Daily Archives November 3, 2021

Life Lessons from Photoshop

Rare is the software application that transcends its basic utility to become not only a ubiquitous element of pop culture and daily life for many, but also a verb. Photoshop is one such unicorn. 

As such, many successful approaches to life can also be applied to gaining proficiency in Photoshop—and vice versa. Here’s a look at ten life lessons to be gleaned from and applied to mastering one of the world’s favorite software applications.

Flexibility is Key

While there’s no easy Cmd/Ctrl+Z equivalent in life, the value of flexibility is easily understood. Just as having options in life makes it more manageable , maintaining flexibility in Photoshop is also crucial. Smart objects, masks, adjustment layers—these are game-changing ways of working that provide the ultimate in flexibility. Use them to your advantage.

Experimentation Leads to Breakthroughs

Throughout human history, there are many storied examples of how experimentation, happy accidents, and unexpected discoveries have led to enormous scientific breakthroughs (penicillin, anyone?). The same sense of curiosity and wonder can be applied to Photoshop to unlock new potential. What effect does the Difference blend mode have? How many different ways might you make use of the Render > Difference Clouds command? How exactly might the Pencil tool be useful? What happens if you invert your image or apply your edits in a different order? One of the best ways to figure out what a command or setting in Photoshop does is to push the limits and see for yourself. Drag sliders to their extremes and see what happens. Unlike life, you can’t ruin Photoshop with poor choices. There’s always a way back.

The Learning Never Ends

No one knows absolutely everything there is to know about Photoshop. Everyone has their respective silos of mastery. Some know everything about working in 3D, others can teach you everything there is to know about non-destructive editing. But there is always more to learn. Even after 20 years of Photoshopping, I’m constantly surprised by random little quirks or hidden surprises I somehow never stumbled across before. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to ask questions of some of the original masterminds that have been part of Photoshop’s creation since the beginning—and even they didn’t have all the answers. Let this be both a comfort and a call to action. In life, as in Photoshop, the day we stop learning is the beginning of the end.