7.15.2020

Why professional photography will never come back in the form it had at the end of 2019. Everything changes. Everything moves forward.

This photograph took time and effort to produce.
It was photographed on medium format black and white film.
The film was hand developed, Contact sheets were made. A large 
print was made after many test prints, in our darkroom.
One version was colored by hand with transparent oil paints. 
It was used during the run of a play at Live Oak Theater for promotion.
This image and A series  in the same style, also hand-colored with 
Marshall's Oils, was displayed in the lobby before, during and 
after the run of the play.  That was nearly 30 years ago.
It's still in my portfolio. 

This photograph was taken in the spur of the moment, during a walk with two friends.
We all had our cameras with us and we came across this person on a bridge in
downtown Austin. I took the photograph in less than a minute. I spent two minutes 
tweaking it in post and then used it as an illustration of Facebook.

By the end of the day it had been consumed. 
By the end of the next day it was thousands of "page" down the 
rabbit hole and never seen again. It's not in my portfolio and it
represents the new paradigm of images that are made to be 
consumed in the moment rather than leveraged over time.
It's never been in my portfolio. 

In a certain period here in the USA it was a practice among some parents, who caught their teenaged kids smoking cigarettes, to force the child to smoke the entire pack until they became sick. Physically ill. Puking their guts up. 

The thought behind the punishment was to make the process of over-dosing on nicotine and tar so odious and uncomfortable that the child would never want to smoke again. It's a practice that seems aligned with the theory that a good way to "cure" addiction is to "hit bottom." I'd guess the practice grew out of animal studies using electric shock as a behavioral disincentive....

I'm not a therapist but I have a feeling that what's happening to classic photography right now falls into the same category: force feeding a society with so many images that, once there are other outlets for our attention, we'll never want to go back to Instagram, 500PX, or Facebook and look at photographs the same way we are right now --- never again. 

As we are furloughed from our jobs, fearful of leaving our homes, and have watched all ten of the decent movies currently available on Netflix, we have devolved to clicking through online image galleries in the hopes of continually finding something new, interesting, titalating, shocking or alluring to keep our minds and imaginations occupied for the hour, half day, week, etc. 

If statistics are accurate we, as a culture, are gorging ourselves on quickly made and instantly served visual fare. It's composed of photographs, meme graphics and super short movies that are made mostly to be instantly consumed by the viewer once. Only once. And then the assumption is that the viewer will move on to the next image that gets dumped into the vast bucket.

Most photographers of a certain age still identify "real" photography as being high resolution images that could (operative work = "could") find their way onto a print. An actual paper print. The potential to be printed also creates the assumption that the image, as realized by the printing, would have a life beyond the first and primary consumption. We'd want to come back to it and view it again and again. 
The photographic print would exist over time rather than being consumed and discarded.

The same demographic imagines that print is still primary. That advertising even now consists of a hierarchy of media in which the primacy of the media is prioritized as follows: TV, then print (magazines and newspapers), then printed collateral (brochures) and then, grudgingly, the work seeps down to the online electronic marketplace of social media. 

But just as the enforced isolation of the lockdowns are forcing people to make more and more use of social media and apps to work, entertain themselves, and connect, more and more advertisers (already bleeding budgets and customer engagement opportunities) are pulling back from more expensive and less promiscuous media and putting the bulk of their marketing efforts into media with the biggest reach and the lowest production costs. And all of that lives on the web. And it's done for very temporary consumption. 

When you add in Zoom meetings, online education, and connection to family, I'd conservatively predict that most peoples' daily screen time (mandatory and otherwise) is doubling over that consumed just last year. When the virus is finally conquered and it's safe to go back to work and school and play I expect that people will become so conversant and inured to their screens that printed and displayed photos, as well as print in general, will seem...uncomfortable and odd. They will have lost their ability to fluidly, and at the same time, deeply immerse themselves in a media that once could count on continuing allure and staying power for its value.

At that point print in many forms will become distinctly a niche category of the arts. Supplanted by consumable screen images, short form screen video, and collages of electronic engagement. No one will remember how to sit quietly and look at one image for any amount of time. We will have fully evolved into beings with an attention span, for single, discrete images, displayed "off screen", of about 5 seconds. And three of those seconds will be spent trying to decide if it's okay to move on already...

