Friday, June 8, 2007
Jeff Schewe - Absolute Total Control
Whether it's working up models and intricate rigging or building Photoshop files with seemingly endless numbers of layers, Jeff Schewe is serious about being in control
Jeff Schewe has forgotten more about Photoshop than I will ever know. He has been using it since before version 1, and has been an active consultant for Adobe since version 2.5 and an alpha tester for every version since 4.0. In that time, Schewe has done his best to help Adobe build a program that gives photographers the tools they need to achieve their vision.
Schewe came to the digital side of photography quite naturally. As he says, “I never do anything exactly the same way. I'm more than willing to do something I've never done before.” That spirit of experimentation has always driven him to try new gear when it has been appropriate to what he's trying to create.
Today, Schewe is just as comfortable shooting with a 4x5 view camera on sheets of film as he is with a Canon EOS D10 D-SLR (in fact, he has a compact digital point-and-shoot that he carries on various motorcycle trips around the country so he always has something handy for a unique moment). In addition to the EOS 10D and an EOS 1Ds, he uses medium-format camera backs from Imacon. Whether Schewe shoots on film or with a digital camera is determined by the needs for the work and the final output.
Although he has thoroughly embraced technology, he doesn't do it for technology's sake. For Schewe, using digital gear is a natural progression. He was educated at RIT, where he completely immersed himself in its de-manding photography program. One of the skills he learned there was the ability to work through any photographic problem using whatever tools were at his disposal. He was able to avoid the pitfall of learning a narrow repertoire of techniques and instead became the ultimate problem-solver.
Says Schewe, “In the grand scheme of things, you can't derive your usefulness based on your technique versus your viewpoint—viewpoint is what allows you to solve problems regardless of technique. A lot of people live or die by a standard technique. When that technique can't generate the needed results, they falter.”
For Schewe, Photoshop is the tool that has made the most dramatic change in his photography. “It's the biggest thing since color photography,” he says. “All the old rules are out the window. Traditional technique is very restrictive; besides, it's not nearly as fun.”
Although the old rules are out, Schewe is quick to emphasize the importance of mastering the craft of creating the original image. For example, the track star photograph is a very complex composite of several photos. The runner was shot in a studio with carefully crafted lighting to match the previously photographed track scene. If the two photos didn't match, the finished composite would have looked completely wrong. That's the importance of craft.