Reproduced with permission from: Screen, The Chicago Production Weekly, Martin's Multimedia column, Vol. 20 No. 23, July 6, 1998
Ace advertising photographer Bart Harris wanted to push use of his new $29,000 digital camera and needed a strong, visual tool to convince clients that digital was superior to silver bromide, a.k.a., film. A Web page was the answer and he went to fellow photographer-cum-Web developer Frank McMahon to create this Web page.
"The concept we wanted to promote immediately was Bart Harris: Cutting Edge Technology,"' said McMahon, since 1995 president of Web page development, consulting, and digital image manipulation company Digimage.Net. He started with little more than his PC, some lucky word-of-mouth and a lot of nose-to-the-keyboard determination. Now he has less time for photo ops and far more Web clients than he ever imagined.
McMahon got into the Web in early 1995 when he helped a Web Developer build the Oasis Network, a database of artists, photographers and illustrators. McMahon set up Digimage.Net as a service to artists listing their portfolios on Oasis. Unfortunately, Oasis did not do well because of the difficulty of interesting subscribing companies.
McMahon, however; found the Web to be an ideal mate for his photography services and started to develop Web pages for artists, including his father; the famous artist Franklin McMahon, his sister Margot, a sculptor; regional Kodak; Don Johnston Inc., publisher of educational software for the learning and physically disabled; Rand McNally & Co.; Chris Cohen, former Chicago alderman; and advertising agency Fairman, Schmidt & Cappelli.
All involved photography because "the use of photos are solutions to Web problems. Where other Web designers might use a graphic, logo or illustration, I'll use a grabbing photo. Photographs lend an immediacy, an irrefutable reality. If you want to sell yourself on the Web, it's good to put real pictures on your site," he explains.
His own Web page has been instrumental in cross-promoting his photography business, although he has Time, Fortune and Money magazines as clients.
McMahon comes from a Chicago family of artists, sculptors, actors arid writers. He earned an anthropology degree from Loyola University in the late '60s, although photography is his first love. After interning at newspapers, he was staff photographer on a major archaeological dig downstate. That project landed McMahon a Chicago Tribune Magazine cover story, along with stories and photos in Time and Smithsonian magazines, encyclopedias and other publications. Soon, he was a regular Time, Inc. photojournalist.
For McMahon, the Internet is "exciting and ever-changing. I like to tell a story through my photographs, and creating Web pages for clients helps me to do that as well." He is a 20-year member and former chapter co-president and board member of the American Society of Media Photographers. He is currently its Web Master and the National Internet Forum co-moderator.
At this point, he finds Web page development more satisfying work than photography" because he can be a part of the product from concept through completion. "I've approached Web design with a pioneering spirit," he says.
"I believe in the Web almost with the conviction of a religious faith, and I enjoy the excitement and the challenge of keeping up with all the newly emerging technologies," McMahon says.
Says McMahon, "I've believe that photography problems were basically solved 75 years ago, while Web problems are brand new and challenging."
Digimage.Net is located at: 431 South Dearborn Street #302, Chicago phone 312/554-0524:
by Erik J. Martin
Editor: Ruth Ratny