So, what does this have to do with commercial photography? Oh, I'm sure being paid to make visual content will continue to be a profession but the requirements of clients will presage a realignment towards nothing but screen display-oriented materials. And, as part of that new regimen, the images and video will need to be constantly refreshed because that will be part of their new power of engagement. You have to keep looking so you can observe the change while it happens.  You have to keep coming back to the site because you'll be infected with the fear of missing out.

This is nearly antithetical to the flow of our intentions as photographers that we developed over the last two decades. Even now the sought after cameras of our industry are still measured, in large part, by how much resolution and dynamic range they bring to the table. The underlying but false assumption is that the cameras are being engineered to meet the most stringent and prevalent use cases. That currently conforms to the idea that print is still "top of the heap." So Sony sells a number of A7iii cameras that deliver 24 megapixels of detail. The A7Riv was probably designed as a "specialist" camera and one that only a small subset of users would need and want to buy but it's selling briskly. And it is so obviously a camera that was engineered to make big, printable files.

The same holds true of product introductions from Canon, Nikon and Panasonic. Each maker leads with a flagship model that seems mostly aimed at the "idea" of producing very large printed pieces. At a time when even professional photographers seldom print more than 5% of their jobs in a year. 
And 4K computer screens are approximately 8 megapixels. Your 60 megapixel camera would have to have its files reduced by over 700% just to fit on the screen... (downsampling? Yikes!). 

At the end of the pandemic constraints here in the USA (the only market I can really watch with some certainty...) high end camera sales will have plummeted to near historic lows. The only glimmer of hope for real sales volume will be cameras that are purchased with the intention that they'll be used  for video production. The Apple iPhone 12 will be launched and will be highly successful as an all around video and still camera. It will be joined by models from the other talented makers of smart phones. 

Those cameras/phones will be surprisingly successful in the commercial space because they have been tightly designed to excel at exactly the only media that's growing and healthy --- the screens. 
Once advertising agencies and marcom departments discard their last decade prejudices toward bespoke imaging tools the rationale for most camera used in production to be anything other than smart phones will fade away. It will take time but the writing is on the wall. 

And, as I suggested ten years ago, the professional image maker of the present and future will be someone who can photograph and make video, edit video, take advantage of new venues for their products, and be multi-platform creative content providers. The idea of being a traditionalist with a sack of still cameras will seem quaint and old fashioned. It already does.

Given the need to constantly produce and publish fresh work the photographers of the future will probably work more often and on more diverse parts of projects. They'll be busy supplementing still images with video and vice versa. They'll be producing quick web properties that clients will use for hours, or a few days, at the most. And even though the fee structures will decline the photographers who are fully engaged with their clients over long periods of time will.......make it up on volume. Or more billable hours. 

You can see the change already. Even on YouTube the influencers who were all the rage just a few years ago are experiencing fallow times. It used to be enough to sit at a desk, do a fancy introduction module and then stay stationary and drone on and on about a reviewable camera. You watched the review, the camera being reviewed was its own "B" roll and, if the camera still interested you by the end of the program you might click through a link for more information. And that click thru paid the V-logger some pocket change for making the review (if it was entertaining and pushed the product to a sale). 

Now I watch YouTube and see photographers like Peter McKinnon who are more like contestants/hosts/actors. He's not operating a camera and he's not running sound; most likely he's in front of the camera(s) performing lifestyle events while tangentially using a product that needs to be marketed. He's become the actual product and his ability to accrue nearly 5 million viewers is the product. 

To be successful he's had to become the writer, the producer and the star of a show about making images that speaks to the creation process as entertainment and now has "product placement" in the place of a traditional review. The production values are good. The pacing and flow are modern and plucky. But there's not even a whiff of the idea that he is dedicated to making images that must be printed. While he might offer prints his real product is the actual video and the real goal of the video is to drive people to buy expensive and overpriced cameras which will largely be used to create 1080p videos of cats. Or images of women, practicing what they think are their most seductive poses, which are destined to be dumped onto Instagram at 1600 px. in exchange for comments and heart emojis. 

The real product in the near future will be the flow of work, not the finished piece of work. But don't despair, this is just my assessment of the commercial side of photography. As amateurs, hobbyists (I personally like: Enthusiasts) we can do photography however we please and present it in any form. 

But I am beginning to see my printer as something...vestigial.





