Viva la Revolución!*

Started 1 month ago | Discussions thread
ForumParentFirstPrevious
Flat view
phedge Regular Member • Posts: 165
Viva la Revolución!*
10

*or What did you do in the war daddy?

(At a time when the thread “Are photographers killing the camera industry?” is posted seriously, a little history.)

I’m guessing there are a few here who were working in the photographic industry during the digital revolution. Roughly the decade from around 1991 and the first Leaf DCB to roughly 2001 and the intro of the Nikon D1x. Almost 20 years later, digital is now so ubiquitous that we argue over the death of the camera itself. But in 1991 we were staggering through the mustard gas of the first battles in the war over our profession.

Seismic change was coming and everyone had to decide whether they would join or resist. Many talented photographers, artists, art directors and trades people either wouldn’t or couldn’t embrace the new technology and were quickly left behind. Film processing labs and 4C pre-press shops went from money printing gold mines to scrambling on the edge of solvency to closing their doors in that short time frame. Super talented retouchers who worked directly on 4x5 transparency became obsolete while 4 color separators creating printing plates went from extremely highly paid craftsmen to unemployable.

Things were weird, terrifying and thrilling. Nobody knew where this was headed and you either got annihilated or rewarded. Our studio was quick to embrace the new technology and we profited pretty well during that time. We mostly shot in the dark, made mistakes, learned ferociously, forged critical alliances and kept moving forward. We hosted digital forums at our studio and managed to micturate off quite a few of our brethren. At the end of one of our more contentious meetings an attendee pulled me aside, frowned, gestured out to the studio and said “Most revolutionaries fail and wind up dead and buried.” To which I replied, smiling “Everyone remembers Jesus.” He walked away shaking his head and muttering. That was the strength of feeling and emotion that hung over our industry.

I loved those days, but we did put up with some wacky, self-serving notions. Many clients initially refused to accept a digital file as a final image. Their production people had been poisoned by printing salesman who declared digital photography “awful at color.” So for those clients our workflow went like this: Shoot 4x5 transparency, process 4x5 transparency, scan 4x5 transparency, retouch digital file, output new 4x5 transparency from digital file, then once again this new transparency was scanned back into the workflow. We got to the point we could do all those steps except output the new transparency. That was gravy.

So, how did any here who were making their livelihoods at that time weather the revolution? Any good stories, observations or just plain old reminiscences to hand to these young’uns who never experienced the joys of film holders loaded backwards, exploding polaroid, depleted E-6 or the fragrant wafting of selenium into their cranial cavity? Yes, the good old days!

phedge

Nikon D1X
If you believe there are incorrect tags, please send us this post using our feedback form.
ForumParentFirstPrevious
Flat view
ForumParentFirstPrevious
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow