If I were to make a prediction about trends to watch in 2011, the inclusion of original video pieces on blogs and online magazines would be at the top of the list. Video will be especially attractive to the more ambitious minded because of how challenging it is to produce. It’s a clear way to separate yourself from the herd.
But when we talk about video, what exactly are we talking about? As with the other posts in this series, the approaches differ between publishers and photographers.
The most common approach for publishers will be the interview profile. Sit a photographer down, let them talk about their work and splice it with a selection of photographs. These are effective for me because they’re generally quick, and allow the photographer to speak in their own voice. Plus, on video the photographer is forced to be more concise than in written interviews. There are benefits and drawbacks naturally but video also gives you that visceral human element which makes it more compelling. Seeing and hearing an interesting photographer speak is a magnetic experience that draws us deeper into their work.
Another interesting approach is to document the photographer at work in their natural environment. This requires a bit more dexterity with the camera and can become more involved since it’s basically a mini-documentary. But I think there’s a natural draw to these type of videos because the process of making photographs, especially of the “out in the world” variety can sometimes seem a bit baffling to people. For photographers, it often acts as a reinforcement about their own process, as well as a way to pick up specific tips.
Those two are probably the most common approaches, as well as the behind the scenes type videos that you often seen coming out of the commercial and fashion worlds.
But, what else can be done?
There’s also the audio visual OpEd approach which you can see at work in Daylight’s Sternfeld iDubai piece.
For photographers, the video challenge is much more daunting. Unless you’re a big dog pro with a name brand, I doubt you’re going to want to really point the camera at yourself. The tone and vibe becomes too narcissistic.
Not to mention, once you start down the video path, you begin to stray away from the photography path. For professional photojournalists, adding video skills is probably mandatory for future career success, although I think there’s a danger in diluting one’s skillset, but that’s a conversation for another day.
For me, what I’d find interesting would be a series that mixes first person videos from the field with the actual photographs. Show me the live scene and then show me how it’s represented in a photograph.
There certainly are more interesting ways to present work in video than the standard slideshow set to music that is often the default foray into video for many photographers.
Earlier in the year Jared Iorio and Alex JD Smith of strange.rs (of which I’m also a member) produced ‘The World on Its Side’ which included video elements that I thought were on the way to something interesting. The afterward they created was the piece that resonated with me the most.
Perhaps the most visible photographer making the foray into video on the web is the ubiquitous Alec Soth, whose Opinionator series on the New York Times has received plenty of buzz and commentary.
It’s an interesting time for photography and I’m looking forward to seeing how photographers use video and the web in the future. I’d like to highlight these efforts in the future, so please feel free to send me any suggestions – email@example.com
I think Susan Worsham’s Black Walnut Bride is probably a good way to bring this post to a close.