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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Kevin Gilbert - Reality Bytes

After a 20-plus-year career working in the news media, photojournalist Kevin Gilbert traded shooting the real West Wing for the one on TV

The Digital Road Map

Along with taking the pictures, Gilbert also gets immense joy from making his photographs better—and helping others to do the same. He says that when confronting a transition to the ever-changing world of digital photography, many pros often make the same mistakes.

Says Gilbert, “You could be a Pulitzer Prize winner nine times over and if you're just getting into digital, you're about as valuable to somebody as a digital photographer as your neighbor is. The biggest problems for pros? They run out and buy a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II and then realize their computer just can't keep up with the file sizes. They don't have hard drive space; they don't have big enough flash cards. It's great to go out and buy the newest camera, but if you don't have the entire system to back it up, it's not going to work.

“They also don't understand color management,” he continues, outlining the importance of every piece in the puzzle. “Even the most basic factors of color management—setting up your image-editing program, your printer outputs and profiling your camera—you can do all of those things, and if you do them, all of a sudden everything works.”

Says Gilbert, “My biggest pet peeve with our industry is that you've got great people teaching printing, great people teaching how to shoot pictures, great people teaching Photoshop, but we're the only ones saying, We'll teach you about the cameras, about Photoshop, and ingesting this and that—printing, outputting, archiving—we teach the whole ecosystem. We're the ecosystem evangelists.”

What Gilbert does seem to enjoy the most about his industry is the reinvigoration that has come from constant technological advancement. It's the creative inspiration that comes from a new way of shooting.

“Digital is so good in so many ways,” he says. “It has energized so many photographers and their careers. I see some of the great photographers of the generation ahead of me, these 60- and 70-year-old photographers—and I could have sworn that the last time I saw their pictures was 20 years ago—all of a sudden they now have National Geographic stories happening and they're doing exhibits. Why? It's all because of digital. It has totally energized generations of photographers again.”

Adds Gilbert, “Instant gratification leads to one critical factor that allows you to be creative. It's such a liberating force, that you can see what you just did and fix it—just by moving or changing a setting in the camera—that it allows you to be so creative. It just feeds your whole soul.”


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