Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Workflow: Retouching and printing II

Yonex Isometric Tour 300. Circa 1995.

This is an addendum to my original post. I've been asked to touch more upon either (or both) of these subjects. Though that post was written over a year ago, it rings truer than ever.

When I played high school badminton for my school in Taipei carbon technologies (like graphite) were finding their way into the racquets we used. The "best" racquets were integrated "unibody" racquets where the handle, shaft, and head were all a single monocoque piece. Traditionally racquets were made of some metal in multiple pieces and then welded together. These "newer" racquets were not only lighter due to their materials but were also lighter without sacrificing structural integrity. For all intents and purposes these racquets were more structurally sound because they were designed as a single piece and not welded together. That being said, traditional welding was pretty good and I wouldn't necessarily bet on an old racquet falling apart at the welds.

I raise this example because the workflow of modern-day photographers has advanced in the same way that modern-day racquets are made; from a single integral unit. Retouching is no longer an addendum to the workflow. It is the workflow; an integral part that can not be separated out. I will go so far as to argue that the photographer should also be the retoucher (or at the very least have that core competency to oversee the post-process). This ensures that the retouching is not an afterthought but rather a follow-through of the artistic direction of the work. Clients and art directors appreciate this the most because they are reassured that at no point during the process does the work get outsourced to some poor chap (someone who literally lives in poverty) in a third world country who wasn't at the original concept/design meeting. Sure it's cheaper to get someone else to do it. But more important than the monetary costs of retouching is the quality control of that retouching. Can you really afford to lose creative control of the process? Can you really ensure that the artistic direction of the work stays uniform throughout the process? Hopefully so. But it's much safer if you (and your team) perform this integral function of the workflow internally. The transaction costs from outsourcing (without control) reminds me of playing "telephone" where the final returned message is some mutilated version of the original message.

To quote Ghost Dog quoting Hagakure, “It is bad when one thing becomes two” :)

1 comment:

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