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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old May 26th, 2003, 12:45 AM   #1
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Photographer or Videographer?

I have been (and still am) a professional photographer (stills) since 1987. About 7 years ago I added videography to my professional services. To me, I am a photographer no matter what camera I am making pictures with, still or video. This seems to be a bit of a gray area in our business, am I wrong in thinking we are all photographers? I have shot a lot of Beta and all of the Beta shooters I work with consider themselves photographers. The broadcast industry considers us photographers. When I am asked, how do I become a video guy? My one line reply is, learn photography. My second line should be dont call yourself a video guy, you are a photographer. Am I wrong?

One more thought to fuel the fire of discussion:

Another observation of mine is that:

1. Technology has made still photography so easy that there are many still photographers charging for there work (pro-ams) and taking good pictures even though they dont understand much of the technical teachings of the past. Why, because they learned the basics of still photography how to take a beautiful picture.

2. In video the reverse seems to be true. I never cease to be amazed by the technical ability and knowledge of some video shooters. Sometimes I am just as amazed when the same person that can dazzle with technical knowledge comes back to me and hands me a reel that does not have a descent shot on it. It is devoid of the basics that make up good photography.

Thoughts on this?
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Old May 26th, 2003, 12:56 AM   #2
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Good observations. I think part of that might be due to the fact that it's much simpler to take a photo with the most expensive medium-format camera than it is to shoot a film with an Arri and a tripod. When you're taking a photo, you only have to concentrate on one frame, so people are naturally more attentive to what they're shooting, whereas the goal with a lot of amateur videographers seems to be "keep the subject somewhere in the viewfinder and you'll be fine." It's easy to get lost in the technical knowledge of your video camera and not know anything about shooting.

I think it would be a good idea teaching people photography first before giving them a video camera!

The main thing should be being able to compose without thinking; if your mind can compose a good picture 30 times every second, then you're set!
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Old May 26th, 2003, 01:12 AM   #3
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Alex - I agree about teaching good photography skills first. All of the technical knowledge in the world cannot fix a poorly composed shot. I read a lot here but rarely post because I don't want to sound arrogant or stupid, to be honest. I am usually overwhelmed by the knowledge and professionalism here.

I will offer this advise on the subject:

My video mentor said to me As a still photographer you had to get one great frame for every shoot. This is video, now you must get 30 great frames a second (Im still trying).

Steve
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Old May 26th, 2003, 01:18 AM   #4
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I find video easier to shoot than pictures, however, there's always room for improvement (video and stills). Video is more forgiving I think, plus a lot of its magic is done on a computer.
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Old May 26th, 2003, 01:49 AM   #5
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I agree having good photography skills will make you a better cinema/videographer. I'm not professional but I consider myself a photographer first.

Having had this discussion before, I submit this to you, for debate:

It's all photography ... until you start learning how to use camera movement in your movies/videos effectively, then it becomes cinema/videography.

My reasoning is that up until you start moving the video camera it's all about composition - which is basically photography. It's only when you start moving the camera itself (crane/dolly, pans, pull focus etc) that you really start using the language of the cinema/video.

watcha think?
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Old May 26th, 2003, 02:21 AM   #6
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From what I have seen and experienced so far, if the person has photography background they have a really hard time to stop thinking in a "single frame" way.

What I mean is that they set up the camera, compose a great slick looking frame and then let the action play out in front of lens, but moving the camera and actually use it, is a rarity. Of course there are people who can do both without a problem.

Frank, sorry, I have to disagree with you on this one. It's not easier at all, to shoot great looking footage with a video/film camera since you have movement in it, and you have to light and/or compose for a full range of images. Also what you can do in post production is saving bad footage but not make it good or great. If you want real magic, you have to plan for it before shooting.
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Old May 26th, 2003, 02:47 AM   #7
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>If you want real magic, you have to plan for it before shooting.<

I couldn't agree with you more. However, sometimes near perfect planning is impossible. That's when one's skill and experience take over. The important thing is to trust oneself. If that fails, take it as a learning experience. Remember that bad portions can be cut out or fixed in post. What I do, is just cut them out.
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Old May 26th, 2003, 03:36 AM   #8
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Frank, I looked at from a narrative film perspective, then it's not as easy, but if you do other than that, then I agree with you.
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Old May 26th, 2003, 03:45 AM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Akos Szemenyei :
What I mean is that they set up the camera, compose a great slick looking frame and then let the action play out in front of lens, but moving the camera and actually use it, is a rarity. -->>>

And some people do this as a carefully thought shooting style opposed to the fast and meaninglessly moving videography of today. Used together with a calm edit and long takes it might work like a charm.

