First tell me a little bit about yourself. 

I’m currently a photographer/retoucher at Simone Associates Inc. ( in Lebanon, PA. I graduated from Full Sail University in 2008 with a Bachelors of Science for filmmaking. I received the Course Director’s Award for Photography, so I should have seen my career path coming. Photography and Photoshopping have been hobbies of mine since the beginning of high school, but I always thought I was going to make movies. Perhaps one day I’ll dive back into moving pictures, but for now my passion for photography hasn’t allowed me a lot of time for filmmaking. When I do have small bursts of free time, I mostly spend it with my beautiful fiancée. We are often doing such things as running, biking, cooking, eating delicious baked goods while watching seasons of our favorite TV shows, or perhaps a movie from my ridiculously large collection.

You recently won a Guru award and Best of Show… what was that like? 

The experience of winning a Guru was nothing short of spectacular! While Larry was announcing the finalists, it was just so exciting to hear my name and see my artwork up on the big screen. What an opportunity for exposure, win or lose! I was already so elated when my name was called as winner of the Photo Montage category, that when Larry called me back up for the Best of Show award, I thought my heart might explode! As a winner, you then spend the rest of the day like some sort of mini celebrity; so many nice, fun, and completely awesome people came up to congratulate me and talk art!!

What made you decide to enter? 

This was my first time attending Photoshop World and I was hoping to make a good impression, so I figured the best way to do so was to take on the Guru Awards! I’ve always been a very competitive person and feel that some of my best pieces have been the result of entering contests. I love any opportunity to have that driving force to better my creations. I really want to show my very best, so I put so much work into every last detail, especially in cases like this when it’s going to be judged head to head with thousands of other artists trying their very best! Plus, all of you Photoshop guys at Kelby Media were going to be seeing my work, so let’s just say I put in a LOT of hours before sending them off!

Tell me about the image. How and why you created it. What tools did you use? Photoshop, computer, etc…


I wanted to create a slightly older version of Alice in Wonderland with a bit of a post-apocalyptic twist. Rather than the lush greenery and crazy bright colors normally associated with Alice, I decided to use images of vast desert and moody clouds to grunge it up a bit. I created it using PS CS6 on my Mac desktop, and I couldn’t live without my Wacom tablet!!! Best tool ever.


For this image, I just hadn’t made anything in a while and was feeling the itch to make something new and interesting, so I called up some friends to come over to the studio and do a shoot. (This is my friend, Charlotte!) Last year I went to the Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach and took TONS of pictures of fish, knowing one day I would use them for something. I remembered my library of swimming critter images and came up with the idea of having this girl floating underwater and all these different types of fish coming to check her out, almost like she is some sort of mermaid-ish type human and all the fish are drawn to her.

Are there any special techniques you used in creating this image that our members might find interesting?


One of my favorite techniques is to mess around with the lighting of an image. In this piece I wanted the potion she is holding to be glowing, therefore becoming an extra light source. To really get that believability I strive for (even in a fantasy image), I hand-painted in shadows and highlights where they would fall, should the bottle actually be emitting light. To achieve this, I made a new layer above the girl and set the blending mode to “soft light”. Then (using my handy dandy tablet!) I started painting with a small soft brush, somewhere around 20% opacity, using the default white for highlights and default black for shadows. Oftentimes I’ll make another layer that is set to “overlay” in the layer styles, and continue with the same method. As with any image, you just have to mess around with things and see what looks best. To achieve the green glow, I made yet another new layer and set this one to the “color” layer style, and then I started painting in colors as I saw fit.

The first image is somewhere mid-process without the lighting changed. The second image shows my lighting layer over a flat grey, so you can see where they were painted. The last image is with the lighting adjustment, plus lots of other tweaking (obviously).




One thing I like to do in a lot of my pictures is to create depth using blur filters. I like to use the lens blur filter because it does a good job of replicating the blur a camera would produce. I used varying strengths of lens blur on the angelfish off to the right. This really makes the subject in the center look extra sharp! I used this same technique on the cards in the foreground of the Alice image.

Do you have any other images similar that you would be willing to show us as well? (send at least 3 but no more than 5)


Where would you like your work to take you in the future? Vocationally or Artistically.

Well at this point in my life I’ve already basically landed my dream job. I work at what I’m convinced is the best photography studio ever, anywhere, forever…the end. I have access to all of the most amazing equipment that one could ever hope to use. It would take me YEARS (a lot of them) to acquire it all myself, and not to mention I have access to a vast studio space. Also, I’m surrounded by like-minded artistic types who fuel my creativity. So I guess all I could hope for is to start getting paid for more projects like the images I create just for fun (all of the pictures shown here are personal projects). Whether that means selling giant prints or getting commissioned to create crazy exciting composites, I just want to be able to continue bringing the images in my head to life, and for people to see them!!!

Final comments?

I must close by thanking all of you fantastic people down at Kelby media and NAPP for allowing me this opportunity to get my art in front of more eyes – the eyes of my fellow worldwide Photoshop addicts, no less!!! Going to Photoshop World was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I met so many amazing and interesting people and made some great friends. What an inspiring, encouraging, and fun adventure it was; I just can’t wait to do it again!!

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