Friday, June 06, 2008

Are You Exhilarated Or Depressed These Days...

...With the ongoing onslaught of digital equipment and software being introduced constantly? Sometimes it seems that with all the many, many solutions available, it's enough to drive one a little crazy - or is it? How should we handle it? How do we make the right decision? How can we get on top of it? How can we use it as rocket fuel for our business?

I remember back in the old days, you know like 7 years ago when we wedding and portrait guys and gals started migrating to digital making that scary leap across that deep dark crevasse to the promised digital land on the other side. Is it as good as film? What happens if I over expose the image? What in the world is RAW? It was quite the adventure. But, we all, or most, made the jump and just about all of us are happier for it. Now fast forward about 5-6 years, look around, what's happening now? All the camera manufactures are running the same hot pixel race, software solutions - CS3, Lightroom, ProSelect, LumaPix, Windows Vista, Mac Leopard....... It sometimes boggles our minds just trying to keep up. Some people are taking a line out of the movie Network - "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more."

Well folks, at times it does look daunting. Sure there are a gazillion on-line tutorials out there showing us how to use all the software and the equipment, but who has time to watch and read it all? That kind of thinking, my dear friends, is what separates the wheat from the chaff. Simply said - "Knowledge is power."

Let's step back and look at the reality of the situation. We are so darn lucky to be working in the exciting and creative world of photography today. And, it's because of all the technology that's available to us. The cameras are exceptional, the software is unbelievably versatile in what it allows us to accomplish with our images. Never in the past have we had the potential to create more gorgeous, exciting, creative images than we do today.

That thought just hit me this week as I was working in Lightroom2 Beta and started reflecting on the functionality of not just Lightroom but so many other pieces of software we use in my studio. We are faster and more efficient and much more creative than we ever were before. And I have to say -it's a kick! Sure we have to learn and relearn the latest, greatest stuff as we ramp up sometimes fairly steep learning curves, but as we put forth that effort the return is an eye opening Wow!!! I didn't know I could do that!

As the learning curve starts to level out and more and more features, techniques,and solutions are within our grasp, and we finally realize - "How did we ever live without it?" Man, we used to tape negatives on crop cards, send them to the lab, and wait for the images to return about a week or two later. And, that was considered time saving technology! Now we can shoot it enhance it and print it all within hours maybe even minutes!

Yes folks, it is a kick - and we need to be fully learning and embracing the technologies in order to let our creativity soar. We have just instituted a new policy at my studio. Everybody has to take 1/2 hour everyday or at the minimum every other day to learn something new. That means pulling out one of the many instructional DVD's we have available, tuning into Kelby Training, or just experimenting in Photoshop to get a different result. And when one of us finds something beneficial to our operation, they then share it with the rest of the team. We are even in the process of setting up a Camtasia Studio, a screen capture software that lets you record all your keystrokes, for demoing a newly learned or mastered technique. You see Camtasia in use nearly every Tuesday on this blog.

The goal is to get all of us teaching each other, creating our own content for the studio's benefit as a whole. The cross training ramps each of our learning curves up a bit more quickly and also becomes the training resource for new team members. Sure, our whole "learning something new" is quite a lot different from most studios, but to me it's aways been about, "The Difference Makes The Difference."

It's time each and everyone of us went back to school and learn the most we can in our new digital age. Remember - knowledge is power - power for our creativity to soar beyond all of our previous expectations.

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