Tips for using InDesign and Photoshop at work: Michael Goldrei interview

Ahead of the upcoming training courses InDesign and Photoshop for publishers, BookMachine are running a series of interviews with industry professionals to understand how they use the tools at work. The following interview by Katie Dodson is with Michael Goldrei, graphic designer, photographer & illustrator who works for Macmillan Education as a Managing Designer.

1) How frequently do you use Photoshop/InDesign and when did you start using it regularly?

I use both every day a small amount for my day job (as I’m largely managing other designers who are working using these), but 7 days a week for Photoshop when I’m at home editing my street photography. I first started using Photoshop back in 2001 when I worked as a designer for PlayStation games, and was required to create most of my textures from scratch using its tools rather than from photos (which would have been far easier, but it did mean I got to know it pretty well!).

2) What methods do you use to keep updated and improve on your skills?

When I first started using both bits of software, it was a combination of working with others who gave me tips, and doing a lot of Googling. Training sessions would have been more than welcome, but I was never offered these when I started out! Nowadays, I ask the occasional question to a colleague if I can’t figure out how to do something, but it’s still mainly Googling.

3) Would you mind sharing a top trick with us?

Possibly not that exciting, but create keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop for your most commonly-used tasks, so that using it feels more like playing the piano. I have the F keys set for things such as: cropping, flipping horizontally & vertically, and adjusting brightness & contrast. Keep these shortcut files on the cloud/on a memory stick in case you ever need to use someone else’s computer, as being without them soon becomes unbearable. I’ve been using the same shortcuts for 16 years, and still have them as Actions (as I don’t think Photoshop had an official Keyboard Shortcuts option in the old days).

4) Could you please share a couple of links to your work?

The work I’m most proud of is my street photography:
My series, ‘Hands Down’, of portraits of interest people’s hands (including John Waters, Derren Brown and Professor Green):
The Dark Green Line – my series on the staff and patients of Moorfields Eye Hospital (which was then featured on the BBC News homepage):
And I used to do bits of illustration, which I’d draw by hand, scan, then colour using Photoshop:

5) What advice would you give to anyone wanting to improve how they use Photoshop/ InDesign?

Nothing beats having a real-life project to apply your skills to (otherwise taking a course and then not using the software means you’ll inevitably forget what you’ve learnt). If you’re lucky, you already have a project that someone’s given you. If not, just set yourself one that you think you’ll enjoy working on for your own benefit. I often do the latter with my photography (e.g. my Hands Down project) and find that the most difficult hurdle is taking the first shot in the series. Once you’ve made the first step, then the rest comes easy.

6) What do you use Photoshop/InDesign for mainly?

Photoshop for editing RAW photos, as well as creating quick mock-ups when I think it will help explain things to the designers I’m managing. InDesign for editing page layouts for books.

If you too would like to improve on how you use In Design/Photoshop at work, you can register on these courses by following the links below:
InDesign: Photoshop:

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