video reportage is formulaic, reductive and relatively artless- still photography is pure freedom

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Video will NEVER replace the still image. The reductive power of the breathtaking image will remain — it’s instantaneous, unobtrusive yet IN YOUR FACE. Video… you have to press a button. And you have to engage your ears. An image can convey that story in a microsecond. It’s an illustration, whereas the video is the article. I’ve been a broadcast film and tv producer, and it’s just not the same. Plus, you never, EVER get the intimacy of a photograph with video.

via Robert Benson.

There Are 10 Comments On This Article.

  1. I agree.

    The question for me is, will video replace the still vision? Will we continue to trust photographers to capture the scene with their vision, or rely on grabbing that moment from a video capture?

  2. I’m somewhere in the middle. Still imagery can be incredibly formulaic too, just look at how many photographers turn up for “big” events like the Haiti earthquake or the Olympics. The result is a lot of cliched imagery.

    Also, there is a big difference between video journalism, which is the crap they show on the nightly news, and documentary films, which can be just as powerful as still imagery.

    Both are good, both have their place. I think photographers that keep touting how great still images keep repeating it as if to convince themselves, because they are fearful of video…

  3. Both media have strengths and weaknesses. In some cases a single still image tells the story better than video.

    The Eddie Adams still of general Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner tells the story better than video.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nguy%E1%BB%85n_Ng%E1%BB%8Dc_Loan#Prisoner_execution

    On the other hand one of the greatest football plays of all time, the Franco Harris immaculate reception, really can’t be told without video. A still image of any point in that play doesn’t tell the story. The story is the sequence of events.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xMDIcsUMmA

    There is always going to be excellence, and triteness in both still and video.

  4. Creating a still that can ‘stop the world’ only takes a camera phone. Creating a video that has the same impact and lasting cultural value is much harder to do on limited resources. The arrival of incredibly cheap high quality video on DSLR cameras is yet to yield a few seconds of imagery as good as the cutting room floor sweepings from Werner Herzog’s holiday movies.

    For this reason, I think the still will remain a democratic and lasting part of culture, even if its viewed on an iPad instead of in a magazine.

  5. I see the importance and lasting impact through both mediums. But I have grown quite tired of photographers (and I am a photographer) who think that freezing a moment is intrinsically artistic. Photographers are a funny bunch, not ha-ha, but funny in an odd way. Big heads too many times for what the end result is, just a photograph. Some photos are world changing but most simply aren’t and never will be.

    Telling a Story is THE goal for moving film, video, etc. There is great merit, skill, experience and more required in creating a story in motion. The equipment is becoming democratized, but the time and effort to create moving stories is far beyond the abilities of most photographers and even videographers.

    Both fields can be formulaic, but photographers are so desperate in wanting notoriety through their work that formulas are the first and sometimes only place they go.

    Human culture has had stories as far back as we have existed. Very few photos tell a story unless the written word provides the context. Motion pieces must tell a story or they’re simply pointless (or for commerce only), but motion pieces can tell a story self-contained, an aspect where photos fail. The Story will prevail regardless of the vehicle used to tell it. If any of us want success in this world in the creative arts, learn to tell a story with anything, photos, video, clay, whatever; that is what will last more so with the exponentially expanding mass of visual creations.

  6. A photograph can say a thousand words, and movie can express hundreds of thousands. Cliche.

    I think in the recent decades that the those who choose create stories through photography (especially documentries) don’t use enough of their work when putting together the story they are trying to tell. The story ends up being incomplete and short changes those viewing it, they really don’t get the full emotion and depth of the story.

    Which leads me to the thought of movies/video there are those that have resorted to video instead of stills to create their story because it seems easier. Yet it can be just as infective as stills.

    Try telling the story of “Blackhawk Down” with stills. I don’t think you could convey the emotions evoked by the filml even though it was dramatized. Yet to tell Edie Adams story with video would evoke the same emotions that the stills told even though it is short.

    As it has been said, both will have a place for generations tos come.

  7. sorry for the straight words: stupid argument.
    what is better? a haiku, a quote, a poem, a short story, a novel? duh. they all have their place and reason. and some people will be better writing poems while others excel at writing thousand pages, still both are making their audience happy.

  8. If that’s true, why is video cleaning photography’s clock in the marketplace?

    I agree that’s the advantage of stills as a medium. But the market seems to want the “eyeball grabbing” factor of video much more.

  9. Does anybody have any statistics? What I see is: in public places I believe that images are much stronger than videos as people are accustomed to TVs and that is why they don’t look at screens with videos. When we do a presentation with images more people will look at the display than a similar presentation based on videos.