help guide Photoshop for so many years taught me a lot about the many ways that people use the application & how software is made. While I’ve spent most of my career looking forward, it’s interesting to look back at my years on the Photoshop team and to see how much the product and the workflows have changed.
I’m often asked, “How has Photoshop endured the test of time?” Sure, there’s the fact that the Photoshop team has always charted their own course; constantly innovated; expanded platforms & services – all while maintaining a very high bar for quality & performance…but there’s more to it than that. I think that much of Photoshop’s success can be attributed to the product’s ability to adapt.
Photoshop’s plug-in architecture has always allowed developers to communicate directly with the product – whether that’s bringing in unique file formats; exporting to specialized devices, or just adding missing functionality. That same flexibility exists within the fabric of the team, whether pivoting Photoshop to the growing needs of web designers with version 5.5; welcoming the digital camera boom with version 7.0.1, or exploring entirely new verticals; there are hundreds of examples of the team addressing the needs of a new or expanding segment.
The other thing about the Photoshop team, is that they know when the solution lies beyond Photoshop itself. The example of Camera Raw is a good one; at the time, we were seeing the mass proliferation of digital cameras; suddenly photographers expected Photoshop to deal with thousands of images, not the one-at-time workflow that it was originally built for. Photoshop answered that call with the File Browser (which would later become Bridge) and Camera Raw.
While this acknowledged a massive shift in I/O, the world was changing dramatically, digital photography wasn’t just for tech-savvy, early adopters, but for everyone and new devices required a streamlined, focused, editing solution and a digital asset manager in one…that solution would of course become Lightroom, a product I continue to be very closely involved with, both as a user and a spokesperson.
Lightroom allows me to use Photoshop for what Photoshop does best – while moving faster and shooting more. Because of Lightroom, I’m both more creative and more efficient. Lightroom and Photoshop have never been more closely integrated than they are today, thanks to Creative Cloud. Creative Cloud allows Photoshop to integrate deeply across application, surfaces and platforms – keeping Photoshop as the hub of hundreds of creative workflows. Clearly, sometimes the best solution to the problem is a brand-new product.(more…)