Wednesday, January 15, 2020

I Do Not Want to Do Video!

Tribal elder, Mayalan Village, Northern Guatemala

As the business of commercial photography changes with the times, more and more photographers are reorienting their businesses to add video production services, and some are even switching over to video entirely.

Frankly, this makes me glad I’m late in my career. My dedication has always been to the still image and I don't want to do video!

I got my start in the early 1970s, working for a film production company that did   what used to be called industrial movies, short films which were mostly used for sales and promotion.  However, our bread and butter was filmstrips (older readers may remember them), mostly for food service employee training. It was an interesting time for me, and a different world.

(A filmstrip, for the uninitiated, is a sequence of still photographs on one strip of film, usually with a soundtrack, and shown by means of a projector.)

Boy with puppy, Mayalan Village

After a stint with another company as director of advertising, I opened my own photography and production business in 1978, majoring in slide shows and filmstrips, but not movies. I did, among other things, 36 filmstrips for the Krystal hamburger chain, teaching employees how to do everything from cooking the burgers to cleaning the toilets; and more than 60 promotional and fund-raising filmstrips for Church of God World Missions.

By 1985, many of the A-V programs I did were set up as three-projector slide shows playing on one screen with dissolve effects, and transferred to videocassette for distribution. I loved that medium, and really thought it would last. But by the end of 1990, all was swept away as the world converted to video. I firmly believed, and still believe, that a sequence of still photographs is a better teaching/training tool for most things than video.

But I tried video for a couple of years and absolutely hated it, so I re-invented myself as a commercial photographer.

Young scholar, Mayalan Village

A few years ago, as the digital age advanced and I saw more and more work going to amateurs and semi-pros with automated cameras, I decided to find specialties that were as safe as possible from those people. I chose the dual disciplines of architecture and business headshots, both of which require lighting skills a bit more advanced than flash-on-camera. Fortunately, those specialties are also the most impervious to the encroachment of video.

As I get older and no longer need or care to call on art directors less than half my age, I'm finding my final refuge in photographing and writing for books and magazine articles. I believe in the power of the still image and absolutely do not want to do video.

And now I don't have to.

If you would like to see a sample of a still-photo-based audio-visual program, check this one out:

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