Last Updated on 03/14/2018 by Mark Beckenbach
Part of being a photographer means being an IT guy.
“I leave Tuesday for my first Caribbean project of the season,” is what my friend Cory Silken tells me that serves as the motivation for this article. “I’ve literally been preparing a new kit since October.” And for the most part, he’s right. You probably wouldn’t care or agree as much if you’re a hobbyist photographer, but if you’re a seasoned professional then you’ll completely understand where we’re coming from. Every time you go into a seriously large gig of some sort, there’s a big equipment check. You’ll see that your batteries are in perfectly and fully charged, you have extra memory cards, your flashes are in working order, your camera sensor is spotless, and will be prepped for a variety of other mishaps that are bound to be problematic. But most of all, you’ll need to ensure that you have the latest firmware update on your camera, lenses, flashes, devices, etc.
Crazy, right? I admittedly own the Fujifilm X Pro 1 and still haven’t updated to the last firmware update that the company offered. The same goes for my Sony a7. My Sony a7r III also probably doesn’t have the latest firmware update. Why? It’s not really bothersome to me and I use it to create good work. Anything it can’t do, I understand as a logical human being that I can find a way to compensate for its shortcomings. But this is also generally just a major pain. It goes something like this:
- Drone firmware updates
- test new D850s
- Learn new settings
- Test every lens on every camera body
- test A7r III
- Learn why S Log ruins even raw stills
- backup laptop
- clear laptop hdd space
- buy new accessories for all above items
- re-test and re-update all
- watch countless hours of instructional youtube videos to make sure I’m doing it best.
If you’re a working pro this sounds all too real. But then let me add to that even more:
- Update website
- Manage gallery
- Update plugins
- Look at HTML code to ensure that they’re all perfect
- Call server host to fix some sort of weird issue
- Manage Cloudflare
In most cases, photographers don’t need to do the latter but all the other stuff is really all just part of being an IT guy. And as time has progressed, I genuinely think that being part IT specialist has become fundamental in being a photographer: the technology has advanced so far and it’s much more capable due to computers, chips, processors, and innovations. But also, it just takes time away from shooting photos. I mean, that’s the reason why you bought the camera and the lens in the first place, right? Some people don’t even update their phone’s apps all the time but they’re more likely to do that vs updating their camera’s firmware. So with all this technology built in and Wifi, Bluetooth, etc. I really start to wonder why cameras these days cannot be activated to download the firmware themselves and update it per the lens and camera. I mean, wouldn’t it just make sense to add a little thing to the menu that checks your firmware and ensures that it works? Further, it would give you the option of updating or not rather than forcing it?
I’d personally love that. It would mean that I wouldn’t need to keep my camera connected to the computer to get the firmware updates or need to load it onto an SD card and then boot it up via the camera’s menu system.
Maybe this is partially why I really like using film. For the life of me, I don’t understand why some people and labs decide to scan images in such a way that they can edit them later on on their computers. Or why people get scans back and then decide they’re going to mess with the images in Lightroom. Why? Just why? Why don’t you just shoot digital instead and get a much more superior experience. When you shoot film (and this is the case for most film shooters), you shoot so that you don’t typically need to do that editing on a computer. It’s done in the development process in a lab. What you get in the print is what you should be happy with. Eventually, you’ll adopt those same strategies to how you shoot digitally. I shoot digital in the same way that I would shoot slide film.
Why put more work into the not shooting part than we need to?