Digital

 

New technology, especially in the field of imageing, is both invigorating and perplexing. For every fact about digital photography there seems to be a corresponding myth. Gerry McCann has been at the forefront in reinventing photography for the editorial market with these modern tools since 1994.

His methods are tried and tested in the field. He approaches each project on its merits and creates a digital strategy. Whether the outcome is the delivery of a portrait by e-mail, or the creation of a fine art portfolio of a long-term commission, the aim of the strategy is to dovetail with the client's existing systems. Where these are in early development Gerry tailors his techniques to ensure that the client begins to build their own digital archive. These archives specifically allow for new developments in technology and delivery systems such as broadband Internet access. They are as futureproof as possible.

Gerry's approach is to harness the best of new and not so new technologies in a continually evolving hybrid. In 2002 this means using the highest quality SLR and rangefinder cameras to shoot negative and positive film in both colour and monochroome. The images are then digitised on an Imacon Flextight scanner run on an Apple Mac. They can be delivered by transmission or on CDs readable by Mac and PC.

Two recent commissions illustrate this flexible approach, as Gerry describes;

"I photographed the start of a housing project in Castlemilk for Home In Scotland in 1998. This was done in gritty reportage style to show the poor conditions people were living in there. Over the next two years I went back and photographed the process of demolition and consultation with the tenants themselves.

"By 2001 the new houses were finished. They had a sort of Mediterranean look so I shot the final phase on sunny summer days to bring out the real contrasts with the earlier pictures. Throughout this shoot I collaborated with the key individuals involved, first with the residents, and then with David Shaw of Home In Scotland and David Whitton the Chief Architect of the Homegroup.

"Finally I worked with design and publicity creatives in the use of the digitised images. These have appeared in publicity materials, a stand-alone exhibition, websites, independent publications, and in a portfolio of high quality giclee archival prints.

"Another recent commission was for the Social Work Services Department of Glasgow City Council. I was briefed to show the services using real clients in real establishments so a high degree of sensitivity was called for. We were after a set of images that showed many different aspects of the caring professions in as natural a way as possible. Basically we used genuine situations and I used my skills in observational photojournalism to record the inter-action between care staff and social workers, and a wide range of clients.

"I then created a digital portfolio of 250 print-ready images. These were stored on CDs and an index print of the thumbnails of each CD was provided. This outcome allows the client exclusive use of the images in a wide variety of media, from information leaflets to the web, without any further need for scanning by external bureaux."

Gerry McCann is convinced that our new technologies and working methods offer an incredible degree of creative freedom. The challenge is to exploit them for the sake of greater accessibility. He looks forward to continued collaboration with other creatives. This website is a good example of a joint effort between Gerry and the designer Craig Roberts.