I don’t know.

            The better question might be, “Isn’t Photoshop amazing?

            For its constituency it surely ranks with the greatest inventions of all time.  Like the cell phone and laptop, it has become so indispensible to me that I often question how I got along without it.  And to apply the ultimate praise, the concept of Photoshop is so obvious that it makes me wonder why I didn’t think of it first.

            This’s not to say the traditional darkroom is invalid or that I didn’t enjoy the countless hours I’ve spent toiling under the safelight.  But somewhere between the sentimental whiff of the chemical trays and the immediacy of the computer screen came a great revelation: Photoshop fulfills the purest aspiration of progress.  It allows us to accomplish a task more simply, efficiently and creatively.

            Any vestigial guilt I might once have harbored at this thought were dashed at a cocktail party a number of years ago in the Hollywood Hills.  Chatting with a legendary photographer whose career spanned six decades, his upbeat, progressive attitude toward Photoshop not only surprised me, it quashed any remaining doubt.  “It’s so much better than how we used to do in the darkroom.  Before, too often it was a struggle.  And there were too many variables.” 

            I leave this gentleman nameless because he continues to make a fine living producing prints from his negatives, some of which were exposed during the Eisenhower administration.  You’d instantly recognize his images; the subjects are glamorous and his workmanship impeccable.  And though no print leaves his studio today without some sort of contact with the electronic workflow, there’s no sense of loss for what has gone before.  “Now, if you can imagine it, you can realize it.  And that’s what we’ve always been after.”

            Every time I walk into a DI session I get a similar feeling: it’s like playing with Photoshop on steroids.  And it gets easier to let go of the past and embrace what’s new.

I’ll discuss the issue of wet prints vs. digital prints at another time.  Until then, I have a huge inventory of photographs that need to be developed – in my desktop work station.


One thought on “ISN’T PHOTOSHOP COOL?”

  1. I love your take on this Richard. I feel two ways about tools like this. Yes, it’s amazing! Holy cow yes! At the same time I love getting into what can be done with the analog versions of tools like Photoshop. Pulling them apart to see what else they can do and be is irresistible. One of my greatest mentors, artist John Jerard, once said to me “don’t just use the brushes you can buy at the store, go make your own.” That perspective drives me each day. I figure that’s part of how we got to Photoshop in the first place! I try to pass this “look behind the curtain” impulse onto the interns in our camera dept. here at FX WRX, to show them the hands-on components that have led to digital tool sets. It’s amazing what a fresh look at old tools can offer. That appreciation for process also makes me smile every time I am able to undo and edit in Photoshop!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *