Time is of the essence, when working in a timezone which is ten hours behind your own. In practise this means that if I want to make tomorrows paper, all my images have to be in by 14.oo at the latest local time. When competitions end about that time over here, you are in a hurry – in a big hurry.
You make your selection of the images in your head as you run to to the press center, load the card into the computer, select, quickly edit, caption and transmit. And too often you notice that they did not wait for your image…
And the last thing you want is the security stopping you for any reason…
There are a couple of tricks you can do speed up this process a bit – or should I say to optimize the workflow. Starting from hardware: using fast cards and a firewire-800 cardreader. Using a fast photo-browser, ie. not going thru Lightroom, Aperture or Bridge, but using Photomechanic. I do use all of these programs, but when I need speed, PM is the only real option.
In addition, for sportsphotography, PM comes with a special bonus: it utilizes a feature called “code replacement”: you create a list of participants of a certain event (like: bib-name-nationality) and all you have to do when writing a caption is to enter the bib-number and you have the correct name in the caption field.
What is more: they offer these code-replacement files here as a complimentary service, you can download them from the net before the competitions. Never seen it done before, but what a nice service.
A very standard m.o. in sports photography is using wireless transmitter from the camera to the computer. You can set your computer so that the incoming image transmitted from the camera gets automatically redirected to your client. But the downside of this is that you have to drag the computer with you and for instance if it is pissing with rain, that is not the best possible option.
But there is another solution, which for instance HS (our biggest daily) has been using here. You use a “box” – here provided by Bell – which creates a WiFi -connection to your cameras WiFi-transmitter and then another connection thru HSDPA/3G/Edge to your local network and the internet. Sort of “dummy” pocket size computer or an interface between the cam and net.
I talked with Sami Kero of Helsingin Sanomat (a very good photographer and the nicest guy) and he said that after the initial set up problems he has been using it quite succesfully. If I understand correctly, the same piece of hardware is available also back home in Finland, although I had not seen it in action before coming here.
Very slick – but I am reluctant to buy yet another piece of electronics – which will be obsolete in two years time. Or which is limited to certain geographic region. The question I am asking myself is why cannot an iPhone be used for this? As a piece of hardware, it has all the necessary technology, all you need to do is to create an app which does this. Anybody…?
When dealing with radiofrequencies, there are special rules in the Olympics. All the wireless transmitters or remote-controllers must be approved and have a sticker accordingly.
Before arriving here I thought that the different frequencies in North America and Europe would pose a problem, but that is not the case: both systems are allowed and I have been using my multimaxes with no problems – apart from one of them breaking down in mid-action…
But, when creating a workflow directly from the camera to the printed page or the web, you do need an proficient editor in the receiving end.
I personally work presently with multiple clients – as a one-man-show – and I do not have that luxury, so I still stick my CD-card into the computer and edit myself. Yes, I am fast, but it still takes a minute or two.
There are others who work in teams and it is sometimes pretty amazing to see how they do it. For instance, take Reuters. They have a 26 photographers over here. One of them told me that when he sticks his card into the computer, it automatically loads all his images to his server over here. He has an editor in Warsaw, who looks into the thumbnails automatically delivered to him. This editor chooses an image and requests a crop from the server. He quickly edits it and transmits if further, this time to Shanghai, where another person captions it and puts in on the wire. Images of each athelete, each venue… imagine the amount of bits travelling across the world… within minutes, while the action is still on…
And then I get the phonecall: “Getty, AP and Reuters already have their images… what’s taking so long with you?”
But no complaints, I like working the way I do. And I am also proud of myself: I have not blown my fuse one single time on the phone when I have gotten a call like this. Maybe I am mellowing down as I am getting older…?