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 works in such a paradox, but he cautions, "People who are making the machines and getting the software and hardware ready are saying it's not over yet."
One would think that it's a concern over job security, but from Laforet's experience, he says, "It's less about job security as much as it is marketing. For example, we've reached the point right now where these Quad CPUs are as fast as they're going to get. They're going to do an eight-core soon with only a 30-percent increase and they're doubling the chips? That tells me they've maxed the amount of speed they're going to make those chips run." And until Apple or Intel creates new processing architectures that surpass what's in use today, photographers have a business to run and they have to use the best equipment available. Says Laforet, "Here, I have a $30,000 RAID and Xsan on a fiberoptic cable, and it still takes an eternity to copy over a large amount of data. Even if it doubled or tripled, it would still be really long."
As Blu-ray and HD-DVD enter the market as tools for long-term offline storage, that could prove beneficial to photographers with voluminous libraries. "So we'll be going from 4 GB a disk to 25," says Laforet. "Hopefully, it will get faster. I haven't seen the speeds on Blu-ray. I wonder how long it will take to write a Blu-ray disk and verify it—that will be interesting." Laforet has learned that it's not about the equipment getting faster, but how you develop and utilize it to fit your workflow.
"I don't see the answer to these problems as waiting for the technology to get faster," he adds. "I think the answer lies in your workflow and in maximizing what you do have in the most intelligent way. Instead of using Aperture to import your images one disk at a time, you can use this little Automator application and read eight disks at once. You organize everything in Aperture or some other piece of software that you want and have libraries, so you can have stuff that's online or offline. You can better manage your system. I do about 100 shoots a year. Let's say they're each 10 GB. That's one terabyte per year." Laforet continues, "You have to ask yourself if you need to keep that and keep buying storage. I'm not only buying an Xserve RAID here, it's also backed up to somewhere else and then online. Even if this is reasonably priced, you have to back it up two or three more times. You have to imagine the library better, you have to keyword stuff, you have to caption it." Ultimately, Vincent Laforet wants to be a photographer, not an image manager. His impressive array of computer gear and his workflow are designed to take advantage of everything technology has to offer to streamline his image management so he can spend his time making pictures. It's all about having the setup that can best serve his desire to do what he does best.
Laforet is a multifaceted photographer. He earned the Pulitzer Prize while working for The New York Times and remains a contributing photographer to many major publications, such as National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Stern and Paris Match, among others. He's as comfortable going into a ravaged New Orleans as he is covering the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. As a photojournalist, he's more apt to embrace the capture, delivery and organization advantages of a fully digital workflow as opposed to the ability to use Photoshop for massive image manipulation. He works with the latest computing systems from Apple—a Quad G5 tower, the new Mac Pro Quad Intel tower, and two 30-inch displays per workstation. When Laforet is on the road he can choose from among several 15-inch and two 17-inch MacBook Pros.
To see more of Vincent Laforet's photography, visit www.vincentlaforet.com.
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