Thoughts & Ideas

How to Choose Between Photo or Video…in the Field

It was over one hundred degrees as the sun beat down upon the crew working to build a new school building in The Gambia, Africa and I had a problem, “Do I take a picture of the crew working or do I switch to video and capture the motion of the swinging hammers?”

Afraid that I was going to miss something important, the question of photo or video was an increasingly popular question in my mind.  However, over the course of the two week trip, the question would be answered quicker and with resolve because I had two separate cameras each dedicated to one task, and I was developing a vision for the work that would be completed with the raw footage and photographs.

As modern technology perfects the marriage of high-end still photographs with HD-quality video features and combines two cameras into one, the ability to effectively choose photo or video in the field is becoming a necessary skill for the photographer/filmmaker.  Here are three thoughts on how you can make the switch smoothly, without missing a moment:

1.)  Do the Job You’ve Been Hired to Do

If you’ve been hired to shoot photos, don’t miss a moment because you are switching to video to try something out or to add more value to your marketing package.  There is a significant difference in how you shoot great stills versus fantastic video, and when you are in a fast-pace scenario, stick to the medium you were hired for in the first place.  If you want to add value to your final product, take better pictures or tell a better story, it’s that simple.  Don’t think that lackluster photos or videos are an added bonus.

2.)  Have Vision

Vision helps you to know the story you are telling, the shots that you need and the moments to look for.  Any professional knows what they want and gets it.  The tools simply help them fulfill their vision and satisfy their clients.  Without vision, you will switch back and forth unsuccessfully, create mediocre work and become frustrated that you aren’t getting the shots that you expected.

3.)  Know the Difference Between Creating Great Stills and Fantastic Video

Great stills capture a moment in time.  The lighting, the emotion, the ambiance.  It’s all there in one decisive release of the camera shutter.  The moment is elusive and desires to be hunted, pursued and won.  Fantastic video adds to the lighting, emotion and ambiance a complex array of sounds, motion and language of cinema and storytelling that form the basis of modern filmmaking.  Understanding the differences and recognizing your skill level in each will help you to create stills that fulfill your vision and shoot video that tells the story you want to tell.