The Integrated Photographer

When the camera merged with the computer to give us digital photography, the skills to be a successful photographer changed dramatically. Prior to digital photography, the professional photographer only had to know how to use a camera.

Almost everyone who was working prior to the computer becoming commonplace has experienced this phenomenon. The computer was integrated into many people’s jobs. Everyone has had to learn how to do word processing and e-mail. Using the computer to maximize your efficiency for work depended on your comfort level with computers.

There were those who didn’t handle this transition well. They always had to ask the office’s resident “computer guy” to help them with everything — mail merge, printing envelopes, attaching documents to e-mails, and so on. Because they didn’t learn, they became less valuable employees, while the computer guy became more valuable.

In 1990, the publication industry took a big hit. I was laid off due to the recession. Many of my friends also lost their jobs since newspapers were dropping like flies; many two-newspaper towns lost one of their publications.

Fortunately for me, I had computer skills to fall back on. These skills helped me to sell computer systems to corporations in Long Island for Tandy Corporation. I used my knowledge to help design networks for clients, and to create databases for mass marketing. I enjoyed the photography forums on CompuServe long before 1993, when the World Wide Web was created. I took a class at Georgia Tech on designing Web sites and created my own Web site back in 1995.

In the early 90’s I was scanning transparencies and film to digitize photos for publication. Once the digital camera surpassed the quality from this process, it was easy for me to make the transition. Today I speak to my peers at conferences and workshops as an expert on digital photography and on how to use the computer to run their businesses.

Ever since I moved from a staff position to a full-time freelancer, I have watched my business average 20 percent annual growth. Many of my friends have been losing their businesses and staff positions during this time. I’ve come to realize that the greatest single factor in my success is the knowledge of computers as it relates to photography. Those who have failed have generally not kept up with technical developments.

The successful photographer today is the integrated photographer. In technology, “integrated” refers to two or more components being merged together into a single system. The integrated photographer is the professional who has merged mastery of the camera with mastery of the computer.

[tags]photography advice, Stanley Leary [/tags]

2 Responses to “The Integrated Photographer”

  1. Indeed Stanley, technology has permeated every aspect of modern first-world society, providing both challenges and incalculable benefits.

    Now technology is becoming more transparent as we focus less on the computer but more on the task itself.

    People often ask me how I stand using a computer so much. I tell them I'm not "using a computer", I'm preparing photos, writing articles, blogging, corresponding with friends and family, learning new things, managing my finances and occasionally playing with Facebook. I don't focus any more on the computer I'm using to do these things than the chair I'm sitting on - it's just a tool.

    So while I too have benefited from a career in technology at an ideal time in history, I see a future where 'computing skills' are no longer needed by every professional to do their job. Computers have the potential to provide the same benefits in efficiency and effectiveness without requiring the workforce to be re-educated in order to use them.

    I'm also excited to see what developments this will bring for photographers.

  2. I believe it is the lack of knowledge with the camera and/or computer that is the problem.

    Too many iGeneration photographers rely on PhotoShop to correct the problems with their images. In addition, there are many photographers while can capture a good image have trouble getting it from their camera to the client with the correct color space for example.

    Even in the future it will always be the advantage to the one who understands what is going on with the images throughout the process who is able to manage it and change it to improve the outcome for the client.

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