For Marina Williams, creativity is a community passion

Image of Marina Williams.

There are two versions of Marina Williams. Marina Williams the successful photographer, who helps major brands like Adobe, Canon, and Disney+ bring their campaigns to life with her fun, colorful imagery. And Marina Williams the educator, whose social posts, workshops, and in-person retreats help beginner photographers learn their craft and turn their passion into a viable business of their own.

As a self-taught artist and entrepreneur, Williams knows how daunting it can feel to make the move from amateur to professional creator. With resources like Adobe Firefly, Adobe’s family of creative generative AI models, making her field more accessible and democratic, she is on a mission to inspire as many people as possible to share her passion.

“I want to give photographers who feel stuck or lost in their journey the support they need to get over the hump, whether it’s wrapping their head around new editing software or tips on how to build their business,” says Williams. “Each time Adobe releases a new Photoshop or Firefly update, I immediately break it down for my followers so they can take advantage.”

A spark in the twilight

Williams was introduced to photography as a young girl by her grandfather, who also gifted her his collection of cameras. By middle school, she had saved up for a point and shoot digital camera and begun experimenting with Adobe Photoshop. “The first time I used Photoshop was to edit myself into a photo of Edward from “Twilight”. You could say that was the spark that started it all,” she recalls with a smile.

By high school, Williams had started using a DSLR camera. She also explored other artistic mediums at that time, including sewing and fashion, going on to graduate from Florida State University with a degree in studio art. But when she found herself shooting and selling cap and gown photos of other students on graduation day, she knew photography was the key to her creative and professional fulfillment.

Flipping the lens inwards with Adobe Firefly

The “ah ha” moment for Williams came when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing her to stay home from her in-house photography gig and work remotely. Desperate to flex her creative muscle, Williams began to experiment with self-portraits and dive deeper into the nuances of lighting, orientation, and all the other details that turn raw photos into inspiring images.

That passion only grew with time, and with the release of Firefly features in Photoshop in 2023, Williams has pushed herself creatively like never before. Today, Williams begins by bringing all the images from her shoots into Adobe Lightroom for editing, coloring, and matching. From there, she adds new dimensions to each shot with the Adobe Firefly-powered features of Photoshop.

For instance, Williams uses Generative Fill to edit distracting elements like flyaways from client portraits. “Adobe Firefly doesn’t just make me bolder in my concepts, it makes my process more organic. I used to stop photoshoots to make adjustments or add props to a scene, but now I can just go with the flow and make those changes after the fact,” she explains.

Williams also uses Generative Fill to add new elements to her photos without needing to painstakingly blend and touch them up one at a time. Take the playful self-portrait below, which originally showed Williams holding three limes on top of her head. Using Generative Fill, she pushed the theme even further by filling the entire shot with limes and giving it a fun, surreal quality.

Original image; Marina Williams.

Original image; image source: Marina Williams.

Original image; Marina Williams.

Image edited using Adobe Firefly-powered Generative Fill feature in Adobe Photoshop. Image source: Marina Williams.

Crucially for Williams, generative AI allows her to extend the boundaries of her images. She does most of her shoots in her backyard shed/studio, which limits the scale of image and background she can capture. With Generative Fill, Williams can expand her backgrounds and create environments that feel unbound by physical space, while still feeling natural and intentional.

Where play meets authenticity

While Williams hears and respects the uncertainty among some in the creative community in response to generative AI, she personally sees the technology as a source of endless play and creative opportunity.

“I don’t see generative AI stealing my job as a portrait photographer. I see it as a way to bring new life to my images,” she says. “I spend hours on end playing with Adobe Firefly, taking ideas from my imagination and making them real.”

Image source: Marina Williams.

Image source: Marina Williams.

Crucially for Williams, Firefly makes photography less intimidating. Not only does it make editing less complex, but it also accelerates the process by orders of magnitude, lowering a major barrier to entry for photographers and entrepreneurs who don’t have formal training with editing software. What’s more, the new Community tab in Firefly allows users to share their work, raise their profile as a creator, get inspired by fellow creators, and stay up to date on the latest features.

On the one-year anniversary of the release of Firefly, Williams celebrates its positive impact on her workflow with the following birthday message.

Williams is optimistic about the future of generative AI, but she also understands the responsibility that goes with promoting a new and transformative technology. So much so that she joined forces with Adobe on the Content Authenticity Initiative, which aims to establish an industry standard for content provenance in the age of AI.

“As someone who uses Adobe Firefly regularly, I feel a responsibility to disclose when I’ve created content with AI,” says Williams. “The technology is only going to get more powerful and pervasive, so it’s important that we set the right precedent as creators and use generative AI tools with integrity from day one.”

Learn more about Marina, her work, and her educational content on Instagram.

And click here to discover how Adobe Firefly can unlock new possibilities for your own creative journey.