About James Cook

I have a seemingly odd combination of two long-term professions going; photography and software programming. They've often had separate yet simultaneous holds on my attention but have a significant intermingling most of the time.

Photography came first... I started with a Kodak Brownie in fourth grade and went on to degrees in both journalism and photojournalism at Southern Illinois University. For years I worked as a freelance photojournalist covering the Rocky Mountain Region, from my base in Denver, writing and shooting for the likes of Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Forbes and many others. Corporations often hired me to bring my editorial style to their marketing and reports.

When personal computers arrived on the scene it was a clear advantage to put one to work. I bought an early Macintosh then found out that it needed specialized software to do the things I wanted it to do. There was none. As a professional photographer I had needs beyond contacts and invoicing. What about keeping track of images? Licenses?

I learned how to set up a database. Then I connected it to another database and then,... at some point photographer friends became aware of my new tools and wanted copies. My second career was launched. The database evolved into a very complete photography business management program, selling for years to top photographers worldwide. It's still widely used, though no longer available.

Writing such a program required more and more expertise in business practices. My existing involvement in the American Society of Media Photographers lent itself well. I listened, I learned and I designed a system. My expertise grew, I became recognized and eventually served as a director then an officer in the organization. I traveled the country as a speaker for professional photography groups on a variety of photographic and technological topics.

My photography never stopped. I worked on a personal documentary of Native Americans. It gained some attention and PBS sent a film crew to Wounded Knee, South Dakota to film me at work. I was granted my 15 minutes of fame on national TV. In those days we used film and Kodak used some of the PBS footage in seminars around the country to flaunt my use of their products. The Smithsonian Institute purchased prints for display in their permanent collection for the National Museum of the American Indian. In 2022, the Holland Museum hosted an exhibit of 25 of my Contemporary Portraits of Native Americans.

Digital images and the internet changed everything in both professions. Assignments to professional photographers in the news business all but died. The news moved from print to the internet with instant reporting and photos from anywhere and everywhere. Fewer working photographers meant fewer sales of photo business software.

It wasn't instantaneous; but there were years with the writing clearly on the wall. The internet made it possible for me to apply my software skills from anywhere. My location was no longer critical for photography either. Saugatuck, Michigan was the place to pull me out of Colorado for a re-inventing. Along with my ever-supportive wife, Kat, I relocated to Saugatuck, Michigan in 2005 for a re-inventing.

In Saugatuck, I've kept busy with some long term custom programming projects. I've photographed the Lake Michigan lakeshore, Saugatuck Dunes and areas of West Michigan, including Native Americans of the region. The results have been exhibited in museums and galleries in the area and are available as fine art prints through GoodGoods in Saugatuck or via this website.



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