Color of Place with Julieanne Kost
Hey, folks, in this interview, it's all about color with Julian cost an evangelist from adobe. Welcome back to this week in photo. I'm your host Frederik van Johnson. You know, it seems like this month. We've been talking a lot about color. We've been talking about this diving deep into the the nuts and bolts and DNA photography composition color exposure, you know, those sorts of things that nuts and bolts that make up photography beyond the gear stuff that everyone obsesses over. I'm lucky enough today to have someone on the show whose amazingly talented. I mean, if you haven't heard of her body of work or what she does for a living. You will certainly know after this interview, but it's Julianne costs as I mentioned in the tease Julianne is an evangelist at adobe we're gonna find out what evangelism is at adobe. But more importantly, we're going to dive into color and get our feet wet and kind of, you know, hopefully, make it less scary for people who are afraid to sort of experiment with color and use it as a compositional. Element Jillian costs. Welcome to this week in photo. How are you doing? I'm doing great. Thank you so much for inviting me on the program. It's great to see you again. It was great to see you again. Like we were saying before we started recording. I don't even want to put a number on how long it's been since. I've seen you. It's it's been way too long. I remember when I was working at adobe. My office was just down the way from yours and from time to time I would come over and bug. You. And ever ever Buckingham us. We worked together. Right. Really? Well, but yeah, we did we did we come to ask you, you know. Saltaire questions about Photoshop because you know, everything there is to know about Photoshop in. That's outwear not to and I've forgotten a lot in fact. Yeah. I think I've forgotten more than I know. Now, you probably forgotten more than I know. But that's awesome. So let's let's start there. So first of all, I mentioned, you're an evangelist. So for the folks who may not know it in Vangelis does in tech. What is in evangelists only? Let me let me set the stage the before coming to adobe the only evangelist that I had ever heard of was guy Kawasaki. At apple in. He was Vangelis than apple in, you know. And that's kind of what kind of drew me into the apple what does an evangelist doing adobe semi relative Demi is to create hopefully, inspiring and also educational information and get that out to people our customers. However, I can so whether that's a live event or through a blog post or social media anything to to help our customers learner products, and you know, really improve their photography or their design or whatever area of their field. Is it what would you consider your SOGA looking at the stuff that you do even back when when when I was at adobe, you do some really cool. What's the word for it? Compartmentalize bodies of work like you'll give yourself a project. And then just you know, like you were doing that project and people many people remember back in the day. You did a project where you doing photographs out of plane windows, you remember that? But it's self contained. It's like you have this pithy and do something brilliant. And now you have this thing. And then you move onto the next thing. Tell us about who what defines you photographer designer creative. Would what do you? Call yourself ask you, let's not let's not limit it. Then I don't wanna get in that argument. Like well to target offers. Don't composite multiple images together. So I'm borrowing this from. From Keith Carter, who's a wonderful photographer whose work. I really admire and he calls himself a lens based artists. So if we have to put me in a box, I think that's a pretty big bucks to put me in. Of doing great, right? Because then there's no more conversation about what's proper. What's correct? You know, can you crop? Well, if you can crop. But can you distort images in what if you put to him and just together just it's a slippery slope? So I prefer just to say know, I'm not a documentary photographer. So I'm kind of allowed to do anything. I want with my photos, so interesting. I remember remember having dinner with a local Tigra front if he's still local Steven Johnson. You know, Steven Jones, absolutely great guy, and we were just street from Dobie. And we were we were having this discussion, let's say about what was proper photography a awhile ago. So in the he was of the the mind that cover photography means. You don't touch it. Right. You don't manipulate the image? And what you see is what you get. And you know, so it's it's the truth. You're you're you're Petach affir-. So your job is to tell the truth or whatever in my my response. And I forget who else was there. Another Dobie personals air forget who is. But our response was, but you're making choices along the way, you're. Making choices about focal inks, even if his shooting film, you're making choices about the film stock that you're going to use all this stuff is going into even the larger imprinting the image. You're making choices why not just make those choices digitally. So. Interesting conversation. I think it's a continuum, and I think everyone has their own process. So for me, I I don't mind, you know, I think it takes all all types of photographers. I'm super happy with photojournalist. I mean, they can capture it all in Cameron everything I think it's amazing and it's more documentary. And then there's just you know, I just don't put those limitations on myself. But it doesn't mean that other people, you know, are wrong to do