Apr 5, 2005

Interview: Bryan Lamkin

Bryan, Adobe just concluded the ideas conference here in New York, it was quite a line up of speakers. Did you design the conference around the launch of the new Creative Suite 2 or did you design the launch around the conference?

Actually, we joke internally that the conference is now bigger than our launch…

Kidding aside, we are very fortunate to have relationships with great photographers, designers and creative professionals that continue to inspire us, drive us to innovate and further develop our Creative Suite products.

Our vision was to bring together the very best, creative minds to help inspire students, photographers, film and video enthusiasts and creative professionals toward idea generation and provide a forum for interactive discussion. What better place to kick off our first-ever Adobe Ideas conference than at the launch of the next-generation Creative Suite. We’re celebrating another launch of the powerhouse design environment that really shook up the print and Web workflow for creative pros and we’re glad that our launch pad is made up of those customers – our most loyal supporters.

We heard Bruce Chizen, Adobe’s CEO, talk about design in a cluttered world, how does Adobe approach designing tools to help designers cut the clutter?

We know we can always add more features, more menu items and more tools to our products. But if we don’t also consider helping people communicate those ideas, faster, more intelligently, more efficiently than before, we don’t have a killer application.

The Creative Suite 2 is everything but the idea. We have focused on streamlining the workflow so all the designer, photographer, publisher has to think about is that one brilliant idea.

For instance, with our flagship product Photoshop CS2, we concentrated on adaptability and workflow. We know that everyone uses different pieces and parts of our application and you’ll see that we’ve incorporated new customization and assistance options that let you adapt the environment to suit the needs of individuals, specific projects and project types. We also focused on efficiency to make every day tasks even faster and easier. Again, we’re trying to help designers focus on the creation, not the process it takes to get there.

Back when Adobe announced the original Creative Suite, there were skeptics. Would the Suite concept work, would Adobe be able to maintain its development schedule? How has the original Creative Suite done? And, how large of an advance is Creative Suite 2?

The success of the Creative Suite has shown us that our customers really appreciate the ability we’ve given them to work across these applications. There is tremendous value in the integration found in the Suite, as well as the features and tools specific to each individual product.

Now, 18 months after we first announced the Suite concept, the Creative Suite Premium edition continues to sell beyond our expectations.

We have completely overhauled every product in the Suite. The Creative Suite 2 Premium Edition integrates new full-versions of PhotoshopCS2, InDesign CS2, Ilustrator CS2 and GoLive CS2 – with the all-new Version Cue CS2. The recently released Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional is also included, as a key application in this milestone software release.

We have also added the Adobe Bridge. The popular Photoshop File Browser has now been replaced with the Adobe Bridge, a full-featured browser and Creative Suite control center that can be launched independently or accessed from any Suite application.

How did Bridge evolve from the Photoshop browser to serve the entire suite?

The File Browser in Photoshop has always been very popular with our customers. We decided to leverage the power and utility it provides to create Adobe Bridge. The Adobe Bridge is a full-featured browser and Creative Suite control center that can be launched independently or accessed from any Suite application. It really reinforces the integration between the Suite applications.

Working on alpha and beta with John Nack and his band of Bridge Builders, I saw the evolution of Bridge, but more form the standpoint of Photoshop users, how does Bridge help the entire Suite?

One of our key aims with the Creative Suite was tight integration and the ability to streamline workflows for creative professionals. Bridge helps reinforce that integration and it more closely links the applications, files and workspaces. It’s a hub that people using any application within the Suite can access.

It also provides access to Adobe Stock Photos, a new stock photography service that offers one-stop shopping for high-quality, royalty-free images for layout and design.

So, you guys sprang a bit of a leak the other day and one of the things some photographers picked up on was Adobe Stock Photos. Could you explain that a bit more?

Oh yes, Web hiccups happen all the time…although we didn’t mean to leak any information, we were happy to see how excited people were to hear about a new version of Photoshop.

The Adobe Bridge provides the access point to the new Adobe Stock Photo service, a one-stop outlet where creative professionals can access high-quality, royalty-free stock images and illustrations within one familiar interface. We are giving our customers one central point for them to manage their photos, graphics, etc – a centralized location for them to access all the things they want to do. This falls into the realm of our vision for Adobe Photoshop Services and you can expect us to provide more of that convenience, ease of use and control in the future in the form of other related services.

This was developed to help service the needs of creative professionals and streamline their workflow. We have have introduced a Photographers Directory to link pro photographers with this creative community. We’ve also concentrated on posting educational materials on our Web site to help image purchasers understand licensing issues and the difference between royalty free and rights managed images.

How does the Photographers Directory help photographers, designers and art directors?

The Adobe Photographers Directory is a listing of professional photographers accessible directly from within Adobe’s creative professional products. It’s meant to link pro photographers with the extensive creative professional community using our Creative Suite products, providing them additional exposure to people who want to leverage their services and buy their images.

