I wanted to take time on my blog to talk about some of the awesome sponsors we have behind Couture Clicks. These sponsors don’t give us money, but they do give us great products or discounts to give to attendees. The great thing (at least in my opinion) is all of our sponsors are ones that we actually use and stand behind. I wouldn’t feature a sponsor I didn’t believe in.
I asked Doug to share how TRA came about and where it is headed! Here is what he had to say…
Totally Rad! is an accidental company name. In fact, it’s an accidental business. Back in 2006, I needed a way to justify to my business partner / boss (wife) some fancy new camera gear. Being handy with Photoshop, I decided that I could sell some of my Photoshop know-how in the form of some actions. I didn’t think much of the actions at first, since to me they all seemed obvious. “Everybody knows this stuff,” I would tell myself. But friends kept insisting otherwise. Even to people who’d been photographing for years, some of the things I took for granted seemed downright magical.
So, without even knowing what I didn’t know, I put our first set of actions up for sale in 2007. It seemed absurd to form a proper company. I was one guy, hawking a downloadable product from a spare bedroom in his house. The product had a name. The company selling it didn’t. But then a funny thing happened… People started buying it. Then they loved it and told their friends. The TRAs (Totally Rad Actions, as fans called them), were a hit, much to my surprise. Pretty soon, I was spending as much time on the Totally Rad Action Mix as I did on actual photography. I didn’t plan to be there, but the success was hard to ignore.
So we redesigned the website, released a second set of actions, then a texture plugin, then some Lightroom Presets. I hired someone to help keep our customers happy, and slowly, gradually, started treating it like a Real Business™. We had a kid. Then another. I stopped shooting weddings, and eventually quit trying to build a commercial portfolio. No time for any of it, and not much room left in a brain that was filled with ideas for software.
Finally, in 2010 – time to make a decision. Be a starving artist, taking pictures of old shoes in the desert, or focus on a company that can really make some cool stuff, and make thousands of photographers’ lives easier. I picked door #2. With the decision in place to go for it, I asked myself what our actions would look like if they weren’t handcuffed to Photoshop. What could actions be if they weren’t mere Photoshop Actions? Lots of soul-searching, sketching in a notebook, and research followed. I rented an office, hired an engineering team, incorporated the business, and focused for the following 14 months on RadLab.
Photoshop is the most powerful image editing application. Period. Photoshop is meant to do anything and everything for raster-based images, and it basically can. But it’s not a very intuitive way to get things done. The learning curve is impossibly high for most users, and the interface is built around 20 year-old UI paradigms. The transition to digital has been painful for most, and I’ll bet that learning Photoshop accounts for a big portion of that woe. Actions are a partial solution, but at the end of the day, Photographers are visual people. Numbers and formulas and words are no substitute for pictures.
My goal with Totally Rad is to slowly build a better way for photographers to get 95% of their work done (Photoshop will always have a place for the complicated 10%). Part of the joy of photography is in the exploration and the discovery of beauty in the world. I think the software can and should reflect that. I’d like to give photographers tools with depth and complexity, but which don’t require a phonebook-sized manual to learn. RadLab is a step in that direction. As the program matures, I think we can take it even further down that path. I think technology can do more than just give us new features as it advances. Software should adapt to the user, not force the user to adapt to it. Totally Rad’s future lies in making programs that are a joy to use, and that meet image-makers on their own terms. It’s a bold mission, but whether we become the next Adobe, or keep on truckin’ from our little office in OC, I think photographers win.
Thank you SO much Doug for being a guest blogger this week and for the insight into TRA.
To get TRA pre-sets, actions and the new RAD LAB click HERE.
To get your hands on some cool Totally Rad giveaways, check out The Wedding of Adriana Billings and Spencer Bradley.
If you see us wandering around Las Vegas or The Signature at MGM Grand next week, stop us and say HI! It makes everyone feel better…