Thinking About Tim O'Reilly's iPhoto Album

by Derrick Story

Digital photography is its own medium. Over the last few years I've noticed a subtle prejudice against digital imaging, that it was "toy photography." In other words, real men don't use digital cameras.

Boy, what a crock.

You might want to revisit the home page of your favorite "real" photographer. Chances are that he or she switched to digital when you weren't looking.

This all came to light the other morning when I was working with Tim O'Reilly on the Digital Photography Pocket Guide. I'm fortunate to have Tim as one of my two editors on this project.

We had planned to release the book this week. But in the late stages of production, we noticed that some of the photos "just weren't doing it" for us. To everyone's credit involved, we stopped the presses, reworked a few of the images, and sent the book back to the printer. It will ship within 2 weeks.

As Tim and I were grappling with some of these images, he popped open his TiBook and began to show me pictures from his iPhoto album. Tim is shooting with a Canon PowerShot S200 these days. He was trying to show me examples of compositions he had in his mind, but were difficult to describe.

(BTW: He had some handheld night shots using 1 second exposures that were really fun to view.)

At this moment, the notion that digital photography is truly a different medium became clear. Tim popping open his laptop and scrolling through pictures to convey ideas has happened to me many times recently in different circumstances: with friends, at the Mac OS X Conference, even with strangers in coffee shops.

The convergence of digital imaging and portable computing enables us to carry our life's stories with us at all times. Yes, a picture is worth a 1,000 words, and having those pictures with us makes us better communicators. And I might add, just a little bit more interesting.

I ended up substituting four photos in the Photo Pocket Guide as a result of my conversation with Tim. When I looked at the proofs yesterday, I thought those changes really improved the book.

Digital imaging will never replace film photography. The VCR did not kill movie theaters. It's not about one instead of the other. We have a new medium here, and its possibilities are very exciting.


2002-11-01 09:51:27
Upcoming Digital Photo Workshop
I'll go into much greater detail about the hows and whys of digital photography during an upcoming all day workshop in San Francisco on Friday, Nov. 22. More info here.