that in some of them obviously have to like morally unethically, but I guess I'm just fortunate that I don't have to and I can go do what I want. Exactly. That's the whole big creative. You can be whatever you want. It's it's it's subjective sub subjectivity of its finest. But I want to dive into the whole color part of this this conversation because that's going to be really exciting. But before that I want to just do a little check in on software. Right. Like, I mentioned you are, you know. Okay. You don't know everything about Photoshop, but you know, more than most carbon based lifeforms on the planet. Let's let's so let's say that. So I'm not gonna put you on the spot. Obviously. I know you can't talk about anything future or coming up or anything like that. But for folks that are using Photoshop today. You know, it it it is sort of become, you know, as you know, it's become part of the lexicon. It is part of our language in terms of how we describe digital manipulation or whatever, you know, for better for worse. What do you think? What's what's missing today? You know, in terms of you know, there's a constellation of software out there on on. Noble. You know, and people say yeah, Mobile's a future. Everything's going to mobile. And then you hear no, you know, professionals need a need a proper, computer. What do you think is missing? In terms of the feature set that we need as you know, sort of lens based artists or photographers, or whatever we call ourselves in order to make our work take our work to the next level or conversely, are we already they're like are we arguing about something? Are we arguing about a spaceship? You know, that you in sort of discounting the fact that we're able to go to space. You know, what what do you think about that? Well, I think that for me personally, one of the things that has happened over the last few years is the whole like connectivity devices. So I don't think that there's just like there's not one camera and one lens there's not like one device for all photographers are all creative individuals. So the more devices we can get the applications on which are basically the tools that we use to create. Things than the better off. Everyone is going to be. So it's not a small fee to get that connective. When different you know, just think about like an ipad versus a phone versus a desktop machine. They're all they're all designed an have special kind of considerations for the usability of those products. And so to get something to work across all of them. I mean, that's what I want because I'm not always sitting at my desktop. I'm not always wanting to do something on my phone. So to be able to connect across all my devices and access everything at all times that to me is super interesting. Agree in in thinks things just change so quickly. Right. So you know, I was having a conversation just yesterday with a friend of mine we're talking about portraiture, and we were trying to divine you run on Wikipedia. We were trying to define what portraiture is. And we we still have been successful. But it sort of came to the the we came to the conclusion that portraiture the word portraiture came about a longtime ago, right? When when people were take e had a portrait session, and you went for many weeks to sit for your portrait than they worked on it. Whether it was a sculpture or or art. But now things are a little bit different things have changed. Right. So do we need like from your opinion? Do we need a new set of words to describe the stuff that we're doing, you know, even if a talker portraiture landscape, mackerels, all these things are fluid. A because there's there's many different ways to do things. And as you said, there's the whole composite side of things, you know, do we do we need new words, or should we just, you know, forget about labels inches? Move forward and create art. I think I think you're right. I mean, I think it's fluid, and it's always going to be fluid. Always it always has been fluid. Right. We've moved from four by fives or eight by tends to four by five thirty five millimeter to mobile devices and everything and it's going to continue to evolve as technology evolves. Go Caballero will evolve as well. So I think just to have maybe a bit of a broader mind when you use your vocabulary that might encompass additional things for me for because you asking about the future as well. I think for me one of the really exciting things is. You know, how some of the things that I didn't really care to do. I mean, I don't I don't really want to sit in have to re touch every pixel. And so now all of a sudden we've got like white room where I can do things so much more quickly and so much better. Honestly like to to be able to process because I do believe that making the image. Right. Whatever you capture that is definitely half of the equation. But the other half of the equation is what you do after that what you do in in post processing, whether that's because you're trying to get an image to look like the actual scene in which it was taken or whether you're embellishing that to look like something else. That's just you know, your personal choice. But what I've noticed in the last especially five years, and maybe something an example would be like with late room with the presets and the profiles, right? Super powerful tools that are really easy to use and help me get to where I wanna go more quickly. So for me that is also really exciting. You. You will do one of the other sort of buzzwords in the industry in many industries, you know, self driving cars, and you know, technology, or or artistic type