Thursday, June 23, 2016


We are, apparently, seeing more and more video "out there." This isn't something I have much of an opinion on, except as follows.

Allen Murabayashi, blogging over at photoshelter, has a couple of salient recent pieces, here and here. Allen is a sharp guy. I don't read his blog regularly because the content isn't consistently interesting to me, but he's always smart, and often writes insightfully about things I do care about.

I think he's missing it in these, though. At least partially.

There's this general idea that video is the new photography, as if it's kind of the natural evolutionary next step.

The essential difference between a video clip and a photograph is that the author controls the pacing, the rate at which you consume. The photograph, as I have noted endlessly, can be read in an instant, and contemplated at leisure. The video clip demands that you watch the whole thing, and once it's over, it's over. You can replay it, but you cannot contemplate it in the way you can a still photograph.

Moving on from video clips, those little singular elements of video, to a produced movie-like-object. These, as everyone knows, combine multiple elements. Clips of motion picture, text, audio, stills, etc. These are placed in a sequence. The effect is a little like a book, except that once again we find that the author controls the pacing rather than the "reader." Yes, yes, you can control things to one degree or another, but the default is simply to consume at the pace set by the creative who made the thing. The book, on the other hand, is paced by the consumer. There is a default ordering given, and some relative pacing set by the density of material on each page, but these only guide the reader's choices. You can read a book backwards if you like.

Video is, in essential ways, a more passive experience for the viewer than still photography. You can, if you choose, simply sit there slackjawed, consuming video after video. The smarter sites cue up new videos for you automatically. If you've made it all the way through one, you're properly stunned and should stay that was as long as the stimulation keeps coming.

Advertisers, of course, love video. Controlling the pacing is awesome when you want to control the message. Advertisers love online video regardless of source, because it's a natural home for video advertising to live in, and they love video advertising. Advertisers love the passive receptivity of the video viewer.

Video is simply different. It may become the dominant online medium, or not, or whatever. I neither know nor care. But it's not the evolution of still photography, it's something else entirely. It resembles still photography somewhat less than painting does. The fact that you make it with the same, or similar, equipment seems to be causing the collective consciousness to conflate video with still photography.

1 comment:

  1. "The fact that you make it with the same, or similar, equipment seems to be causing the collective consciousness to conflate video with still photography." Good point. And the skills required to create the two different types of art (for want of a better word) are not the same, beginning but not ending with the fact that video most often involves collaboration.