The Photographer’s Directory sounds like a serious commitment by Adobe, what are Adobe’s goals for the directory?

The Adobe Photographers Directory will be initially available in North America and over time will be extended to include photographers from other markets. We have decided to work closely with the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) to populate the new directory. In addition, we will work with the Advertising Photographers of America (APA) and other associations to ensure the Adobe Photographers Directory is a comprehensive professional photography resource.

We understand the important role photographers play in the creative process. With a comprehensive professional photographers directory we will help connect Adobe’s creative professional customers with high quality professional photographers.

Your announcement also mentions the PLUS Coalition and Adobe’s heavy involvement. What are your thoughts on the importance of the PLUS efforts to aid and facilitate the licensing of rights-managed images?

We believe the PLUS Coalition is a very important organization to be a part of and our lead sponsorship is a testament to that. This organization represents many of the people we create our products for – photographers, illustrators, stock photo agencies, advertising agencies, advertisers, graphic design firms, publishers and associated industries. The mission of the PLUS Coalition is to simplify and facilitate the licensing of rights-managed images.

Through the PLUS Coalition, licensors and licensees work cooperatively to develop and implement licensing standards and systems that will bring picture licensing into the 21st century. As a member of the Sustaining Advisory Council, we will regularly contribute to the PLUS Coalition technical working group.

With the advance of digital cameras, did Photoshop and Adobe luck out again?

The Photoshop team is a highly innovative and insightful group that has always done a great job of listening to their customers and anticipating how emerging technologies will impact their workflows. If working hard and listening to customers is lucking out, then this team is a four-leaf clover.

Adobe has made some serious commitments in the photographic industry, Camera Raw, DNG, and now the Photographers Directory and PLUS. How important is the photographic market to Adobe?

The advancements made with Camera Raw, DNG, Photographers Directory and PLUS demonstrate our concern for the challenges and issues that photographers face. We remain very committed and connected to the photography market.

Professional photographers were the vanguard of the digital photography revolution and have driven us to improve and evolve Photoshop into the professional standard for desktop digital imaging. Because publishing workflows had gone digital, commercial photographers and photojournalists were first to transition to this new technology…and the rest of the professional photography world soon realized the benefits.

In addition, IDC expects to see 300,000 digital SLR cameras shipping each month of 2005. The proliferation of digital SLRs means more customers who need companion software to make the most of their digital photographs. They want professional, high-quality results and our industry-standard Photoshop delivers that.

As a former Product Manager on Photoshop, did you have any idea back then that Photoshop would become what it’s become?

I have been involved with Photoshop since I first joined Adobe in 1992. It’s amazing to see us reach our 15th anniversary with Photoshop and to see it continue to expand it’s relevance to trends in imaging and broader communication. Its popularity has created a National Association of Photoshop Professionals organization in the U.S. with thousands of members. You might be surprised to note that our customer base extends beyond creative professionals. Photoshop has an equally passionate following among amateur photographers and photo hobbyists as well as institutional customers who use Photoshop for image analysis, architectural renderings or for medical reports. Clearly, this was not all part of a grand plan dating from the early 1990’s. Photoshop has evolved organically in anticipation of emerging market needs.

If I remember correctly, at the Photoshop 3.0 launch party, you said something along the lines of, “Photoshop 3.0, now we’re done-we can quit”. Is that close?

I guess I have been labeled with that quote. That was a jibe pointed at the Photoshop engineers. This team has very high standards of achievement and after each release, they ask themselves “how are we going to beat that?” Photoshop 3.0 was a monumental release with the addition of layers and a host of other features. I said “we’re done” but they knew I meant “we will never be done”. The digital imaging landscape continues to evolve rapidly and provides a rich canvas for a very creative team.

With 6 more versions under Adobe’s belt and a new baby on the way, how has Adobe continued to advance Photoshop so far?

We listen to our customers, we watch how they use the product and listen to the challenges they face in their workflow. We also respond to the trends out in the marketplace, as you’ve seen with the advancements we’ve made with Camera Raw, the developments with the DNG file format and the creation of the Photographers Directory, accessible from within Photoshop CS2. We strive to innovate and think about the future ahead for our customers – as we have with the introduction of High Dynamic Range (HDR) in Photoshop CS2.

So Bryan, do you like your job?

I have the best job in the world. With an industry-standard product like Photoshop, a creative and innovative engineering team and such a passionate customer base, I never tire of thinking about where we can take this product. I’ve been at Adobe for over 13 years and find great satisfaction in creating these market leading digital imaging and digital video products. I’m still having a huge amount of fun…

Interview & Portrait by Jeff Schewe
Note: Bryan was originally scheduled to be at the idea conference but had to cancel at the last minute. The interview was done via email–although Bryan indicated he was able to keep track of what was going on in New York via PhotoshopNews.

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