technology, like, Photoshop, etc. Is artificial intelligence, the, you know, and but where does the line where do we draw the line or this article money was a couple of days ago? And it was you may have seen this. It was about how you know. You're gonna have to do this computer is basically an experiment this software. Artificial intelligence algorithm that was able to generate completely fake people that looked realistic. Right. I didn't see that. So that's kind of a whole nother topic. If made hours on e I'm thinking, more of of artificial intelligence in our products such as key wording. I mean, I. Sleigh. Like, I spent my first sabbatical I spent three weeks back in the way back machine keyword in my entire image library. I don't care to ever do that again. So when I see something like adobe sense, which is what we're calling our artificial intelligence writer like being able to find all of the images that have a puppy or a seal or something in them anything that can help me I love or in Photoshop more. Specifically, it would be like, you know, we have select subjects so that was trained through a I or the the auto button in light room classic. You know to auto tone images that was trained using millions of photographs. So things like that. They are going to help me be more productive be more efficient. And so I totally embrace that technology, and I think like all technology in a weather. We use it for good or evil. We just have to see how that turns out. But for me anything that can help me with the mundane kind of busy work of autocracy. I'm more than happy to let 'em. Artificial intelligent, personal assistant helped me out there. Venus with computers are flora supposed to make our lives or technology in general is supposed to make our lives easier. Not harder and more complex because we still have to come up with a creative ideas. Right. Our vision. It's our message. We're the ones who are trying to communicate something to other people. So I don't think they're going to replace that anymore. They they can help us. But but they're not coming up with the ideas. You know, we'll have to do another interview at some point where we talk about the implications of AI because like you said any tool can be used for good any. All right. So in humans in are known to be to do both. So, you know, there's a lot of stuff going on with this deep fake stuff in, you know, everything. So we'll talk about that another time. But I wanna talk about color and Chris amazing. Like, I said, you you you give yourself. These projects have been you make amazing bodies of work. The latest one is all about color. Tell me about that one. You know, and what was the impetus of of this project? It's called the color of place is okay. Tell me about the color of place. Okay. So so for those of you who don't know much about me. So I do have a background in psychology. And I've always been interested in the study of human behavior, and sort of mar specifically like how how things in our environment or how external things can influence how we behave and how we act and how we think and at the same time, I have always liked photography, of course. And and more as a as a way of self expression, right? And maybe to gain south awareness and reflection. Like, I did a project once just on. Trying to figure out, you know, just taking a picture everyday. Like, so many people do and it's a great project because then if you look at that body of work afterwards, you can really start to see the relationship between what you photograph where you photograph. How you feel when you photograph? So it's not involvement a psychology and photography kind of that pairing. That's really interesting to me. So an my dad, and my mom, of course, played a big role in this. So my my mom is a graphic designer and she was a silk screener. And so that's a very additive process. Right. And for me what I realize now is that in my photography because I was always taking very graphic images. And I didn't know why. And I was feeling like, oh, well, you know, I'm not getting that epoch landscape. I'm taking this little detail over here. Why is that? I think it's because about additive process in the influence on my mom where she only included things in her designs that were critical to the design. So she filtered everything else out. He and my dad he also lives tiger fee. He's an engineer. And so. When we would go photograph together. Of course, the only thing I wanted to do as a teenager was take a picture that was different from my father, down course. What you do at that age. Right. So it's kind of these two influences that that also can help bring this body of work together. But. I joined the Dobie a long time ago for those of you who don't know like ninety two I was in technical support, and then user education, and then I took this job of Angelism in the reason that I tell you that is because that led me to be on the road, a significant portion of my time, and like you mentioned earlier Frederick that limit taking pictures out the window plane because that's where I was finding my inspiration reliving the. I was it was either or a conference center or hotel room or the back of a cab, you know, getting from one place another. And so the thing is is that that taught me a very important lesson which was you need to weave in your photography, especially if you're not doing it full time, you need to weave it into your life like your daily life, like it's really easy to pick a project, and I have some of these where you know, you have to travel to exotic places, and you have to be there. Exactly the right time of day. If you're