31 comments:

David Evans said...

I have long had a fantasy that I will pick those of my photos that I want to see often, print them large and put them on the wall. Maybe lockdown is a good time to start. But I think in the very long run electronic picture frames may be capable of all the subtlety of print. Then maybe the printer will be doomed.

Dave Jenkins said...

Time will tell of course, but I think you are unduly pessimistic. I believe books, and books of photographs in particular, will continue to do well.

Why don't you do a book about Austin? You need a project, and that's one you are perfectly positioned to do.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Maybe pessimistic but I don't really think so. I didn't say the sky was falling but that we're undergoing a sea change in the way most Americans get advertising and, by extension, photography. The change to digital was inarguably a paradigm shift, so is our transference to a completely online experience...

As to books. The idea of documenting a town changing so quickly almost seems like skeet shooting at targets that are hypersonic.

If I shoot photographs of Austin here I have no certainty any of it will be here by the time the book is published.

karmagroovy said...

I agree with Mr. Evans. In the future there will be electronic picture frames with strong, long lasting batteries so that there are no wires protruding. They will automatically change their brightness depending on the environment. There will be glossy, lustre and matte settings. Photographers will hate them because they won't look the same as traditional paper prints.

Richard Jones said...

Good evening, Mr. Tuck,

A depressing post, in some ways! I hope that your predictions will not come to full fruition. Nonetheless, I'm sure commercial photographers will adapt somehow -- as you have done earlier, incorporating video into your business.

A couple of comments:

I am one who does not use social media for viewing photographs. I prefer to look at photographers' own web sites to see examples of their work. Recently I came across a reference to a "form and function" photograph by Alan Ross, and I spent some enjoyable time looking at his work on his web site.

Regarding "enforced isolation of the lockdowns are forcing people to make more and more use of social media and apps to work, entertain themselves,..." -- I find it strange that people need to depend on the internet to entertain themselves.

20 years ago - or more - I realized how addictive the internet can be, leading to an unhealthy dependency. I resolved then to not let it interfere with my time spent reading, and listening to music -- two of my satisfying means of entertainment. I've pretty much kept to that resolve.

During this lock down, I've enjoyed looking through one of my photograph books each week. This week it is "The Family of Man," that engaging collection of 503 pictures from 68 countries created by Edward Steichen for The Museum of Modern Art. Each evening before retiring, I look at and ponder a few pages of some of the most emotionally engaging photographs of people I've ever seen.

Another favorite book is "Reflections in Light," the work of long time chief photographer of the Christian Science Monitor. I was reminded of this book when reading your comments about prints.I purchased a signed print from him years ago. While I don't have a lot of wall space, I enjoy displaying a few prints of others, and I don't think I will ever lose that pleasure.

Hopefully, most photographers will continue to offer prints of their work (Alan Ross, whom I mentioned above, is one.)

Best wishes for continued success in your business!

Richard Jones

Richard Jones said...

Hello again, Mr. Tuck,

May I edit my post above? If not possible, I include here that I omitted the photographer's name of the book, Reflections in Light. He is Gordon Converse.

Thanks,

Richard Jones

JC said...

I don't know enough about any of this to argue, but I will offer one observation -- "hand-built" anything (furniture, paintings, lawns, model airplanes, whatever) seem to doing quite well, or were, before the virus, and I believe that trend will continue after the virus. It applies to people with certain kinds of physical talent, where there is some prestige involved in owning these hand-built things. That may well apply to photographs. I write books for a living, and my publisher hired a well-known professional photographer to takes photos of me for the back covers of my books. David Burnett took a bunch of excellent book-cover photos, and a B&W "snapshot" of me sitting in a cowboy-boot store that is the most treasured photo I've every had made of me, and will be for the rest of my life, because David is an exceptionally talented photographer and took an exceptional photo. That, at least, is where one market will always exist, IMHO, hard products that people treasure, and that includes photographs. Nobody treasures a one-second experience. Wedding photographers will continue to do okay, I think, because their hand-made product memorializes a critical moment in the lives of the people involved. Commercial advertising photographers have always taken ephemeral photographs, because those photos were always intended to be here one week, and gone the next, even when they were made for Time or Life, and even when they were shot by Avedon. So: IMHO, not only will there be a place for hand-built stuff, and if done well, will always be treasured. iPhone photos of a street person posted on Facebook? Not so much.

