DPP Home Profiles Vincent Laforet - Still A Photographer

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

Laforet's workflow is nearly automated the moment he inserts his CF cards. "I have this setup where I put a CF card in and the Automator script launches," he says. "I can then load images or save them to templates. I even have the choice of importing the images directly into Aperture or importing them as reference files." The import process allows the photographer to include all of the ancillary metadata—photographer name, shoot date, location, etc. By being thorough and organized, a photographer can track every image from every shoot.

Without making such an effort, managing and searching for images becomes a nightmare. "You have to have discipline," Laforet says. "As you put the metadata in when you import in the first step, you've done 90 percent of your work. You just can't import files without anything else associated with them. This Automator plug-in copies the files over to my RAID or my internal hard drive, and then it imports them into an Aperture project as reference files. I can adjust the preferences in Aperture to create previews, adjust the size of the JPEG, as well as control the amount of compression."

Moving Data After A Shoot

One of Laforet's trademark styles has been to create images from inside a helicopter, which he did for last year's New York City Marathon for The New York Times. As soon as he's on the ground and on his way back to The Times, he starts downloading images. Says Laforet, "The lengthiest process for me is copying files off the CF cards. It's not uncommon for me to shoot 20 gigs in one hour of flight, which equates to roughly 2,000 RAW files. That's because when you're in a helicopter, you're flying at 100 mph or more. A lot of times, you can't see what you're shooting beneath." The New York Times prefers that its photographers shoot only JPEG, but Laforet shoots RAW and converts selects for The Times. The reason that he got around this requirement, Laforet says, "was because a lot of my prints started selling as archival prints for the newspaper, which is a huge business for them. Between the demands for quality and the demands of getting the image out on a deadline, you completely forget about the long-term value of the image. If you're shooting JPEG, you're kidding yourself."

Explains Laforet, "This is my body of work. They actually wanted me to shoot with the Canon EOS-1D Mark II N on medium and make medium-quality JPEGs as well as smaller versions. And I was like, Wait a minute. You're sending me all the way across the country to do sports, the World Series or whatever. Why would you want me to shoot an inferior-quality file, especially if the ‘picture of the year' is a really tight crop? You're not thinking long term. In reality, The Times commands a staff of 30 photographers shooting a few GBs a day, and that makes a huge difference if they're shooting JPEG."


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