getting Northern Lights, or whatever it is you're doing, but how do you as just a normal human being also involved photography on a daily basis? And so even though it seems like, oh, you took pictures out the plane window will that's because that's where I was or I did another book called passenger seat which was motion blur out the window of a car. But again, that's where I found myself. So even though you might not saying that you have like something really interesting in. That's really accessible everyone does because everyone lives a different life. I mean, you might have. I don't know you might have. Test horses or something or or farm. I mean, everyone has different experiences. So I guess this is just the latest the color place project is just the latest in these series of personal projects that I've tried to weave into my life in the what's the what's the ultimate goal. Julian is down the road. You see a, you know, a volume one the book of Julianne cost in all the projects that you've done over, you know, a certain time span and then leading into next one you you ever planned to put them all together and make them available or you just gonna keep Molly yourself, and I don't know. I don't they all go together or not, you know, it's kind of goes against what we think of is traditional photographer who is known for one specific style. But I find that. Maybe i'm. Maybe my attention span, isn't that long? I mean, I love to create bodies of work. But just because I create when doesn't mean that I have to do that forever. I'm okay with saying, you know, what that body of work is done. And that's what so this color place that is definitely falls into that category. Like, I'm I'm done. So when I do take on a project a lot of times, I will do a few things in order to help me just define the project. I always try to work backwards from a project. I find that's really helpful. So with this project. I thought right. I need to know more about color will actually let back up one more step. So what I was really thinking. When I started the project was why when I go to some locations, do I take better images. Basically. I mean, I was looking noticing that when I went to Berlin was a three day trip. But I I somehow managed to take a a very cohesive unified body of work. And then when I was Antarctica it happened the same way. And so I started. Wondering why were those two locations really successful? Whereas when I went to the US Virgin Islands like I was not successful. At all. I couldn't even find the images later to make really a color place from that location. And so I started analyzing my images, which I think is super important for everyone to do not only analyze the good ones. But also compare them with the bad ones and figure out like, okay. I won't call them. Good and bad. That's kind of judgy. But let's say the ones that you think are more successful in the ones that you think weren't as successful. Like look at those ones that aren't as successful in trying to figure out why. So the common theme that became very obvious. Very quickly was color in mind. Like when I was in locations, it had muted colors or similar colors, monochrome, whatever lack of color lack of saturation. I was much more successful taking images there. But see there's you know, what I wanna to dive into is. How do you see that? Right. Because like you said you have a background in. I mean, you've you've had parental units. That were creatives, you know, which influenced you presumably and in your fantastic artist. You see color, you understand composition all those things. But new photographers that are coming in Neil, maybe afraid of color or may not understand the impact in the power of using color, and some people even go so far as you know, I I'm a black and white photographer only, I only see the world and shades of grey, right? So because they're afraid of color, in some cases, you know, they're afraid right? Not in all cases. Not at all cases. Yes on art. Of course, of course. Black and white is fantastic. But some people shy away from color because they're not exactly sure how to leverage it in their own work. You know, we're not going to solve it in this this interview, obviously. But what are some steps that photographers can take to see better in color into sort of change the way that they're looking at the world. So that they see like, you said, the muted colors and more vibrant colors. How can they get that sense of color in? A place. I think it just takes study. Right. So when I define this, and I started working backwards. I said, okay. So I want this project to be I decided I want to print them really large like I wanna print him like six feet. So that determined the size of the images that I had to work with. So I knew I was going to be working with really large images. I also defined. All right. How many images are going to be in this body of work? So I thought right. Well, I want twenty five from all over the world. So I'm going to pick twenty five locations. And then I thought all right. So then how long is this project gonna take you and gave myself six weeks 'cause I just said I can't I can't do this forever. I just need to learn about color, and I also gave myself some reading assignment, so I bought some books and some of my friends, I of mentioned the project in recommended some some books, but most of it honestly was online rating just about color theory and complementary colors in split complementary colors and things like that. So this whole concept of you know, if I was if you're free to use color. I don't know if you're. Afraid to use color. They just haven't