Why Photographers Should Shoot Video

Posted by on Dec 1, 2012 in Food For Thought, Videos | 7 Comments

In November, I attended an interesting seminar on filmmaking by the folks of stillmotion. The presenters asked the attendees to share by show of hands how many of those present considered themselves photographers as opposed to cinematographers or videographers (yes, there’s a difference says stillmotion). I was surprised to find myself not surprised by how many photographers were present. If you pause and think about it for a second, why would photographers be at such an event? Don’t you need fancy gear with names suggestive of secret sports-moves like ‘sliders’, ‘pocket dollies’ and ‘T-mounts’? I mean, we photographers deal with stills for heaven’s sake, discrete moments in time that, even when you string several together in a row, still reveal small gaps just like pearls on a string.

stillmotion homepage

Stillmotion’s website

So why was I surprised to not be surprised? Because when you think about it, actually photographers are perfectly poised to delve into the world of motion pictures. The best photographers capture stories in the sparest way possible — nothing is in that single frame that doesn’t add to the idea we’re trying to convey. We can’t rely on fancy movements to keep the viewer interested; we have to use our knowledge of light and composition to get to the heart of the story every time we click the shutter. All this means we should be able to take what we know about light, composition, point-of-view, sense of place, mastery of time and working in colour and tone and take the step from one still to the thousands that make up a motion picture.

Technology has made a potential videographer out of almost every photographer. But I think photographers can do more than just video-record a bunch of stills in succession: I think we can use our cameras to tell powerful stories, to be cinematographers. The talent at stillmotion are versatile story-tellers, but they never lose focus of their goal of creating great stories.

I think here at oopoomoo we’ll be turning our cameras toward moving stories more and more in the coming months. (Now if only I can get Darwin to memorize his lines! Any suggestions…??)

About the Author

Photographing the incredible beauty of natural things, filming quirky videos, trying new foods with unpronounceable names, curling up with a good book, sharing ideas on how to live lighter on the Earth...these are a few of my favourite things!


  1. Roni Barrett
    December 1, 2012

    Well, that’s interesting! I think I made my tiny contribution to the world of video, as a photographer, when I used my lovely Canon 60D to make a couple of very short clips of the methane bubbles dancing around under the newly-forming ice on the N. Saskatchewan river after Darwin’s photo tour a fortnight ago…but perhaps that doesn’t actually count! The stills didn’t convey the magic of the bubbles which I knew I’d want to see again when I got home.

    • Samantha
      December 1, 2012

      Awesome, Roni! I know I’ve tried to capture the ‘dancing bubbles’ on the lake, and also the crystals of snow that get blown across in those high winds…so far, I feel like it’s eluded me as well when I just shoot stills. It’s interesting to see how video is different from stills, and how you may need to change your approach a little bit. But having that foundation as a photographer helped you see the potential in those bubbles, I bet!

  2. Brad Mangas
    December 1, 2012

    The videos you two have made have always been entertaining and I look forward to more. But I must say I hope you don’t actually “move away” from photography, to me photography is still a stronger medium of expression. And most importantly, have fun and do it because you enjoy it.

    • Samantha
      December 1, 2012

      Have no fear, Brad…photography is our bread and butter! What I find fun is using whatever media seems to suit the matter at hand for the best end product. Your point about doing what you enjoy is spot on.

  3. Jane Chesebrough
    December 1, 2012

    Do a story about something that you are passionate about. Jasper National Park and commercialisation. Wildlife habitat. Land. I still have images from the beach stuck in my head from “The Black Stallion” from years ago.you can mix stills in with the moving pictures. What’s the matter, didn’t you two have enough to carry with you yet? :)

    • Samantha
      December 1, 2012

      Ha ha! Yes, we do! But the stillmotion folks showed just how much you can accomplish with a dSLR, a couple of prime lenses and a monopod…. I’ll have to speak for myself on this one, but I don’t want to go around like a cyborg with a bunch of huge equipment hooked onto my face. Yeah… stealthy…that’s me…. ;)

  4. Scott Dimond
    December 1, 2012

    > Now if only I can get Darwin to memorize his lines! Any suggestions…??

    You could try slipping Nootropics into his food or if all else fails, just throw money at the problem: