Dear Photographers: Welcome to video

The media-making process is a continuous collision between creative ideation and technical implementation. In order to be proficient as a video producer, one must develop the ability to work within multiple skill sets that do not naturally coexist in the psyches of most humans. Producers need the ability to tell stories and communicate concepts that connect with their intended audiences, but they must simultaneously possess a prowess for the technical aspects of the production process.

The most effective producers are able to move artfully between left-brain and right-brain thought processes. They must leverage camera and computer technology to create visually appealing images and sequences. They must capture and hold a viewer’s attention and communicate a compelling message that elicits the intended response from the viewing audience. Some of these skills come more naturally than others depending on how the producer is wired.

Generally speaking, people tend to come to video production — whether as a hobby or as a profession — as either visually- or technically-minded. While a balance of both is ultimately needed, one’s starting point has a distinct influence on how each person produces. People who make digital media typically come from one of two broad starting points: those who come with an interest in cameras as shooters, and those who come from an interest in building and using computers. Today I want to welcome and celebrate the shooters in our midst; specifically, those videographers who began with an interest in still photography.  

In many ways those who come to video production with a background in photography have a head start in the video production arena.

In many ways those who come to video production with a background in photography have a head start in the video production arena. Since they have experience creating visual images, they likely already know the core concepts behind the artistry of capturing beautiful video in the camera. Photographers bring with them an understanding of lighting and lenses and shot composition that can make their shooting inherently more cinematic straight out of the gate.

The rise in popularity of DSLR shooting gives yet another advantage to photographers who move into full-motion video production. SLR and DSLR photographers bring with them a familiarity with F-stops and shutter speeds, ISOs and lens controls, composition and lens compression. Of course shooting still photography itself involves a command of both the technical and creative minds. The understanding of how to use camera controls to influence the look and feel of a still photo transfers directly to shooting visually compelling video.

While these advantages are very tangible, still photographers transitioning to shooting moving video may struggle with some other aspects of video more than those who come to video without having first shot stills. Photographers often only need a couple of good shots from a shoot for the session to be considered a success. Videographers need most of their shots to be good for the shoot to have been a success. Photo models have to look good as captured in a single, posed, moment in time and can be coached in real-time as they change poses, positions and expressions. Video talent needs to look good over many minutes of screen time while moving within a scene, and must also perform well in delivering lines and manipulating props without real-time verbal coaching during a take. Sequencing shots and the editing process can also be challenges for transitioning photographers, who must rewire their thinking to shoot shots that stitch together to establish a scene while maintaining continuity of motion.

The video production community is truly a melting pot of people from a variety of creative and technical backgrounds. I am glad to have former (and current) photographers season the pot with their unique eye for creating visually stunning shots.

Matthew York
Matthew York
Matt York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.

Related Content