I think we are at a tipping point as far as the future of the still photography business

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If we continue to think of still photography and motion as being two separate entities in the business of visual communications, it will be our demise.

via Journeys of a Hybrid.

There Are 27 Comments On This Article.

  1. It may be our demise… Call me old fashioned. I still feel it is two separate entities if you want quality. Just because our still cameras can do video does not mean we should always be making compromises to provide content on demand. If the content is wanted, I feel it should be paid for and agreed to as a separate or nearly separate contract/transaction. Not a “Oh can you provide some b-roll…” kind of deal. IMHO, Thanks.

    • The editing tools are very different too. While you can do some video in Photoshop (or whatever your pleasure is), it’s really programs like Premiere Pro and Final Cut that will give you the best “content”. At least to my way of thinking.

    • Yes, long story short, to shoot optimum stills + video requires two independent cameras, as one bottleneck that remains is the different optimum shutter speeds for stills & video–a salient point I pointed out/published in the 2013 Winter Resource Magazine:

      “Stills and Video Require Different Approaches, Shutter Speeds, Etc.

      A salient fact that one must honor while capturing simultaneous stills and video is that the two mediums generally require different shutter speeds for optimum quality. This is especially important when motion is present—either at the camera’s end, such as with a handheld rig, or when the subject is moving. When I was shooting Kelly Slater’s journey to victory at the Hurley Pro, exposure times for the Nikon D4 stills were generally between 1/2000s to 1/5000s, thereby freezing his action in mid-air, while the exposure for the video was around 1/60s to 1/120s—well over a magnitude of order difference!

      A touch of motion blur in video frames is more pleasing to the eye, while sharpness is generally sought in photographic stills. For this reason, the Red cameras are limited, even with their 4K and 5K image sizes. If you optimizes the shutter speed for sharpness with speeds of 1/2000s or just 1/1000s, the video will appear “stuttery,” like those old black and white WWII film clips. Should you optimize the shutter speed for video at around 1/60s to 1/120s, motion blur will creep into the stills, showing up in handheld shots or when the subject is moving. When photographer Kevin Arnold used a $65,000 Red EPIC rig (now around $40,000) to shoot skiers at Whistler Mountain, he concluded, “The EPIC’s sensor, while amazing for video, just isn’t on par with top-end DSLRs and certainly not even close to medium format digital cameras when it comes to still images. The bigger challenge—especially when shooting fast moving lifestyle or sports action—is achieving fast shutter speeds. The great majority of the frames we shot were soft due to either camera movement or subject motion blur. This is the single biggest issue with pulling stills from video.””
      –from http://45surfer.wordpress.com

      Long story short, to shoot optimum stills + video requires two independent cameras. :)

  2. To me this feels more like when design moved to the web. Yes, you could take your design skills to the web, but designing on the web is entirely different. They are really two different animals, not apples and oranges, not the same. The end.

    Technology is a terrible master I feel sometimes. Then there are days I celebrate but also days I look at my pencil, my film camera, the sky and say why. I think we have to answer the question and keep answering or we are just lost.

  3. really I think its totally the opposite. while it is getting easier and easier to shoot motion work, it still requires teamwork to execute high production value. on the flipside, I think high end excellent quality still photographs are a total craft and really not the same thing.

  4. Fully disagree…because in 30 years we can still look at stills, but if the video format changes our grandchildren won’t have much to watch old stuff on! Video is Video, and it has it’s purpose, and stills are stills, and they’ll always be around…just cause a DSLR can save a family from having two cameras, it doesn’t mean it is the “end of stills”! Sorry, I don’t buy that. If I record one thing in a year it’s too much…

  5. You can never, ever shoot stills and video at the same time as effectively compared to shooting them separately. Even for the basic thing that the manner of treatment and shooting for moments you will need in stills and the moments you would need for video are in totally separate worlds that you can never combine. And please don’t tell me that GIF or having an insane amount of resolution to be able to grab a hi-res frame from a super HD camera would be the solution. There has to be a separation. Not just for the sake of practice or discipline. But more importantly, for the quality of work that will be produced.

  6. Hey, I own a car… I know how to drive it… 2014 Monaco Grand Prix, here I come!

    Just because a photographer’s camera shoots great video doesn’t mean the photographer can shoot great video.

  7. After reading some of the comments, which I’m always grateful for, regardless if they are pro or con, I should clarify some things:
    I don’t see a future without still photographs. Still images are moments in time. Video is time in motion. There will always be a need for that “decisive moment” that a still image provides. However, will that “decisive moment” be captured by a camera that just shoots stills or will it be pulled from a motion camera.
    I totally agree that shooting stills is much different than shooting motion and I also agree that it is very difficult for me to do both. If I am asked on assignment to shoot both – I usually work with my partner and one of us will be responsible for stills – the other, video. We also NEVER just throw in the stills nor the video. We do line item the creative fees on our SOW’s. One reason is that we license them separately.
    One last point, the DSLR capable of shooting video won’t be the game changer in the future. My prediction (but I don’t have a crystal ball) is that it will be a high end motion camera able to provide a high res frame at a fast shutter speed to stop the action. We’re not there yet but technology’s rise is exponential and what’s possible now shouldn’t be used to predict what will be possible in the future.
    The only thing good about getting older is that one has gained more perspective over the years. I’ve seen cycles of ups and downs and I have seen things happen that I never could have imagined were possible. Truly anything is possible. We may even elect a female president in my lifetime.

  8. Totally depends on the genre. And even then: there is in most cases a big difference between the power of a frozen moment (still) and hundreds of them (video).

    But what is true is that for many commercial photographers they may be able to offer more to their clients by producing video, too.

  9. The keyword here is “the BUSINESS of visual communications.” Once you qualify it as a business, then anything goes. Business and money dictate almost everything we do in the pursuit of financial gain. Most people who can, will agree to do anything if the price is right, no matter what you call it, photography, video, film, multimedia, or visuals, etc. It’s a job.

    However, as an art form, or even as media solely in pursuit of their own creation, Photography and Video or any type of motion imaging are and should definitely be separate. I get so infuriated, particularly in the art world, when so much stuff is called photography when it really is NOT, (appropriation, mixed media, documentation of performance art, etc). I am simply romantic about the idea of photography that exists for its own sake, and not in the service of some other endeavor or business. Otherwise, it is usually qualified as for example, commercial photography, medical, scientific, photojournalism, fashion, etc.

  10. visual communication.

    I visually communicate to you with text that I disagree.

    I disagree.

    BUT, would it be better if a took a photo of me disagreeing?

    Maybe if I played a video of me disagreeing. That would communicate better?

    Less is more.

  11. From a business standpoint, this is probably true as the “job” of photographer and videographer will be merged (to save money) and if you can’t do both, you won’t survive financially. From a creative expression standpoint, however, they will always be separate. Moving pictures and photos have lived side-by-side for around a century, so I don’t see this changing as quickly as everyone predicts – but I wouldn’t bet my paycheck on it if I was a full-time photographer.

  12. With 12fps on the high-end DSLRs, people shooting at that rate are already doing this even though they think they’re shooting stills. So on one level, it’s already been here for awhile now and is a big selling point for the stills mode of a camera.

    Add to that the fact that the aesthetics of still photography have begun to look more an more like film (things like composition and color grading aka filters), and I’d say it’s all but done. Look at some fashion editorials and you’ll think you’re looking at a dramatic scene in a move.

    But the “futurists,” not knowing all this, continue to make their arguments in a little bubble, unaware of all this.

