Videography as a Photographer

It seems crazy to say, but video production has always seemed daunting to me as a photographer. Not just the different terminology and technicalities, but the scale of the task involved in a single production. The editing alone, working through footage and keeping track of it all, seems a significant undertaking for all but the shortest films. The planning and preparation too, storing and organizing the footage, anticipating the angles and transitions and timing. Selecting a soundtrack and considering how that will connect and interact with the images and other audio.

But the appeal is becoming greater too. As I've worked more on projects and sequences of images, learning more about story and structure and connections between images, there's a power and potential in videography that's very different to photography even if some of the concepts are similar.

I think the mindset is largely different too. I've often assumed that I could use the same compositional techniques, the same framing, the same visual clues, to shoot video as I do to photograph still images. And there is some truth in that. Often I see a frame in a good movie or show that would easily stand alone as a strong still image.

But often I find, for me at least at the moment, it doesn't work. The motion isn't interesting enough or doesn't convey what I want it to, or the camera needs to be moving itself. Or it's just a clip, too short to convey much in video form. Which seems strange to think that a single still image can convey more than a short clip of video, but I think that's true. A still image takes a moment, freezes time, allows us to explore the details, the expressions. When set in motion, we need more time, more explanation or information or context. To create effective video, you usually have to know in advance what story you want to tell. Often in photography, street photography in particular but it could be documentary or landscape or events too, the story only becomes apparent later, as you analyze the images.

So video becomes more like an extended photo project. A series, a compilation of images and scenes, whether they are motion or still. And that’s the type of work that I find myself wanting to do more. To explore stories and issues that are much greater in scope than any single image.

It’s going to take a lot of time and energy (and probably a few dollars) to properly dive into videography and maybe I’ll still always favor photography in the end, but I'm sure it's going to be a lot of fun too.

(And to any experienced videographers out there, any tips are most welcome!).


Bushwick, Brooklyn

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Headshot, portrait, street and documentary photographer in NYC and Jersey City

alastair.arthur@gmail.com

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