I recall Shyamalan's "Signs" being shot at least a bit like this.
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Old May 26th, 2003, 04:02 AM   #10
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Jami, of course if you choose that style, and fits the movie or whatever, you can and should use it. I'm just talking about that no matter whether it fits the movie, music video, commercial or not, they tend to choose a more static approach, and forget even to pan or tilt the camera even though it looks "strange" without it.
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Old May 26th, 2003, 07:59 AM   #11
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There are similarities between photography and video. You need to use framing, composition, and lighting to enhance your subject. As a photographer, you learn exposure, and what it does to the image you capture, just like the videographer. But, that is where it ends.

As already stated, a photgrapher is only interested in the one fraction of a second, when he captures that frame. A videographer has much more to deal with, as his subjects are in motion, and there is also sound to combine with what he is capturing. So no, they are not the same.

But what if you do both? What do you call yourself? How about "Artistic Imaging Consultant"?
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Old May 26th, 2003, 10:21 AM   #12
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"But what if you do both? What do you call yourself? How about "Artistic Imaging Consultant"

When you do both, you call yourself "Herb Ritts." Herb was a great fashion photographer of celebrities, and you have probably seen his work in books, Rolling Stone, fashion magazines, just about everywhere, including museum shows. He was incredibly well respected.

Herb Ritts also became a music video director as a natural adjunct from his still photography. He created stunning videos that were marked with gorgeous people, be they subjects like Janet Jackson or Madonna, or the fabulous "characters" that peopled the videos. I'm especially thinking of an early JJ video he did that featured a very tall sinuous, black male on the beach. That should be enough description to call it to mind.

Herb also did a video with Janet and Michael Jackson together, and they never looked better. That was his trademark; making people look good. And to that end, what Herb Ritts understood was, that its all about the light.

Herb Ritts was a major talent, and a nice human being, who will be sorely missed. You can find books by Herb Ritts at all good book stores. And if we are lucky, maybe one day they will release, "The Herb Ritts Collection" on video.
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Old May 26th, 2003, 10:29 AM   #13
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but what about Pornographers? *grinz*
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Old May 26th, 2003, 10:34 AM   #14
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I do both still photography and video. They are equally challenging and rewarding. But different in so many ways. The advantage to video is that the images and sound acquired on tape can be mixed in post to produce something of value (in most cases). The entire production doesn't have to be perfect to a "T".

Still film, on the other hand, requires that the photographer capture that slice in time and do it perfectly. If the shot is poorly composed, out of focus, or exposed improperly there isn't much you can do. Digital helps a little but each image must stand on it's own and be judged that way. Imagine what it would be like if each frame of video had to be perfect and no "fix it in post."
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Old May 26th, 2003, 10:41 AM   #15
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1. i agree... the differecnce however is taht post produciton work is probably 10% less than the video producer..
on top of that, clients are a lil more strict when it comes to video as its not as accepted as Still Photography...
Weddings for example.... video is waht actaulyl captures the activities of teh day, hwoever many people dont see it thsi way, as their conceptions of "video" is more akin to home video...
and finally, still photographers can charge exhuberant amounts of money while "videographers" can only stick within a certain bracket, else they lose teh client...
even though teh video producer is actualy doin ALOT more work and uses many more tools than the still photographer in the end the video producer misses out due to public acceptance...

One way to be accepted, is to have good footage and good editing. Having an IDEA of teh fundamentals of lighting, imagery, and production are of the utmost importance...


2. In video the reverse seems to be true. I never cease to be amazed by the technical ability and knowledge of some video shooters. Sometimes I am just as amazed when the same person that can dazzle with technical knowledge comes back to me and hands me a reel that does not have a descent shot on it. It is devoid of the basics that make up good photography.

((I totally agree.. i have had many potential clients shy away from my services as they beleive that by going to a big name Videographer with a big ugly camera would get them better results.. the end results however are far from impressive and they end up coming back requesting that i "re-do" their video.
its one thing to have tool, its another thing knowing how to use them.
Im afraid not many people do...
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