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.
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…??)