Today, Aaron Nace continues his Compositing 101 course with more live photo shoots and editing sessions. Before he storme the studio, creativeLIVE had the opportunity to sit down with him and ask few questions about where he gets his inspriration, his thoughts on technology and his own education platform, Phlearn.

Just like his photographs, Aaron’s words are powerful. You can read the full exclusive interview below.

Q+A with Aaron Nace:

cL: Aaron, we know that you are pretty much a self-taught Photoshop expert. What are some of the best online tools for teaching yourself Photoshop?

A: I like to compare using photoshop to using a brush, paints, and a canvas. It really doesn’t take that much time to learn how to use the tools, but creating art can take a lifetime of learning.

cL: You could learn every feature Photoshop has to offer in less than a day. It is the application of those tools as well as a vision of what you want out of them that makes the difference.

A: In my opinion the best online tools for learning Photoshop are Phlearn, CreativeLIVE, Lynda, KelbyTraining and PhotoshopCAFE. Each of which teaches in a different style and I think different people will gravitate towards one or the other.

With Phlearn we focus not only on the tools Photoshop has to offer but also their application and way of seeing that will help you to improve your art.

cL: You have often spoken about using photography as a vehicle to help make the world a better place. Can you explain your mission or what that means exactly?

A: When I was young I knew that I wanted to be an artist. I spent all of my time drawing and building and dreaming. When I was around 11 years old others led me to believe that I would never make a living as an artist and that it was pointless to pursue my art.

School taught me to value things like science, math and grammar. Society taught me that successful people are doctors and lawyers not sculptors and painters.

It wasn’t until later in life that I realized that I am a person who needs to create. I quit my corporate job and started from nothing to pursue art. Many people are just like me, but will never make that change. They will work most of their life doing something they don’t love for someone else.

Everywhere I look young people are abandoning creativity and conforming to an ideal that doesn’t work for them. The lack of creativity influences everything we do as a society, from how we solve problems to the art and entertainment that is produced. I don’t want to live in a world where the only movies we see in theaters are sequels or remakes. I don’t want to live in a world where lawmakers are incapable of “thinking outside of the box.” Where has the originality gone?

I don’t feel that photography is the vehicle to make the world a better place. I do hope to provide a beacon which people can look to and believe that art still has value in this world. I want 14 year old children and their parents to understand the value and application of art.

I want to help people to understand that spending your life doing what you love isn’t a wasted life. Above all I believe that money will always come to those following their heart.

cL: Who are some of the photographers (and maybe Photobloggers) who inspire you the most? And since you are teaching Compositing 101, how about some photographers who do a great job compositing?

A: I feel that my inspiration constantly changes. One day I will see the work of a photojournalist and want to bring meaning to my work through truth. The next day I will watch a movie like Avatar and want to abandon truth in favor of a dream world.

There are some very talented people out there compositing images together to make art. Years ago I looked up to artists such as Dave Hill who creates hyper-real stylized composites. These days I am more drawn to subtlety and the work of Erik Almas, Andric, and Chris Crisman. This is not to say that some are better than others, it is all about what speaks to you at that time in your life.

cL: With the technology we have nowadays, where can we draw the line between editor and photographer?

A: There are many people who make a great living retouching images that they have not photographed, and a lot of those people don’t take photos at all. These are the people who are behind the scenes and don’t get the credit they deserve. These are the editors.

As far as the people taking images I feel like there is no line. I don’t know of a single professional photographer that does not enhance their images through post production. At least half of the photographers I know are being asked to shoot video by clients, and that number is growing.

In some applications of photography such as commercial photography, the photographer is just a small piece of a larger puzzle needed to create an image. For some fine art photographers, they are the only piece of the puzzle.

Maybe we don’t need to draw a line. A camera, light meter, lights, gels, tripods, memory cards, computers, Lightroom, Photoshop, FTP, websites, social media, email, and smart phones are all just tools that a modern photographer uses to do their job. Each person uses a different combination of a large list of tools to get a different result.

In the end we are all just people trying to make something that will outlive us.