found the colors at work for them yet. So the color. I mean for me why I would use a color photograph is because it's going to it's going to reiterate the message that I'm trying to drive with the color. So that's why I think sometimes when people start applying presets they look at a photographer's work in start applying these presets as they love that work. And then they realize, you know, it's it's not working with my images will because it's not just color. It's the way that the color plays with the subject matter. So if you know color tells a story, and you can look at a lot of cinematography, they the way they color grade. They're the mood lease, you know, if you wanna tell a story that's bleak and in the future than maybe you're gonna use some green tones, and you're going to really dial back the century Shen. So it's just really starting to look at color because as you use those presets, for example, if you if you've got like a really happy little baby, and you're using some futuristic. Bleak. Preset on it is not going to go over. Well, right. So it's a balance of the content as well as as the color will unless you're doing like, a Shuki film or something then. Exactly, there's there's always exceptions. I'm saying abroad as a broad statement, look at the content. Look at the way people are dressed, right? Like if they're dressed in supermodern closed than than maybe an older like a preset. That's kind of aged isn't isn't gonna look look as good as maybe a modern more modern preset. Do you Juliette us taking not you're obviously, a you said something that really, you know, of resonated with me, you use to begin with the end in mind, and you define you put the you put your project in a box and use the word project because we've been talking about personal projects on this week in photo. But you talked about projects from a body of work standpoint. It's like which I like to have better. You know, you're creating a finite compartmentalized body of work versus personal project. Sounds like okay. I gotta go build a a, you know, a tree house in the backyard, right? This is the body of work. It's just a small body of work and by defining it, then you you don't have project creep, right? Because once I define all these things. I am limiting the scope. I mean, I could tell a class of students that go out and take a twenty pictures, and you know, some students would just go out and take another ones would be lost like of what? Right. So you have to sit there and go cable, let's just narrow it down. Like, I told you to take twenty pictures of of chairs, at least you have a theme. So when I define a body of work, then I also do little things to really help push that body of work along. So for example, you know, once I've defined how many in and all that I would make those collections in light room. So in this case what I did is is I took for the colors of place. I took fifty of my favorite images from each shoot. That I thought best represented that location guy. So I took those images, and I put him in a collection in light room. And so now I have twenty five. Different collections and every time I finished one, I would color code it. Be like check I'm done. And that gives me it gives me like this vigil representation of I am doing this. I am moving this project forward because sometimes you know, if projects if you don't if you don't set a duration. I don't know it gives like an intensity to for me. And I make sure I tell a few key people. So that I've gotten this, you know, this deadline. I told our social media people like I want to have this done by January. And I told a friend of mine. This is what I'm gonna do. Now offset and I'm held accountable. No. So how's that going as well? It makes me make better choices of what I do with my time. Speaking of time, are you are you doing multiple of these, you know, body of work projects at a time or do you just set yourself on one tangent? It's linear onto the next one at how do you manage that? I always try to have more than Lyon because just life happens. And you knew can't always do the project that you have intended you. So I always find it's really good to have more than one project is also sometimes it's just maybe you're, you know, you're thinking ahead of your skill set or something, and you just need to set that aside while you do maybe a smaller project that will help you with maybe one aspect of a larger project. Do you? Photography. I mean, it's a continuous education. Right. It's not like it's not like you go to school for year in in your done here. Like, I know photography like no way. I hope not. I hope I haven't I opened. I haven't learned everything we're we're all practicing, right or broadcast. Exactly hurt. I love it. I love it will cool. This is this is fantastic. If people want to take a look at some of these bodies of work that you put together. What's what's a good location? Where you've got them serve all corralled together for easy consumption. Okay. I'll have to. So if you're interested in looking at the bodies of work that would just be Jay cost dot net. So that's an adobe portfolio that I've put together, and that's really easy to go to. And then if you want to look at more about like Photoshop light room, and how To's in instruction that would be my blog. So that's blogs dot W dot com slash j cost. JK OS team. Julianne cost. It's a pleasure. It's been a pleasure isn't way too long you, and I are gonna have lunch very soon and has been too long. And it's been great to see you. And thanks again for having me on the show. You're welcome. Thank you so much. I'll talk you said, okay.