Thursday, May 31, 2007
Vincent Laforet - Still A Photographer
Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Vincent Laforet takes advantage of anything he can to streamline his workflow and his access to a formidable archive
Vincent Laforet has worked his way toward becoming one of the world's premier digital photographers. In order to create such powerful imagery, Laforet utilizes the latest digital acquisition, editing, color-management, printing and storage tools available. And it's in Laforet's studio where art and technology fuse, allowing him to create the gripping images that his clients demand. In a smart, air-cooled, rolling glass case is Laforet's Xserve RAID, storing a lifetime's worth of images and serving as the foundation for his business. Its current storage capacity is 2.7 terabytes, which can be expanded up to 7. Says Laforet, "I expected to have plenty of room for years, but after only three months, I realized that I was going to need another one of these guys." He has additional nearline storage via two 1-terabyte and two 500-gigabyte LaCie FireWire drives. Possessing such a powerful data reservoir of his life's work is reassuring, but not easily affordable. "I'm happy to have it because it gives me a tremendous amount of stability," he says. "But I also realize when I speak to people and give lectures that it's not something everyone can afford, not only in terms of getting the unit, but managing and running it.
"The electrical bill alone has got to be $200 to $300 a month. These guys run 24/7." But it remains an investment that Laforet and other professionals have to make in order to survive and prosper in today's marketplace. "It's my business," he says. "It has allowed me to become absolutely self-sufficient. I have this and I use PhotoShelter, too. On the Xserve RAID, I have all of my everyday work, and all of my master portfolio images go out to PhotoShelter."
Workflow Laforet's acquisition tools are exclusively Canon: "Right now, it's the Canon 5D, 1DS and 1D Mark II N. I shoot RAW, no exception." Regardless of for whom he's shooting, Laforet always acquires images in Camera Raw, not RAW + JPEG, because of the way he integrates Apple Aperture into his workflow. "It would just be a waste of time," he says. "My basic workflow is to shoot the highest quality you can. I then import my images into Aperture with an Automator plug-in."
That plug-in is an Aperture card importer that he had custom-designed by Apple. "Bill Franks and I were at Photokina with the main Automator guy from Apple," explains Laforet. "We told him we needed to be able to import multiple CompactFlash cards at once, with the dream being that we could insert eight cards into eight Lexar readers and walk away. And he designed it in a day."