A few things have caught my attention lately. I mean really caught my attention. One was the great chat we had with my friend Rosh Sillars on how to price a gig in the new economy, and the other was his discussion we had off mic about photographers being able to do more than just a still image.
Now before anyone gets their feathers all ruffled out of place and sheds them all over the carpet, let me explain that I love and worship at the sanctity of the still image. I think it is my favorite form of art. And I will continue to develop my skills toward that end, hoping to become pretty good at it someday.
But just as changes in the way jobs are billed is becoming something to think about, so is the offering we make to our clients. Possibly this is something for you to think about as well.
Channels of creative output. Plural… ChannelS…
I have always been afflicted with a high degree of ADD (thank the Lord) and it keeps me looking for things to do and creativity to work with. I am a designer and a writer as well as a photographer. I play the drums (once good enough to be in a band or three… these days I simply scare the cats) and am learning how to play ‘standards’ with a jazz groove on the Tenor Sax.
I make money from photography, designing and writing. The other stuff is for fun, but I practice pretty hard. Ask the cats.
We all know that video is now a staple of the digital DSLR, the Mirrorless cameras, P&S and phones as well. Video is the newest channel to offer itself up for our additional channel of creativity.
A lot of us do not want to get into video for variety of reasons… some good. Some rather stupid. Mine have been on the ‘rather stupid’ column for too long. I need to add motion to my work, and the more I see of this new intersection of stills/video/writing the more I see how I must integrate it into what I do.
Do I want to make movies? Nope. Nor do I want to do commercials… but… still shots that move… yeah, that kind of has me intrigued.
And that intrigue took a big dose this week when I stumbled upon “Hollow” a Documentary about a single county in West Virginia. Once the richest county in America it now rates as one of the poorest counties.
A group of writers, photographers, audio techs, videographers, cinematographers and producers descended onto this unique place in the universe and produced a fascinating look into the places and lives that make up this small, rural, extremely poor county.
Through the use of the medium of a website, the power of ‘scrolling’ and visuals that ensnare the sensibilities, this ‘experience’ piece simply knocked me into a new mindset.
I must learn more about the video/motion side of things. This type of thing is one of the directions I would like to go… story telling. Rich, fantastic, sensory story telling.
A rich blend of audio, video and still photography, Hollow is the new direction for long form story telling.
Using Parallax scrolling the images move vertically and horizontally and slowly reveal more and more content to the viewer.
See more at Hollow Documentary. (Be prepared to spend some time.)
Another example of this deep story telling is found on the (now famous) NYT website. It is called “Snowfall” and tells the story of an avalanche in Washington that killed several snowboarders. The in-depth reporting, character studies, charts, graphs, video and stills bring life to a long content text piece. Where Photojournalism is going, I believe.
Take a look at this one about a shipwrecked boat and the Geopolitical importance of it. “A Game of Shark and Minnow” mixes journalism, blogging, photography and video into an in-depth look at this very interesting, and possibly explosive area of the world.
While “Snowfall” was one of the first of this type of presentation, and represented hundreds of hours of work, we can now do them rather quickly and with less effort with WordPress and the many different plugins available.
Here is a post on one of my favorite blogs, Elegant Themes, about the new forms of Storytelling using WordPress.
And here is a plugin for WordPress that facilitates this type of technology… for free. The “Aesop” story engine allows nearly anyone with a WordPress website to produce a content/media rich story. And that can be a game changer for some of us.
So how does this impact us still shooters?
Well, it does give us some new channels for creating imagery. It allows us to show our story telling abilities if that is something we want to do.
And it gives us a unique way to show a portfolio, to show our work as a ‘story’ instead of a group of disparate images.
A food shooter may choose to do a ‘story’ on a fictional (or non-fictional) area and illustrate it with wonderful still shots, some video of pouring wine or cheese tray fun… add some audio recorded on his iPhone with RODE mics and we have something different, something more robust… for simply showing the still shots.
A fashion shooter could have a ‘documentary’ of the prep of the shoot (and not a cheesy BTS video of the makeup artist painting lip liner… give it a rest, will ya…) along with audio and text… then show the images that were created much in the same way a portfolio would be shown now.
Introducing a product / portrait portfolio with some audio, some BTS, a few shots of the photographer at work, some video of the careful placement of props… then the still shots. Or intersperse them with video intros of preparing the shoot.
CAVEAT: We are not talking about videos that exist to show other photographers how to use a boom or the 10 smart ways to make a white background ‘pop’… we are showing clients what it is like to work with us, our attention to detail, our commitment to excellence while still having a fun and relaxed environment.
The stuff that beginners and CL shooters don’t do. We set ourselves apart with the way we present our work.
(And we subtly introduce the idea that we do motion into the mind of the buyer… heh. See what I did there?)
Look, I don’t want to tell you what to do. I only want to introduce you to my ideas and things that I think could really work out for creating something new, something different and possibly more interesting than what we are doing now.
I suggest you develop better writing skills, video (motion) skills and think about the different ways you can present your work… tell a story, even about telling the story.
Until next time… make photos.