Dave Lumb said...

"If I shoot photographs of Austin here I have no certainty any of it will be here by the time the book is published."

Reason enough to produce the book I'd have thought.

Anonymous said...

"Your 60 megapixel camera would have to have its files reduced by over 700% just to fit on the screen... (downsampling? Yikes!)."

Not possible. Reduce something by 100% and it is gone. From 60 Megapixels to 8 Megapixels means a reduction of approximately 87%.

Your general meditations about professional photography are accurate though and can serve as a reminder for other professions too. Glorifying the past doesn't make sense when everything around you changes.

I like your blog especially for this kind of philosophical viewpoint.

Best regards from Germany, Peter

Patrick Dodds said...

What Dave Lumb said.

Rufus said...

I see where you are coming from Kirk, but the sands are shifting.

As commercial photography as you know it is commoditised and democratised, it indeed loses its inherent value.

But photography as an art and collectible is growing. In this realm, film is making a come back.

Your first image of that fabulous "cowboy" has considerable value. It will endure.

So shoot more of the first image and less of the last. Go back to film. Get published. Print and exhibit your work. People will appreciate it and pay to view it. I truly believe they will.

Many younger photographers are taking this direction. Such as this young man with his 6x Mamiya :

https://maxmiechowski.com

Ian K said...

My son in law is a pro photographer in the U.K. His studio work has swung away from people to product photography. So many online businesses are looking for decent product shots that he is inundated with work and has had to employ more staff.

As you say, times are a changing.

John Holmes said...

Thanks Kirk, keep it up. I think you are on the correct track for the future. The problem with many of the comments is that they are viewing things through different "lenses". In addition too many older photographers don't seem to want to make changes and their views are more like how the wish the future looked.

Jeff said...

There has always been change but we don't always notice it. My parents and many others had nice formal childhood pictures and wedding pictures done all dressed up in a photographers studio. That business is pretty much gone now, at least in the U.S., along with many other things: floppy disks, electronic calculators, transistor radios, kodak instamatics, Apple Lisas, dial phones.....

It could happen exactly as you say but the future is pretty murky plus we know that people get tired of things pretty quickly. Maybe after all this screen time there will be a renewed demand for Life magazine, deluxe editions of books with faux leather covers, and 8x10 platinum contact prints. Who knows.

Alex Carnes said...

I love my printer... I just wish it cost a bit less! The price of making a high quality print on decent A3+ paper (I use 315gsm cotton rag) is eye watering, especially if I have it professionally framed as well! That's what it's all about though.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kirk.
I'm usually reading your blog and nodding along saying to myself "he's bang on the money with this".

On this one I think you're quite wrong.

In the UK, at least, there is a move back towards print. Not en masse, but there's a market for high production value beautifully curated magazines and books. Disposable work will still be disposable, but quality work will still shine in print.

There's a real demand for time away from screens. Screen breaks are part of our guidance and health requirements. People are still seeking out actual physical images. Eg. Video art may be beloved by the critics but I can think of only two or three pieces that I would care to revisit. Very few videos are forming part of the standing collections.

I think your kit point is closer to being true. Photographers will use the tools they need to get the images they seek. If they can do that with phones, they will. I think computational photography is still some way from replacing professional cameras.

My day job and field is in bleeding edge tech.

Overall I think that there'll always be space for all forms. Variety is the spice of life. Vinyl and film have made a comeback and the world is broad enough to cater for all tastes.

Possibly.

Mark

Anonymous said...

All the older people who've responded are right for themselves. I see a different future than they do. I see much smaller homes. Much more nomadic lifestyles. Much less disposable income. Much less wall space for print display. Much more emphasis on the "experience" and much less emphasis on the "souvenir." Just as my friends don't want to sit down in a restaurant for two hours and pay $100 apiece for a plate of food, we'd rather hit a food trailer and grab a beer. There is a generational difference here and even if Kirk didn't mention it the differences exist. Those will determine the real future of his commercial photography. Not some one else's preference for hand crafted stuff. It's almost like entitlement versus reality. Kirk is correct, at least as far as commercial photography goes. That's what he was writing about here.

-JJ

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

It's hard to predict the future. It may be even harder to live in it. No one likes to give up familiar ways.

