By guest blogger Michael Albany
As a professional photographer I am asked all the time about what camera, and occasionally what software, I use. Of course like any good tradesman that has the right tool for the job, a good photographer has good tools. I personally am a Nikon guy, but other cameras are good tools too. It is a matter of what works for the individual. Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus, Hasselblad, Mamiya, you name the professional camera body and you will find a professional using them.
In today’s digital age the computers we use are also important. Once upon a time in the early stages of personal computers if you were a creative of any kind you were using Apple computers. PC manufacturers soon found themselves losing market share. I am sure that behind some closed door somewhere deals were made to better the hardware to make them more friendly to the graphics programs out there because Windows versions always seemed to get released first. Over time the Windows operating system was made to be more adaptable to these lines of software. In those days I found myself using mostly PCs. Things change though and as of this writing I find myself migrating to Mac. At this in between time I am writing this article on a PC but just behind me are two brand new Macs begging for my attention. Again though, tools: it’s a matter of what works best for you. But what about the software?
Software is a bit different; there is one leader and all others follow. Corel Draw and others came out for the graphic designer; Picasa was developed for the average person. But if you ask a professional photographer what they uses to edit their images you are most likely to hear the word Photoshop. In fact recently the word “Photoshopped” was added to the dictionary, that is how much impact that this program has had on our business and our society.
I too am a Photoshop user. I also use Adobe’s Lightroom and a few plugins that give me a few extra functionalities. So why is Photoshop the tool for photographers? Perhaps it is because the program was designed to take the place of the darkroom that so many of use old-heads miss to this day. (Yes I do miss the smell of fixer on my hands, call me crazy.)
Photoshop has come a long way from its first version. Recently Adobe moved to the subscription model for its latest version of the Creative Suite, called CC or Creative Cloud. Many if not most of the photographers I know wanted to jump ship because they don’t like the limitations that CC puts on us. Previously we could skip a version and get by for an extra 18 months or so before we needed to upgrade. I do the same thing with my camera bodies. It allows me to save money and be more competitive in my local market.
If I jumped ship from Adobe where would I jump to? Sure Lightroom is still a standalone product and I use it as well. In fact I do probably 60% of my editing in Lightroom before I even open Photoshop but Lightroom alone isn’t enough to do what I want or need to do. Photoshop was designed around the darkroom. Many of the tools are named from processes I did before there was software and their function is to replace those tasks. Sure many tools have been added since but overall there is very little I do to an image that can’t be done in a dark room. Photoshop just does it a lot faster, and it does it well.
Others have tried to develop a program that will compete with the Photoshop/Lightroom sister ships but the combination of these two programs is seemingly unstoppable. Even innovations in the processing of images seem to come from plugins that are made specifically for Photoshop.
So what am I as a professional photographer supposed to do? If I jump ship am I going to drown in the waters of editing software that doesn’t quite do all I need it to do? Do I have to buy 3 programs to replace the one and hope they work with Lightroom? At what cost to my business both financially and in productivity? The chances are that I am going to bite the subscription bullet and get the latest version of Photoshop and tack Lightroom into the bill. There is no lifeboat to jump into; at least not one that doesn’t have holes in it.
I think the migration from PC to Mac is going to be easier than leaving the fleet of Adobe. They have me as a crew member until another navy can sink the flagship called Photoshop.
Michael Albany is a Portrait and Architectural from Philadelphia. You can read more of his articles on his website www.michaelalbany.com.