INTERVIEW With Tom Hogarty, Photoshop Lightroom Product Manager

I had the opportunity to talk with Tom Hogarty, Lightroom’s product manager, about the Lightroom application, its creation, and his two favorite tips (among other things).

lightroom box

Here’s the results of my Q&A:

JS: I find it odd that Lightroom is not available in any CS3 suite, even though it certainly is an app for creative pros and many CS3 users will want it. I was talking with John Nack and he said “to some extent [Lightroom is] meant to serve people who are put off by the sheer size and complexity of Photoshop.” However, Lightroom is not really a Photoshop replacement. My question is, how exactly does Lightroom fit into the Photoshop family and the CS3 family, and do you expect it to be included with any CS3 suite in the future?

TH: Lightroom is designed to work with Photoshop, the industry standard in photo-editing software. Changes made in one application are reflected in the other. And no, there are no plans now to include PS LR in the CS suites. It’s designed to be a stand-alone product. More info on how PS and PS LR work together can be found here.

JS: What is the ideal user for Lightroom—who did Adobe design this product for? Is this an app for pro photographers, prosumers and amateurs, or all of the above?

TH: Adobe created Photoshop Lightroom for professional photographers working with large volumes of images. But any level of photographer can work with and benefit from the digital workflow tools.

JS: When Lightroom was announced, some saw it as something of a reaction to Apple’s release of Aperture. Was Lightroom being developed well before Aperture’s release, and was Adobe playing some catch-up or did it have Lightroom in mind before Aperture came onto the radar?

hogartyTom Hogarty, Lightroom’s product manager.

TH: Photoshop Lightroom had been underdevelopment for several years (as codename Shadowland). It was a pet and side project of some of the main creators of Photoshop. It was started out of the direct need for a better digital workflow tool. Photographers were using three or more products to get through their whole workflow. Photoshop Lightroom was released into public beta as a way for the users of the tool (pro photographers) to have direct impact on its creation and final tool set. Adobe did not set a release date until the main feature requests were incorporated—which wound up being Jan. 29 this year.

JS: Lightroom’s interface, with its dark colors and large panels, is different from any other Adobe application—which is notable given that Adobe’s interface design is both well-regarded and consistent across products? What is the rationale behind Lightroom’s unique interface design?

TH: Lightroom has been designed from the ground up to provide a targeted solution for photographers. With that specific goal in mind Lightroom’s interface and user experience team was able to customize the experience specifically for the workflow and aesthetic of the photographic community. Input from photographers led to an interface that places the photography as the center of attention while the application is able to recede into the background when necessary.

JS: Lightroom has a lot of little features that you won’t find in any other Adobe application. What are two hidden tips that you think are cool but are not well-known yet?

TH: The Targeted Adjustment Tool in the develop module has a small icon in the Tone Curve and HSL panels yet is arguably one of the most innovative features in Lightroom 1.0. It allows the photographer to adjust the tone curve, grayscale conversions and other parameters using the image itself to guide the image. For example, a photographer can click on the image and drag to adjust that portion of the tone curve.
The Pick and Reject selection system is also a very streamlined way to refine a set of images from thousands to just the images you need. Using the Loupe view in the Library module a photographer can move from image to image and choose the command(ctrl) up or command(ctrl) down arrow to define an image as a “Pick” or a “Reject.” Selecting Shift-Tab will hide the rest of the interface and let the photographer focus on the task at hand while reviewing the images quickly and efficiently.

JS: Photoshop’s Camera Raw dialog box, even in CS3, feels a lot different than Lightroom’s Develop module. Do you think there will be some convergence eventually?

TH: The Camera Raw 4.0 dialog in Photoshop CS3 is clearly an evolution on the interface provided in previous versions. While the functionality and controls have been updated to provide compatibility with Lightroom’s Develop module settings, it also provides an intuitive upgrade experience for those familiar with the previous Camera Raw dialog.