Eric Rose said...

My take on the "resurgence" of film and print making is that it will be very short lived. You have a bunch of Adams and Weston worshippers who are now retired and have the time to play in their darkrooms. Lots of prints being made and lots of film and B&W paper being sold. They scan their prints and post them to various photography websites. Some even produce vanity books. All the power to them I say! Heck I'm one of them to a certain degree. I love analog and the whole process. In these times of uncertainty it gives you something real at the end of the day. I can still print negatives made by my grandfather whereas all my digital images will someday be rendered unreadable to future generations. The hipsters will move on from film and it will die. The digital age is an age of no legacy left.

On our street almost all the residents take great care with their lawns just like our fathers did. Except for two homes owned by residents in their late 30's. They only cut their grass when it's almost ready to seed. They are really nice people, both are very well educated and make decent money. While the rest of us are horrified and somehow feel insulted, they just don't care. Their values are very different than our generation. They also don't care about getting professional photos done of their growing families and have no photographs on their walls. They do however have really BIG media setups. Not to watch regular TV shows on ABC, CBS or even CNN/FOX but for streaming services and games. The people who watch regular TV will be aging out very quickly.

These young neighbours lives revolve around what they can find on their cellphones. Not even a computer, that's just for work, just the phone. So any advertiser worth his/her salt will source and produce imagery that lends itself to mobile devices. Photographers who think they can make a living by producing beautiful images that have to be viewed on a computer or laptop screen will be very disappointed with their future prospects.

It's my opinion that commercial photography as we knew it last year (this year doesn't count) is history. Within ten years maybe sooner the need for a high megapixel camera and super sharp lenses will be gone. Dinosaurs just as the 4x5 and 8x10 film cameras of the past.

The short version is our generation is aging out. Our tastes don't matter anymore. Advertisers know this and are retooling.

Eric

Anonymous said...

Cor, this is getting quite philosophical - particularly on the generational front. I found out recently that I actually fall between two generations (in a microgeneration no less!).

Aaaanyway. Maybe things are different over this side of the pond. Around 10 years ago there was a definite shift of the type JJ (above) mentions. What I am seeing and hearing more now from the new recruits at work is about buying their own place and working remotely (we're all doing that now, and will for the foreseeable). Not having to live in town broadens the budget. Looking to weigh anchor in a turbulent world seems more attractive.

If you're working from home, suddenly having outdoor space and attractive things to make the space your own are more important.

Buying a nice photo or bit of art for the wall is not expensive.

Commercial photography is a very, very wide banner. Our comms people at work are playing with video. Sometimes it's the right vehicle. Sometimes a still photo is more powerful. Sometimes performance art... Warhol did video portraits decades ago. They've not gained traction yet... Our new recruits in the design department know and appreciate the quality of what they put into the work. They're the ones obsessing over the smell, texture, and density of the paper stock that is used.

It's not the older generation around here that are buying vinyl. It's the teenagers and twenty somethings.

And streaming, natch.

So where the younger millennials talked a lot about experience over possessions there's now a definite drift back towards 'stuff'. Art, music, and authenticity (slippery concept) as badges of who we are.

Perhaps the best way I can frame it is to say that technology and availability has hugely broadened the palette - teenagers are now happily listening to a far wider range of music from across the decades than previous generations could (afford). While they're not buying shelves of cds, they are buying and gifting vinyl, books, pictures.

There's still posters on walls.
Clippings from magazines.
This can still coexist with Pinterest.
There's tiktokkers and people kicking against that and dropping away from social media.

And generations are not as homogeneous as we think.

But then I would say that as I fall between two.

Mark



Eric Rose said...

Mark, things are very different in NA. Both Canada and the US. The UK and Europe has a better appreciation of "art" and traditional methods.

Unknown said...
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Craig Yuill said...

Your comments at the end about about YouTube influencers reflects, to some extent, what I think of most of them - they are largely into self promotion and promotion of gear by specific companies. I used to watch Peter McKinnon regularly, but eventually got tired of his focus on style (lots of slow motion and drone shots in exotic locales) - so I rarely watch him anymore. I think McKinnon's main non-YouTube business is producing video ads - and I am pretty certain I have seen a couple of ads that were produced by him. They were well done - he does have talent and skill!

