Obituary: Bruce Fraser, 1954-2006

By Ellis Vener

A universally respected and liked man, author and digital imaging expert Bruce Fraser's greatest contributions were perhaps behind the scenes as a consultant for companies like Adobe, Apple, Epson, GretagMacbeth, HP, Eastman Kodak, and X-Rite among others. Fraser died at home in the company of his wife and friends on December 16, 2006. He had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer earlier this year.

Fraser's work went to the very heart of what we do as photographers, and his was a defining voice in the evolution of Photoshop. He was able to address an abstruse, technical subject and explain it in a way that was both powerful and practical to use. As a lecturer and writer, Fraser directly influenced many photographers with the "Real World Adobe Photoshop" series (co-authored with David Blatner) and "Real World Color Management" (co-authored with Chris Murphy and Fred Bunting) books, and most recently "Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop CS2."

He lectured frequently and was a founding member of PixelGenius, LLC, where he designed the PhotoKit Expert Sharpener plug-in toolset and other PhotoKit products. Additionally, he was an associate editor at Macworld magazine and wrote the "Out of Gamut" column for In the field of photography he was a tireless advocate for use of the ProPhoto work space and 16-bit per channel capture and processing. He believed that photographers should be able to have the full resources a camera, software and printers are capable of producing.

"Bruce was a remarkable person," said photographer Greg Gorman. "He was a very generous spirit. He just just opened his heart to me. He was always kind, always there for me, and had a unique ability to make things more clear for me than anyone else could. You could not ask for a better teacher and he leaves a big hole that will never be filled."

"Bruce was absolutely instrumental in defining the color management UI (User Interface) and workflow in Photoshop 6," stated Mark Hamburg, former Adobe Photoshop engineer and current Adobe Lightroom engineering architect. "On a vast number of issues on both Photoshop and Lightroom, Bruce was either my primary source of advice or one of my primary sources. Bruce had a wonderful balance between understanding the technical issues and understanding the user perspective all wrapped up in a great sense of both humility and humor."

Friend and PixelGenius business partner Jeff Schewe affirms that Fraser was never one to boast of his own accomplishments, and that "he worked tirelessly behind the scenes with companies to ensure that technology was implemented in a manner that real-world users could actually use."

"Bruce was the most central and most productive among all of us who have worked to make imaging and color management work better for everybody," said nature photographer and color expert Joseph Holmes.   

Fine art photographer Christopher Campbell sees Fraser's contribution as being vital "at the moment when photography experienced a nearly unprecedented sea change, moving largely from the realm of film to digital capture. Bruce was perhaps the single most important figure in showing us how to make the transition … The legacy of Bruce's technical acumen will be found in the vast increase in expressive possibilities he has given to an entire generation of photographers."

Author and software developer Herb Paynter adds, "Most significantly to me … Bruce was a quiet, soft-spoken, gentle-handed, good man with an infectious and disarming smile. His sense of decency and aplomb compelled people to silence and to open their ears and minds. His manner just made you want to be around him. He was an extremely rational thinker, a serious student of technology, and a master communicator in spoken and written word. Bruce was the consummate individual. He didn't look like anyone else and he didn't talk like anyone else. He had little care for trendiness … Bruce Fraser was his own man. It was this combination of unique qualities that endeared him to everyone who read his books or heard him teach.

Shortly before his death, Fraser received the first Lifetime Achievement award from the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. He is survived by his wife, Angela, and numerous friends. A Buddhist, Fraser will be cremated and the ashes returned to his native Scotland. Bruce Fraser was 52 years old.

Thank you Bruce.

Please visit to read this post from Jeff Schewe.


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Comments (3)

Bob Roberts:

I was first introduced to Bruce Fraser through PEI mag. Maybe it would be nice to have the past editors, those who knew him the most, to contribute to the Fraser memorial.

Manuel Ramirez:

I´m really sorry about his death,I never met him but i learn a lot trought his books and articles
a valuable profesional

Ellis Vener:

Bob, That's af ine idea. I only met Bruce a couple of times. I know that Andrew Rodney , a former PEI editor among other things, and others who knew him very well are hard at work on a tribute to Bruce that wioll be delivered in January.


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