DPP Home Profiles David Sacks - Creative Fusion

Thursday, June 14, 2007

David Sacks - Creative Fusion

David Sacks keeps his imagery fresh by seeking a balance between work that pays the bills and work that energizes the soul

Seeing Through The Eyes Of His Tools

While learning the art of photography, Sacks shot only with Tri-X 35mm film. These days, he's actively selling his film on eBay and most of his 35mm film camera equipment so that he can work exclusively in digital. The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II and Phase One P25 back (for his Contax 645 medium-format system) are the primary tools he uses to ply his trade. The Canon is a 17-megapixel system; the Phase One is a self-contained, 22-megapixel, full-frame medium-format 645 digital back.

The Canon system produces a 50 MB file once the RAW file is processed; the Phase One translates to a 127 MB file. Sacks shoots everything RAW because it affords him complete creative control, which JPEG can't provide.

Sacks acknowledges that there are many photographers who continue to shoot film, but for the nature of his still life and portraiture, bringing film into his workflow adds several extra steps—processing, scanning and toning—which hinder rather than help.

“When I shoot digital, I can produce and see the results in real time, which is beneficial to me and, most importantly, to my clients,” says Sacks. “I don't have the time to shoot film in order to maintain my production schedule. Furthermore, I find that the look of digital suits my style of shooting very well.”

Although he quickly adopted digital into his professional workflow, Sacks was slower to give up film for his personal work, but now his work has evolved to a point where he shoots exclusively digital.

“I really like the look I can get from digital files,” says Sacks, which is easy for him because he has grown comfortable with and knows how to optimally push the technology. “Digital images are radically different from film.”

For Sacks, it's simply a matter of seeing digital technology as another tool he can exploit to express his creative vision. “The more you use your tools, the more you can see the way ‘they see.'”

Until 2004, Sacks shot still life exclusively in 4x5 because that's what art directors wanted—4x5 chromes. Times are changing fast now, and as he began the transition to digital, Sacks bought a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II. The choice was dictated by the large file size, the full-frame image sensor and a shift by art directors, requiring high-res digital files instead of 4x5 transparencies. Sacks hadn't shot with a 35mm body in years so when he started with the Canon D-SLR, it was difficult getting reacquainted. He stuck with it because the speed of the Canon lenses was dramatically faster than the 4x5 lenses and those associated with medium-format systems.

“The Canon 85mm ƒ/1.2 is a brick of a lens and is slow-focusing, but at a speed of ƒ/1.2, it's well worth it,” says Sacks. He has been able to frame and make photographs that he couldn't create with his medium-format systems.

On The Job

After Sacks completes a photo shoot, he assigns projects to assistants who are responsible for a specific aspect of postproduction from start to finish. His studio manager, Steve Meyer, and first assistant, Jennifer Barrese, are highly skilled in Photoshop and he relies on them for a lot—downloading and organizing images, enhancing selects, printing, and archiving and storage.


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