  13. I’ve seen all sides of this coin-
    Film guys dabbling in still, still shooters adding “Director” or “Producer” to their services, and many instances of both factions working side by side on large projects requiring both skill-sets to achieve a commercial with stills that look seamless, but are still staged the classical way. Many photographers are eager to press that little record button and make some extra money, and they will. But motion, like retouching, web design, production, styling, and all the other things photographers have to worry about, is a distraction from the job at hand and should be subcontracted to specialists so that everyone can focus on their specialty. There is a large niche for inexpensive motion+still services, obviously. But hiring a video crew to shoot the thing under your branding for a job that needs it is a more sensible option.
    And the whole idea of pulling 12 MB frames from a 3 minute RED reel sounds horrendous. I’ll be happy to leave the business if that is what photography becomes.

  14. I keep hearing this, and I keep not believing it. In a minor way I have done this shooting stills and time lapse sequences for a multimedia project. Guess what, it takes much longer than just shooting the stills. What works in one medium doesn’t work the same in the other, so more work is required. More equipment, and even in the case of a miniature crew of me + 1 assistant there weren’t enough hands at times. So the budget has to be bigger even for this case, if it isn’t, both get compromised.

  15. scott Rex Ely

    I’m not really sure how consumers can be left out of the equation. Consumers , who thanks to digital technology are able to absorb or at least review content at a rapid rate, will necessarily have the time for viewing video in any other genre than youtube. It’s a double edged sword for video. Sure it’s a plethora of more delivery than stills, maybe not in a purely aesthetic point, but it requires exponentially more time to actually consume than stills and simple text. Just a thought.

  16. I find it interesting a premise of change is based on a statement years old and the discussion is not really new.

    The intention of using antithetical elements is like saying you can win the Indy 500 in a smart car. I can see many wanting to combine the stills with film technologically but is it really in the best interest of the creatives behind the viewfinders or is it more in the best interest of the manufacturers.

    I think the red is a smart choice for cinema just as the medium format DSLR is to commercial photography. Yet films are mostly produced on Sony, Arri, Panasonic cameras that are 1/3 to super 35mm formats. The documentary filmmakers are using JVC, Canon, and other smaller format cameras to produce their stories. I am sure they would like higher end equipment but look at who is buying the films. Isn’t the real driving force behind technology is what the consumer is willing to pay up front?

    Personally the differences between the two mediums will be the element of separation no matter the advances in technology. Now if you kill creativity and just make the guy behind the viewfinder and operator, sure anyone can do the job. even monkeys.

  17. Technical development does not stop with still images, either. When you look at the most recent medium format digital backs with 16bit color and incredible detail – this is where the upper end of still photography is going.

    Also, the mindset on creating video and still is very different. Many videos I see are basically still photos shot by a video camera and chained together, and the motion part is that it is either shot out of a car, or that branches of trees are moving or the people aren’t standing still completely.

    The advantage of motion is not just the motion, it’s also how it is edited (and here the term editing has an intellectual impact that is greater than in still photography). When you look at film and montage (Eisenstein, Nouvelle Vague, etc.), the technical aspect is simply not there.

    Where the future goes is that one creator will do both still and video. But he will work completely different on both occasions and will not do both at the same time (except for low end projects).

    The future image creator will be a mix of director and director of photography, and he will bring an intellectual component to the table.

  18. Clarifying:

    Motion and montage: the technical aspect is not the dominating aspect. What happens between the takes is key: the intellectual aspect dominates.

    Which is why the image maker of the future will not just “make images”. He’ll create a whole world, and the images come out of it.

    Being a writer as well will be a great thing for the future image and motion creator.

    PS: An “edit” button would be great.

  19. I would never be able to take a headshot at f/11 ISO 100 1/250 in studio on a motion camera. How would I light that without burning out a model’s retina?

    Still photography will always be a thing, as you cannot pack as much punch into continuous lighting as you can with strobe lighting.

    Wedding photography could be a different beast altogether though, as you can grab some extremely nice stills from a reception or ceremony already. That definitely bears some thought!