Hook, Line and Software

When photographers shot film (and computers filled entire rooms) pros and amateurs alike had to wait to see the results. In the field they used pre-paid mailers to send exposed rolls for processing. Polaroid films provided the only instant feedback. Everyone had a lightbox and usually a slide projector to help winnow out the keepers from a shoot. A photo shop was where you bought your gear, and chimping only happened in the movies (see Cheeta).

That’s all changed, of course, and there’s no going back.

If you want to see your photos today you have to turn on a computer.

And to make those pictures match reality or other expectations…requires software. To retouch. To crop. To correct colors. To reduce noise. To sort and archive. To print.

Scientists tell us our universe is expanding, and I think I know why: it is to make room for the infinite number of instruction manuals, disks and related debris associated with the programs we use to transform our pictures. They have to go somewhere.

And in the parallel universe of software there is a corresponding expansion: these are known as upgrades. Every six months or so what you use now that does everything you need is improved, and who can resist that? Marketers call themselves evangelists and preach from the new electronic pulpit, and theirs are seductive promises. “Easy to use – you can be a pro photographer in days!” Hallelujah!

Photographers manage digital photographs with a precision that can easily segue into an obsession. No pixel goes unnoticed at 100% magnification. Does that ability become a liability if more time is spent in front of a monitor than behind a lens? Whatever your answer to that question, remember that software isn’t inspiring: your subjects and their stories are.


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