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“The best way out is always through.”

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs: He Gave Us a Digital Rainbow

The world lost the man who was perhaps its greatest genius on Wednesday night: Steve Jobs. Try for a minute to imagine our lives without the desktop computer, without the Apple computer--without the iPad, the iPhone, iTunes--without digital photography. Photoshop, the lifeblood of my work, works on a PC, but it sings on a Mac--it was born to be used on a Mac. It is visual opera on a Mac.

I know for certain that I would not have survived as a photographer had it not been for my sitting down at my first Mac in the early 1990s. I was about to spend a week at the Center for Creative Imaging in Camden, Maine and was required to go to Manhattan (to the Apple education/marketing center) and take a one-day course in operating a Mac. I'd never even touched one before. After one hour at that computer I went out to the hall and called my friend Lynne from a pay phone and said, "I'm buying a Mac." Sitting at that relatively primitive Mac was an incredible experience. For weeks I could barely sleep thinking of the possibilities of learning to edit digitally on this beautiful, colorful and intuitive machine. I've loved every Mac I've ever touched since that day.

There is simply no way that digital photography would have ever flourished the way it has without  the Mac. It's no understatement to say that almost every serious photographer in the world uses a Mac. I don't believe I've ever been to a studio (I've been to dozens) that wasn't lined with Macs. Now the computer has left the desktop. The iPad has forever changed the way that books, photography and art are shared and perceived. And all this from the imagination of just two men: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

Steve Jobs' entire life was an inspiration: when the business world (rather viciously) had written him off as a loser, when the company that he invented was stripped away from him, he didn't give up. The world, the press, were all too happy to label him as a loser, a failure. But he never gave up. Instead, he bought another computer company and breathed his rare genius into that company until it was bought by Apple and Jobs was reunited with his brainchild. He turned Apple into the largest corporation in the world worth over $300 billion. And he never stopped innovating, never stopped creating, never stopped imagining. As photographers, we owe him more than we can ever repay.

If you've never read the 2005 commencement speech that he delivered at Stanford University, stop and read it now. Wherever you are--at work, on the train, sitting at your Mac--read it. Steve Jobs was Picasso and Edison and Einstein all rolled into one very brave and creative individual. From the garage in his parents' home he expanded the Universe--he gave us a digital rainbow that will never, ever fade.

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