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THE PHOTOGRAPHER (Cont'd)

Francekevich has received over 50 advertising awards for his work and, for the past 25 years, has been sharing his considerable knowledge with students at New York's School of Visual Arts where he's an adjunct member of the faculty. He's also an active member of ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) having served for 20 years on its Joint Ethics Committee and also as a director on its National Board. This guy's no lightweight.

When digital imaging arrived, Francekevich embraced it eagerly. When assignments began to fall off because art directors were buying stock photography, he began shooting stock photos that he would conceive and hoped would sell. And in the end, a merger of the two proved to be just what he needed to advance his career even further.

In pre-digital imaging times, he was always executing his visual ideas in the darkroom through photographic montages that expressed creative themes. He'd lock himself into his darkroom at his Fifth Avenue studio and mentally prepare himself to spend days of total darkness executing an image, adding and subtracting elements, sending the 8 x 10 composite out to be processed, and then doing it all over again if it wasn't right. Dust, which showed up as black unretouchable spots, was his biggest enemy, necessitating many makeovers.

"With the computer, you see the effect you are trying for immediately and then decide if you want to keep it," says Francekevich. He explains further that this is far from a hit or miss process: "What always comes first, in my view of photography, is the concept or idea. How the idea is executed depends on the photographer's visual vocabulary." And his visual vocabulary is huge, as evidenced by the thousands of pictures he and his various Macs have produced- and which are selling well throughout the world through his agency The Stock Market.

He recalls that it was frustrating at first: "For awhile I produced images both ways- computer and darkroom. Now I've reached a point where virtually every manipulated image is done on the computer." Along the way, he had to wrestle with questions of quality. " I was getting great quality on my 8x10 transparencies done in the darkroom and my initial outputs from the computer were not as good. I think too many photographers are working at too low a resolution on their computers. Smaller files are much easier to work with, but they are not good enough for stock photography- the image might become a billboard. My outputs now are generally in the 50MB range and the quality stands up.

And then there's the question of cost. Francekevich admits it's not cheap. "The cost for producing each picture is considerably higher than in the darkroom, because of the scanning, outputting, and storage costs added to all the normal photographic costs. The trade off is time and the ability to do more work- and more ambitious and imaginative work."

 

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