Photoshop started its life as one of many image-editing programs that emerged through the 90s. Adobe certainly did something right because it ended up being the major player and the word ‘Photoshop’ has now developed an all new meaning.
Once just a piece of software, Photoshop has now become a household term for any form of image manipulation. It’s acquired the holy grail of brand recognition.
“JUST PHOTOSHOP IT”
We’re sure you’ve heard that a fair few times. In fact, you’ve probably even said it.
Before we continue, we’ll be referring to all forms of image manipulation and graphic design when discussing Photoshop – whether that’s Adobe Illustrator, PhotoDraw or even Microsoft Paint. Partly because it ties in nicely with our previous points and partly because we don’t want this article to be four thousand words long.
Photoshop has certainly solidified itself as a necessity for almost any business – whether in-house or by a third party in order to produce marketing and advertising content.
There are certainly a fair few Photoshop Wizards out there – producing images that appear to defy all possibility and seemingly without breaking a sweat. They enter the ‘headphones-on’ state of Zen and only emerge when someone tells them it’s finished (because it’s never going to be perfect).
However, this amount of trust in your appointed Photoshop expert can cause problems if you don’t have an understanding of the process yourself.
IT’S ALL ABOUT EXPERIENCE
As with anything, you can’t truly understand something until you’ve actually done it. You can theoretically learn to drive a car but it’s not the same as driving a car. You can learn to swim by watching a video but it probably won’t be the same when you get in the water.
The danger is that you could develop unrealistic expectations of what is achievable and in a given timeframe. This doesn’t just cause a headache for the designer; it can cause a headache for everyone.
As much as we like to think that Photoshop Wizards exist – they don’t. It’s not magic; it takes quite a significant amount of training, time and energy. It also requires an effective brief or a lot of creative freedom. Some things simply can’t be fixed and definitely not quickly.
PHOTOSHOP SHOULD BE PLAN Z
One thing that everyone must remember is that Photoshop should always be considered a worst-case-scenario option. It’s so important to just get it right in the first place.
If you’re having products photographed for your latest brochure – make sure they’re new, clean and free of blemishes. If you’re having professional headshots done – make sure you’ve shaved, had a haircut or worn the correct coloured tie. If you have a photographer at your premises for new banner images – make sure you’ve tidied up.
To a photographer, this probably seems obvious. They are more aware of the limitations of what is achievable in post-production and subsequently aim to get it right before even digging the camera out.
The exact same goes for developing promotional material. If you’re demanding that a designer fits three thousand words of copy onto an exhibition stand, you probably need to stop and think about what you’re trying to achieve and with what resources.
SOMETIMES, YOU DON’T KNOW BEST
You might want all three thousand words to fit on the exhibition stand but that’s probably not the place for them. Why not develop a whitepaper and hand that out alongside your stand?
This is how a basic understanding of the processes involved with design and image manipulation go a long way. As clichéd as it sounds – knowledge really is power. When you understand all parts of the process, even just at a top level, you open yourself up to developing far more effective strategies and setting more realistic expectations for everyone – including yourself.
It doesn’t take a huge amount of investment to pick up some basic knowledge. Sit down with one of your team and ask them to explain as they go. It’s more about understanding the process and challenges than the actual ‘doing.’ If you work with an external resource – I’m sure they wouldn’t mind you sitting with them for half an hour as they work on your project.
At the end of the day – your increased understanding of the process will only make their job easier.
Hopefully this knowledge will give you a better idea of the types of considerations you need to address before creating a brief for your team or a third party service provider. Your expectations will be more realistic and you’re likely to become a more effective marketer in the process!
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