Photos © 1999, Maria Piscopo, All Rights Reserved
(original image in color)
New media technology provides
one of the most important industry changes in the photography marketplace.
It is important because it creates many new job opportunities for photographers
who know how and where to look for the work. It is important because
new technologies, client mergers, and the proliferation of stock photography
sales have besieged the assignment photography marketplace. The answer
to having less work is to find out where the work is now, not simply
complain about it going elsewhere!
The first step is to shift from thinking of photography as an isolated
discipline. It is now a team effort. For the new media markets, this
means a photographer working as part of a group of image-makers. It
means working with other creative professionals including graphic artists,
computer artists, and filmmakers.
Tony Luna and Harry Liles co-founded New Media Marketplace for this
new market. Luna teaches a lecture on this topic, titled, "Visual
Content for the New Millennium." Some of their recent clients
include Bozell Advertising, Johnson and Johnson, and DePuy-Ace. Their
affiliates have worked on movie projects including True Lies, Flubber,
The X-Files Movie, The Parent Trap, and Titanic. To find out how to
get started, we interviewed Luna for his advice on developing new media
Shutterbug: What is "new media?"
Tony Luna: "New media" is a catchall term
that generally applies to computer generated and/or manipulated images.
Because it is an evolving term it can apply to a wide spectrum of media
including photo retouching and photocomposition to sophisticated visual
effects. The exciting thing about "new media" is that it
is constantly creating itself as innovative applications arise out of
new and old technologies. The interesting thing to keep in mind is that
technologies which were originally developed for use in surveillance,
or space exploration, or scientific research, etc. have been refashioned
to create software which artists have embraced and turned into new forms
of expression. When these forms of expression gain acceptance by the
viewing public they generate new markets and, therefore, new job opportunities.
One example would be fractal technology which had its roots in mathematical
games, then was used in intelligence gathering, and now is used to create
mathematical models of images which can be manipulated and compressed
for transmission over phone lines worldwide without corrupting the original
SB: How did you get started in this direction?
TL: From my own point of reference I was "bitten"
by the new media bug in the mid-1980s. I was part of a panel discussing
the impact of technology on the business of photography. I was amazed
back then at the doomsday attitude that some of the photographers were
expressing. They were fretting that robots were going to take away their
jobs, and that "programs" were going to rob the soul of
photography. At some point I had an insight as to what it might have
been like to be in Paris in 1836 listening to artists decrying their
fate as they worried that their jobs would be wiped out as a result
of the new image taking machine invented by Daguerre. The point is that
you embrace the new technology and infuse it with your own special point
of view or you become the best of the last remaining artists and continue
to make a living. In either case you are contributing to the collective
visual consciousness and you are sharing your vision.
SB: What part does each person on the creative team
play and who does what?
TL: One of the most intriguing factors of involving
yourself in the creation of new media is that it is so highly collaborative.
The photographer who involves himself in new media must be able to express
his vision to a wide array of team players. Your images may be used
in traditional print, then be put on a web site, and on to a CD-ROM
and eventually broadcast through developing media. As an image capturer
and image enhancer you have to be conversant with an ever-changing landscape
of applications. With these shared responsibilities come the need for
new media producers who can make sure a job stays focused and all the
players are on the same page. You will have to spend more time in preproduction
to make certain that you are creating your images in such a way that
they will work seamlessly in the final products. I get calls from people
who have started on projects, had visual assets sent in from various
suppliers, and now have stacks of floppy, Zip, and Jazz disks, flat
art, and other media and none of it will track with the design the technical
staff wanted to employ. To make these elements work together our industry
needs technical supervisors with an aesthetic sense and artists who
can talk to the technical people.
SB: How does a computer literate photographer get started?
TL: I encourage photographers, filmmakers, and graphic
artists who are interested in getting into this field to go back to
the basics of why they got into their art form. The technology is another
tool to explore your unique way of seeing and capturing the world. Don't
get romanced by a technological "look"--that is too fleeting.
Sooner or later that look will be obsolete. But rather look for ways
to reach more people more effectively using a technological palette.
The hardware and the software mean nothing without the soul you infuse
into it. First of all you still have to tell a story, and secondly you
have to have that story touch on the human condition. That is something
that no one can program.
SB: What can you recommend for the photographer who
is less computer savvy?
TL: Be aware. Look for images that touch you. Find
out how they were created. Ask questions. One of the greatest things
I have seen in the new media is that people are sincerely interested
in helping each other. When I first started in the 1970s people were
guarded, insulated, about their craft as though you were going to steal
their ideas and ideas were too precious to be revealed. But nowadays
we need each other more than ever and there is a change of heart in
the developing industries. As a result there is more innovation, more
risk taking, more choice. Overall I believe this to be the real beauty
of the new media and the new artist--we are not just creating new art
forms, we are creating new ways of applying our craft.
Note: New Media Marketplace is based in Burbank and
their web site is at: www.newmediamarketplace.com.