A Passion for Photography

February 26, 2014


For Winston Hendrickson, Adobe’s vice president of Imaging Design & Web, the line between career and hobby is blurred.

Winston Hendrickson tells the story of a night when he was photographing a high school football championship many years ago. Someone asked if he was with the press, and he said no. The man asked if Winston was with the school. Again, he said no. So the man asked if one of Winston’s kids was playing. Again, no. “So, why are you here?” the man asked.

“I hadn’t really reflected on it before,” Winston said, describing that moment. “I had just fallen in love with sports photography—especially football. I was just doing what I loved.”

That passion for photography is closely tied to Winston’s career at Adobe. As vice president, Imaging, Design and Web, he is in charge of product development for most of Adobe’s media creation products. Winston joined Adobe in December 2000, excited at the opportunity to work at the company responsible for all the great creative tools he had come to love as a creative.

Adobe Life spoke to Winston recently about his life in photography.

Michael Crabtree, American football wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers.
Michael Crabtree, American football wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers.

AL: Tell us about your background in photography—and how that has led to your current work.

Winston: Digital cameras and my kids playing sports are what led me to this passion. I remember the feeling I had the first time I froze the action of a pitcher—and I haven’t looked back. I’ve photographed my kids playing sports all the way up through my daughter playing NCAA collegiate softball.

In 2007, I began doing a lot of landscape and portrait, too. These days, I take a couple of annual trips with professional photographers; we look for various landscape and wildlife photography opportunities up and down the California coast.

For me, photography is somewhere in between a hobby and a profession; I pursue it out of a passion rather than for a salary. These days, I focus on action and landscape photography.

AL: How does Adobe support your photography work?

Winston: First, I work on a team that really celebrates digital media creation. We have all kinds of artists on the team, and when you’re surrounded by this level of talent and this passion for building great tools for our customers, it raises the bar. We’re all driven to achieve our best.

Also, I have great tools at my disposal—from Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to the team’s camera lab, which lets us borrow cameras. And of course, any time I travel for Adobe is a chance to capture new shots.

Working at Adobe also affords me the ability to meet some of the world’s best photographers. For example, at Photoshop World, I had a chance to talk with Dave Black, one of the best sports photographers in the world, and I’ve spent time traveling with Darran Leal and National Geographic photographer Bruce Dale.

Going after the evening waves, Huntington Beach, California
Going after the evening waves, Huntington Beach, California

AL: What is most enjoyable to you about this work?

Winston: It’s a form of nonlethal hunting. There’s something about going on the hunt for a photo; it’s such a rush when you know you’ve created something from a unique perspective. I feel very tense until I get the first publish-worthy shot; after that, I relax and enjoy myself more.

I keep all my shots (anything that’s not obviously broken), and I revisit them from time to time. Often I find an image I didn’t think much of at first—but with a fresh eye, I can bring out some special aspect of it.

Overall, it’s the joy of creation that fuels my work.

AL: Pick a favorite photo and describe why you like it so much.

Winston: One that stands out in my mind, and received some really positive comments, is one of Michael Crabtree, wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers. (See photo at top.) He’s lying on the ground looking up at the Jumbotron, and you see the “yeah I did it” look on his face as he realizes that he just got the first down.

This is a little unusual for a sports photo because it’s the player’s reaction rather than a high-action shot.

I always strive to see if you can capture the essence of the moment, and I think this one succeeds at that.

I had the opportunity to shoot a couple of games for the Atlanta Falcons thanks to an introduction by Scott Kelby.

Awakened at dusk, Okavango Delta, Botswana
Awakened at dusk, Okavango Delta, Botswana

AL: What’s next? Do you have other ambitions, plans for your photography—or any other creative endeavors?

Winston: I always pursue shooting new action all the time. “I’ve done various recreational sports (e.g., basketball, soccer, hockey)—basically any competition involving fast-moving objects. Motorcycle and car racing appeal to me because that’s a whole different dynamic. And of course I’ve told the Falcons (professional football team) that I’d be happy to shoot for them again next year!

View more of Winston’s photography: