It Was Seven Years Ago Today (with a tip of the hat to Lennon/McCartney)

It’s hard to believe Lightroom (now known as Lightroom Classic) was introduced 14 years ago on February 19th, 2007. I bought Lightroom version one that same month. Seven years later on May 4th of 2014, I wrote my first blog post for Lightroom Guy. It was an explanation of how I develop a photo in Lightroom. There have been many dramatic Lightroom improvements over the years. But for me, nothing has changed, it’s still the post production work I love to help tell a photo’s story. The skills I use today were borne of the darkroom skills I learned in a different era. That first video demonstrated how I think in Lightroom.

A Brush with Brilliance

creative Skills - markup of black and white print

With conventional photography, we would mark up prints with printing notes using a grease pencil. (©1993 D.A.Wagner)

I was lucky enough as a young man to cross paths with, and learn from, Richard Avedon’s former printer, Frank Finocchio. In the darkroom, Frank was in his element. Very tactile. He would control the light from the enlarger using his hands and small bits of board taped to pieces of wire hanger. He’d speed up the darkening of a small area by rapidly rubbing the print with his fingers with developer. Q-tips were dipped into a solution of Potassium Ferricyanide to lighten another part. It was a dance. Frank was brilliant at his craft. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but this time working with him was a gift. I never did achieve Frank’s amazing level of skill, but I certainly tried.

Working with Ben Somoroff

As a photo assistant and darkroom printer for my boss and mentor, Ben Somoroff, I spent hours, sometime days in the darkroom getting a print right for him. It was my goal to gain Ben’s respect, spending hours, sometimes days of trial and error before a print was acceptable. Practice. Practice. Practice. Over time, I got pretty good at printing. It was Frank’s philosophy and training and Ben’s demanding eye and kindness that shaped my techniques as an early digital photographer in the mid-1980s.

Today

After decades as a working professional photographer in NYC, Lightroom Guy is my full time occupation. It’s a transition I’ve really enjoyed. I get to help hundreds of photo enthusiasts, professionals and beginners solve problems every year. I mentor. I repair broken catalogs. I help with camera skills and editing. I provide lots of tech support. And, I jump at the chance to share those darkroom skills I now use in Lightroom.

Watching my clients work, they improvise. Their passion to solve problems are unique, discovering creative solutions that aren’t in the manual. They have their own peculiar approach to photography and I don’t want to change that. I’m in awe of their self-taught skills and determination. All I do is guide them to their next skill level, to help them tell their stories and become the photographer they want to be. I learn from them as much as they learn from me.

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