Sara Stepherson makes the impossible possible with Adobe Firefly

Photograph of Sara Stepherson.

Sara Stepherson has an uncanny ability to bring her client’s dreams to life through her photography and photo editing. Her vision is at once simple and surreal, using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Express to capture momentous occasions in people’s lives and immortalize them through perfect memories they can treasure for years.

Among her many talents, Stepherson has made her name editing wedding photos. Not just chronicling the day in images but also adding in loved ones who couldn’t attend the wedding or removing guests from photos so the bride and groom can remember their favorite moments with an intimate shot of themselves as a couple.

Hear what Sara Stepherson and other creators have to say about how Adobe Firefly is changing the creative world.

What might sound simple on the surface, in practice is anything but. To add and remove people from images in a way that looks natural would be a time-consuming and often imperfect process without the help of generative AI. To that end, Stepherson is pioneering the use of Adobe Firefly, including the Generative Fill and Generative Expand features in Adobe Photoshop, to make the impossible possible. And scalable.

Photo of a Bride and Groom, image source Sara Stepherson.

Image before using Adobe Firefly, image source: Sara Stepherson

Photo of Groom and Father after using Adobe Firefly.

Image after using Adobe Firefly, image source: Sara Stepherson

“The work I do feels so special. People revisit their wedding memories throughout their lives, and being able to recreate those experiences the way they want to remember them is incredibly rewarding,” says Stepherson. “Some of their requests would have been non-starters a year ago, but with Adobe Firefly the impossible hasn’t just become possible, it’s become easy.”

A surreal rise powered by Adobe Firefly

Stepherson got her start in photo editing organically. Always a photography lover, she began experimenting with Adobe Photoshop to see how she could edit and add flourishes to images to make them feel more surreal. After posting her work online, Stepherson found herself fielding requests from friends and strangers alike who recognized her talents and were willing to pay for them.

But Sara’s Snapshots really took off as a business in May of 2023, when Adobe Firefly was released in beta. Stepherson always had a talent for creating new photos and editing objects out of existing images to clean them up for clients, but compositing was a whole different story.

The process of combining visual elements from different sources was not only time-consuming, it invariably yielded mixed results. With early access to Firefly, Stepherson immediately began experimenting to see how the technology could make compositing faster, easier, and less clunky. She even used the solution to composite her own wedding photos, adding more greenery and flowers to certain shots for added drama.

“Unless you find the perfect stock image to integrate with your original photo, your final composite is going to look messy. A fuzzy border here, a stretched limb there,” explains Stepherson. “Adobe Firefly instantly finds the best image for my compositing projects, which means I can bring my clients’ dreams to life in a way that looks realistic and natural while cutting hours from the process.”

Indeed, Sara’s Snapshots has tripled its revenue since Firefly was released and Stepherson’s popularity with clients continues to rise. What’s more, on top of helping more people with their photo editing needs she also has more time to focus on her own artwork.

“I love creating my own art as much as I love working, but until recently it was impossible to make time for both. Adobe Firefly changed the game completely for me! I’m delivering more client work than ever and creating and sharing more personal projects for the world to see,” says Stepherson.

Image of a girl surrounded by lit up lanterns.

Image before using Adobe Firefly, image source: Sara Stepherson

Image of a girl surrounded by lit up lanterns after using Adobe Firefly.

Image after using Adobe Firefly, image source: Sara Stepherson

Democratizing creativity for entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, Stepherson also appreciates Adobe Firefly’s ease of use. Thinking back to her first day using the technology, she recalls typing her first prompt, getting a set of suggested images in return, and thinking to herself, “It can’t be that easy, can it?”

The ability to jump right in with Firefly has unlocked new capabilities in Stepherson’s other go-to Adobe creative solution, Adobe Express. With access to countless design templates and AI-powered suggestions to help her narrow down the best options for her projects, she has been able to create a range of assets to promote her business, from logos to thumbnails for her website, with no marketing or graphic design training.

“Adobe Photoshop has always been an amazing piece of software, but it can feel daunting for young creatives getting started in their careers or entrepreneurs with no design background,” says Stepherson. “Firefly’s interface is intuitive for everyone, not just artists, and that makes creative content creation more accessible to more people.”

Original ideas still rule

As for worries that generative AI will remove inspiration and variability from the creative process, Stepherson believes those are overblown. Especially when one considers that the same image prompt entered into Adobe Firefly three separate times will return three different sets of suggestions. Combine that with the different ways people express themselves when writing prompts, and the possibilities become virtually endless.

Image of a girl holding a bag.

Image before using Adobe Firefly, image source: Sara Stepherson

Image of a girl holding a bag surrounded by colorful plants after using Adobe Firefly.

Image after using Adobe Firefly, image source: Sara Stepherson

That said, Stepherson does believe in the primacy of original ideas. “AI is a powerful tool, but unless you have your own style or vision of what you want to achieve, its potential is limited,” she says. “You don’t have to be an artist, but you do need unique thoughts to create something original.”

“The common wisdom is that you need to put in 10,000 hours to excel at your craft, but tools like Adobe Firefly are bringing that figure down considerably,” she adds. “AI might sound scary to some, but in my experience, it can make you work faster while also making you a better artist, and I look forward to seeing what else it can do.”

To learn more about Sara Stepherson and Sara’s Snapshots, visit her Instagram.