When Photographers Make Videos

We’ve been examining videos in our Multimedia class, looking minutely at shots, flow of action, angles.  We’ve watched editors work, heard their voices, started to really appreciate what goes in to the making of any kind of movie.  Blood, sweat and tears people.

And I’ve been thinking more and more about the different aesthetic or style that a photographer would bring to the making of a movie.  Would the individual shots be even more composed?  More thoughtful?  Would the story flow as smoothly and succinctly?

Following are three very different examples of what happens when photographers make videos.  These are three people that I keep going back to over and over.  These videos stay with me.  I think about them.  I find them beautiful.

1.  Something I found on the Burn Magazine site.  An American photographer who has been living in South Africa since the 1970s, Roger Ballen, who took his photographic style and applied it to video.  His photographs have been described as dark, controversial, important, exploitative and beautiful.  He made this incredible, weird, disturbing, fascinating music video and I can’t get enough of it.

Related links:
Interview with Lens Culture

2.  A video that I first saw through my first semester instructor, Michael Schwarz’s,  website.  Photographer: Adam Ferguson.  A war/conflict photographer that reflects on his experience through a monologue and display of stills.  Lovely, enticing, interesting, mesmerizing.  I’ve watched this multiple times and still get chills.
You can view it at the VII site here: War Is Boring

3.  Last but most certainly not least.  Zackary Canepari.  I’ve been following him for the last couple years and he’s one of the most interesting and inspiring photographers I’ve come across.   He’s recently gone from straight photography to making documentary shorts about interesting characters and situations he finds in his home-state of California.  One example follows:


Related links:
California is a place


I call this productivity.

An hour and a half.  We made a video.  Shot it [at least ten different shots], edited and uploaded.

Yes, it might seem like nothing actually happens.  But this was our first video.  SO MUCH HAPPENED!


warm-blooded, cool-headed

Is it warm?  Is it cool?  YES.

Assignment for all photography students: A found situation, both warm and cool tones incorporated.  Capture it.  Edit it.  Print it.  Present for critique.

I had an idea for what I wanted.  An image captured, right at dusk or dawn, when the light is blue and hazy and your eyes are having to adjust.  A window or doorway leading in to a warm, inviting cozy place.

I went out Tuesday evening, 6:30ish, when the light had already faded quite a bit.  I found the situation I was looking for – yellow light inside, cool light out.  I took a bunch of pictures within five minutes, and because of the speed of the changing light, each one was completely different.  Amazing.  Light.  Our ever-inspiring and ever-challenging muse.

The image I selected:

Images from earlier in the week that didn’t quite make the cut:

James Nachtwey

The third Dresden International Peace Prize was awarded on Feb. 11.   Recipient?  James Nachtwey, celebrated war/conflict photographer. Nachtwey was also the subject of a truly inspiring documentary by Christian Frei, War Photographer.

As Oscar-nominated director Wim Wenders said on presenting the prize to Nachtwey, “If a war photographer is awarded a Peace Prize, furthermore in a city once devastated by a war, then he must be a very special person and a truly extraordinary photographer.”

“War is a huge, infernal industry, the largest one on this planet. It seems presumptuous for one man to attempt to stand in the way of this machinery. Once war has broken out, everything spirals out of control almost immediately, turning even the armies and the soldiers who fight in it into helpless onlookers, victims of their own hubris. Who would dare then to oppose it and put it into perspective with mere… photographs. Who would seriously deploy cameras against tanks!”

“Actually, the act of photographing is a very lonely job. You are mostly left to your own devices, especially when war is raging around you or hunger and death are haunting the land. But these photographs here all have one thing in common, an “attitude”, a point of view, the photographer’s awareness – whatever we call it – of standing where he is for others of seeing on behalf of others, of exposing himself, and of giving testimony, for others.”

Full remarks are here.


detectives make … videos???

Ok, so I’ve never even really thought about making a video.  Not a real video.  That has a story and EDITING and all that other stuff.  But I’m being forced, hands tied, into the future, ie, the 21st century.  In my multimedia class, on the second day nonetheless, we filmed what we would later, individually, edit into short movies.

Following is my attempt.

MY VERY FIRST ATTEMPT at editing ever.   Plus there was this deadline thing.  Plus I could only edit on the computers at school.  Plus, I still don’t know how to make sound match and fade, etc.   Ok.  No more excuses.

Monopod, Bam!

Sally Mann

She uses the view camera.  It’s her thing.  5×7 sometimes.  8×10 a lot of the time.  She uses the 19th century collodian process to get her images – using chemically-laden glass, developing in a makeshift darkroom she carries around in her truck.  Sally Mann.  She’s amazing.

I fell in love with her images in college, where I stumbled upon her book – Deep South – by accident in the library.  The images in this book…. They’re haunting, melodic even.  If you can apply that word to images.  Which, with her, you can.  She takes landscape photography and turns it into visual poetry.  This is the South, I thought when I first saw these pictures.  A place that you breathe in, that you experience in your skin and your nose and your mouth.  And she takes this experience and puts it on a flat plane, on a piece of paper.

For my birthday this year my sister got me this book.  Now I sit and look at it when I’m feeling frustrated or down.  A little inspiration for us today.  When we start to think the view camera is a useless, obsolete piece of junk from a different century, well.  Maybe it is.  Or maybe it’s what you make of it.  She makes beauty.  We can aspire.

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And for those of you that are super into her, I found this rather long video of images from this book set to perfectly complimentary music.