Photographers Can Bring a Fresh Eye to Video

At my design and branding agency, we produce a fair amount of video, and we have always worked with DPs from the film world or shooters with years of video experience.

Now, for the first time, we’ve begun to look to still photographers to handle some of our videography needs. It’s not that traditional film and video shooters have done anything wrong; we’re just intrigued by the idea that photographers may bring something new to the table.

We’ve come close on a couple of recent occasions to starting video projects with photographers. We almost produced an independent film with photo icon Chip Simons, for example. And we’ve been intrigued by the work of Derek Dudek. I fully expect our first photographer-produced video project to happen in 2008.

Video content has exploded as fast as dial-up has turned to broadband. Audiences are watching video produced by everyone from teenagers to grandmas to film legends. More than ever, it’s important to have a product that stands out from the crowded mediascape of the Internet.

In this context, more commercial photographers are experimenting with video. Lines are being blurred.

Why the influx of photographers as video shooters? Maybe it’s because the marketplace is more crowded than before, and work isn’t is as plentiful for all photographers. Maybe it’s because they’re bored. Or maybe they’re shooting video because they can. There are several factors that I believe opened the door:

  • Pro-sumer equipment is capable of producing stellar quality productions. Or at least stuff that’s better than what the teenagers are doing.
  • Digital media tools have blurred the lines between photographer, producer, designer and artist.
  • Audience expectations have changed dramatically — and production qualities have been “dumbed down.” Not everything requires a $100K+ shoot budget anymore.
  • The most important delivery mediums are no longer theaters or televisions. (This Internet thing is pretty popular.)

We are excited about these changes — and photographers should be, too. Photographers who shoot video have the opportunity to approach a project with fresh energy and vision. The creativity of a student trying something for the first time, combined with the wisdom and experience of a professional who has delivered quality product in the still world.

Photographers have uniquely talented eyes. Because most haven’t shot video for their entire careers, they’re not tainted by decades of “how things have always been done.” It’s possible that a video shot or produced by someone more accustomed to standing behind a still camera could take on a distinctive quality in its framing, lighting, and style. Not that video producers aren’t capable of achieving this, but a photographer might approach it in a new way.

Certainly, there may be times when only a film or video professional will do. Film shoots, high-def shoots and/or projects that require in-depth knowledge or complex equipment, crews and practices, for example.

But for many video projects — particularly those where you’re looking to shoot something just a little bit different from what you’ve done before — why not try a photographer? That’s our plan for 2008.


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