Adobe Talks About the Method and Challenges of Creating Photo Software
Dream jobs are made where individuals labor in love, and passions are fostered. It is where “working” is hardly the right descriptor for they day-to-day. Seeing people who truly love their work and work for their passion is rare. I want to tell those stories, and I found one worth telling at a place where they produce the tools that make the lives of creative professionals possible- tools that often at first we never knew we needed, but now would find it impossible to live without.
Almost a year ago, I knew I wanted to hear the story of Adobe and meet the faces and names behind the software I, and I’m sure all of you, use every day. Adobe did not ask me to come in, did not pay for this coverage, and the process of organizing the interviews took nearly nine months to coordinate.
In that nine months, the story at Adobe shifted dramatically, with a totally new product line and an emphasis on subscription-based software. With all that in mind, I took a trip to Adobe’s headquarters in San Jose as well as their beautiful San Francisco office to get a different perspective than we normally see. I wanted to see faces and personalities instead of just names. I wanted to meet the people and hear how they produce software that is undoubtedly, no matter if you approve of their pay policies or love their new system, the best suite of digital production programs on the market. I wanted to give Adobe the chance to tell their story through the great minds they employ. How, I asked, are they capable of continually producing software that pushes the envelope and expand what we as creatives have come to expect from our post-production tools?
The answer is not a straightforward one. It’s not a highway, but a city block. There are testers and prototypes always in flux. The plan for the next release is already in motion by the time the most current release is available to consumers. But it is not just testing and discussion, but more importantly the environment that Adobe fosters.
Question everything. Fear nothing. You cannot grow by second guessing intuition.
Jeff Chien, the man behind the hugely popular Healing Brush tool as well as the newly released Camera Shake Reduction, decides his own workflow. He works with highly intelligent people to determine where they can tear down the next “it’s impossible” wall. It’s this freedom to work on the tasks that interest him that lead to the greatest enhancements to the software. Creative freedom abounds.
“You have to believe it is possible,” he says. “Many people don’t believe it is possible. I believe it is possible.” This is the mentally Jeff takes every day, no matter what is presented to him. To say he thinks outside the box would be to place him into too confining of a cliché. What Jeff does, and what the entire team at Adobe seems to do, is open themselves to what most engineering organizations don’t care about: aesthetics. It’s a business that makes software, but it’s made up of artists. The reason Adobe can succeed at what they do is because they continually seek creative minds. They don’t guess what creatives want in their high performance software, they know because the company is made of them and built on their shoulders.
Whether or not you agree with their policies, Adobe has done something at their core that I think can be appreciated by everyone: they refused to sit on their laurels. Sure, years ago they were number one at the top of the industry. They could have slowed down, they could have gotten comfortable, but they didn’t. Rather than stand at the top of that mountain and enjoy the view, they continued on to the next mountain in the distance, encouraged by their past success only because it proved what was possible and what they could achieve. Instead of excitement at what was done, they asked themselves, “why shouldn’t we go for even more?”
At the end of this project, the thought I am left with is “believe the impossible.” Don’t believe anyone who says it can’t be done. Today’s impossible is tomorrow’s extraordinary.
Shot and Edited by Jaron Schneider
Rebecca Britt and Pratik Naik
The Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and PR Teams