It’s hard to imagine—and a lot of people don’t remember—what the print shop and design industry was like before Adobe Photoshop was introduced in 1990. Digital image retouching, printing, and typography were very expensive and the exclusive domain of professionals with years of experience and training.
Typesetting machines alone could cost well over $100,000. Within half a decade, designers and print shops with color Macs and a scanner could create professional images and precise layouts in a fraction of time. Our director of printing operations at Accent Printing Solutions, Erik Krawiec, remembering his first introduction to Photoshop, told me his story:
I was first introduced to Photoshop in 1996 in my graphic arts class in Elizabeth High School. My teacher sat each of us in front of our own Macs and had us learn from Adobe’s “Classroom in a Book” series. After learning how to duplicate images via the cloning stamp (the project was to place extra crawdaddies on a plate for a menu), we were given the task of making our own “trick” photo.
Now, my father was really into trick photography back in late 70s and early 80s and had entered numerous photo contests in the area. Our basement had been converted into a dark room, and he would spend hours at a time down there developing film and cutting and pasting images on top of one another, and then he would take pictures of that to form the trick photo. One of those photos named “Child’s Daydream” (which he won many awards off of) was of me standing on the wooden fence looking out into the sky with ships and planes flying around. In the center of the sun was a monster (which was a photo of my father’s friend’s Halloween costume). He spent weeks working on this particular photo and the end result was really spectacular.
Flash forward to 1996 and using my father’s trick photo as inspiration, I chose to enlarge a conch shell and make it look like an island off the coast of a beach. I put extra boats in the water around it and even had seagulls perched on top of the shell. Utilizing my newfound Photoshop skills, I used the cloned stamp to create breaking waves around my new seashell island. (Sadly, the file is now lost due to the disk that it was saved on had failed. Thanks SyQuest!)
When I showed my father what I had done in class, he was amazed. When I told him I had done it on a computer and it had only taken me three hours, his jaw dropped. To me that moment was the beginning of the Digital Age seeing how a computer program was replicating a manual process that would normally take weeks into just a few hours. And that was my introduction to Adobe Photoshop 3.0.