DPP Home Profiles Michel Tcherevkoff - The Image Maker

Friday, June 8, 2007

Michel Tcherevkoff - The Image Maker

Michel Tcherevkoff's process of creation takes his imagination in new directions as he embraces digital technology

Digital And The Creative Process

I had been working as a commercial photographer for more than 20 years when digital came along. My time spent with film was fruitful, and having a wild idea was easy, but with digital, things became interesting. Before I adopted digital technology into my studio, I had to edit my thought process, often eliminating good ideas that would have cost too much money or too much time. Working in film was naturally restrictive to my creativity because of the turnaround time for getting film processed and then making changes based upon the results. I could get a whole shot set up, test with Polaroids and then fire off the exposures, but I had to wait hours to get the transparencies back. The cost in time, film and processing quickly added up, and I found the delays weren't conducive to creative thought.

Digital makes the technical process easier and faster, and the creative process limitless. Now, I see within seconds or minutes—if I decide to make a print on the inkjet in my studio—whether the concept actually works. Also, I can follow through on new ideas as they come to me and see immediately if they're good ideas or if I'm barking up the wrong tree. I can do almost anything without compromise.

I had to learn to surrender to the digital process. Once I trusted the technology to work, I was free to be instinctive, to work without considering technique. I change ISO on the fly, experimenting with the effects of noise that come with setting a higher ISO. Shooting with Canon EOS digital cameras, I preview images instantly on the LCD. Although the LCD is small, it still shows me if the shot is working. If it doesn't look good on that LCD, it's probably not going to get much better by making a banner and flying it over Times Square.

Since I've incorporated the Canon EOS-1Ds into my digital process, life on set is simpler and faster. I can shoot and immediately edit through the back LCD screen or on my tethered laptop without waiting. Once the CompactFlash card is filled, I download to my hard drive and open the files through the Adobe RAW Photoshop plug-in. The camera makes a huge difference—it simplifies the technical process of shooting and, thus, gives me more time to think creatively about the image. With the 11-megapixel RAW files, we can reproduce double-page ads, posters, etc.

Being free from the limitations of film, my concentration instead is focused on the concept, the client collaboration and the setup. Taking time to properly light and style the set means I can shoot quickly. I've heard of photographers who adopt a “shoot fast and fix it later in Photoshop” mentality, but that just doesn't work. Ultimately, you waste time and money, and the final product never looks right. There's logic, symmetry and harmony in a successful image. It's ironic that digital gives me the freedom to make that harmony my highest priority.


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