Lately, however, I have started regularly watching a YouTuber you mentioned months ago - James Popsys - who unabashedly promotes Lumix-brand gear at the beginning of each video, but actually offers useful tips and techniques to help viewers produce better photographs. And that is what I think a lot of us want - to learn how to be good/better photographers.

Your focus on photography rather than gear is what has kept me coming back for several years now. Please don't change that focus.

Zave Shapiro said...

I hear about nomadic lifestyles and remote work and a lot of cool stuff; heck, I'm retired and use the Internet. Do you know who mows their lawn? Do you know who appreciates an adult, slow meal? Do you know who enjoys the water-cooler chatter and has the same neighbours for years at a time and who votes? Someone with two kids and a mortgage. That's who finds the world is very noisy and the comforts of home are comfortable. That's who wants the potholes fixed and clean water from their taps, a favourite picture on the wall and maybe a dog. Had enough Zoom meetings yet?

Kurt Friis Hansen said...

Hi Kirk

Re: “It's hard to predict the future. It may be even harder to live in it. No one likes to give up familiar ways.”

Predicting the future is downright impossible, I’d say. In some periods, more than other. Anyway, you cannot prevent it coming. As “the Borg” say: Resistance is futile ;-)

To the young, anonymous chap/lassie: Not all old geezers are incapable of understanding, or even objecting to living a similar life to you. Don’t write off those old “Flower Power” survivors yet, there’s still a lot of intent of experiencing in some of us with a lot of miles and scrapes on the chassis. I’ve even experienced a few physically old (but not of mind) Americans with looots of wall space uttering irreverent thoughts about their wealthy and ultra surburban protected kins excessive use of blinkers during a relaxed dinner some years ago in Oaxaca in Mexico. ;-)

Age is not really usable as a distinguishing factor for open minded behavior. It’s only a bit limiting in speed (physical, not thought ;-)

Keep the juices rolling... All of you!

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Zave, I am 64 years old and have never owned or used a lawn mower in my entire adult life. Just a data point.

Michael Matthews said...

Peter McKinnon (you brought him up) is an interesting case. He’s quite a skilled photographer. But he has the unusual advantage of being even more skilled as a performer, especially the entrancing, slight-of-hand moves used in stage magic. Unfortunately, perhaps for me only, he found the performance aspect of his Youtube presence to be the much larger magnet for viewers. As that has caused his content to deteriorate into a mishmash of personality-lifestyle adventures...ripping through the environment in a caravan of ATVs, zooming about on a jet ski...his audience has grown so large as to near the top-heavy point of collapse. That is a rational choice: where the revenue flows, the smart guy goes. It will end, of course. But that hardly matters. By then he will have corralled so much money he’ll never have to work again. Maybe then he’ll find his way back to photography.



Eric Rose said...

"Zave, I am 64 years old and have never owned or used a lawn mower in my entire adult life. Just a data point."

Wow you are so fortunate! I hate mowing the grass!

Eric

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Hi Eric, We lived in apartments, then a condominium which provided landscaping and lawn care. By the time we moved into our house 23 years ago an hour of my billing would pay for two weeks of lawn care. Since I would likely cut off toes operating heavy machinery we've never gone down the road of doing our own lawn care. It has consistently been a better economic calculation to pay an independent contractor to do the service. His team is better, faster and more efficient than I would ever be. Left to my schedule/procrastination we would currently living in a jungle of invasive species and unruly plant life. Remind me to tell you about the ONE TIME when I bought a tree saw to cut off a dead tree limb. $1,800 and a trip to an emergency medical clinic later we ended up "gifting" the saw to our lawn guy and hiring a specialist tree service for tree trimming. A service we also still use today.

To add insult to confessional injury I can also state that I have not tried to change my own oil for my car since an ill-fated episode with a Volkswagen Bug about 42 years ago. Best to let experts do the stuff they are trained to do.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kirk.

Wonderful confessions. And yep, there's always a good reason for calling in the pros.

Having failed to find a contractor I'd trust to lay a pathway I decided to do that myself last year (I spent a summer doing that while at university, so have the skills.

Twas more backbreaking than I remembered...

Mark

Mike Mundy said...

I'm thinking that most museum curators would take a (big) print of the second, color, photo over the traditional top one.

I know some people say that hands-on time spent on an object adds to its value. But I don't know if that's true.