The Blurring of the Lines

chasestudiopicEver since Vince Laforet’s “Reverie” hit the Net last fall, there’s been a whole lotta talk about the blurring of the lines between photographer and videographer. Just this past Thursday I had the pleasure of being the guest on Jack Hollingsworth’s Toginars podcast. One of the questions that came up was where I see the photography industry going with respect to the adoption of video. Since I’m relatively active in both industries (as a speaker, writer, coach, video producer, podcaster, and now co-owner of a photog business) I think I have a unique take on what this all means.

THE VISUAL ARTIST

We’re already seeing some high profile photographers starting to refer to themselves and or their business as visual artists. Vincent Laforet is now Laforet Visuals. Celebrity wedding photographer (and fellow Skip’s Summer School speaker) Charles Maring is now Maring Visuals (with the subtitle Photography | Digital Cinema). If you check out commercial photog Chase Jarvis’s website and click on the Studio link, you’ll see a cool video of his studio, and the shots that clearly stand out (to me anyway) are the three or four shots of the off-da-hook RED camera set-up he got going on (I think you see him hold an SLR for a couple of seconds. In fact, if one were to watch this video separated from his website, it would easily pass as a promo for a video director, not high profile commerical photographer. I also notice he made a point to showcase a box of Final Cut Studio, not Photoshop). My good buddy Zack Arias recently made a lot of waves with a video he produced for Scott Kelby’s blog. Friday on my podcast F-Stop Beyond, celebrity commercial and music photographer Jeremy Cowart talked about shooting his first music video and the fact that in addition to his regular photography agent, he has a music video agent as well. Celebrity wedding photographer Robert Evans, along with his partner Curt Apanovich, are shooting music videos and pushing the “fusion” of photos and videos. Editorial photog Doug Menuez is wrapping up post production on a documentary he shot about New York immigrants. And the list of photographers I know who are getting into film and video, or have expressed an interest to do so, continues to grow.

More and more photographers from all aspects of the industry are embracing the video revolution. But they’re not doing it in the way that I think many people expected. That is, they’re not looking to be “videographers” in the strictest since of the term. But instead, directors. They’re creating a vision and directing it. Many times they’ll be holding the camera themselves for sure. But they’re also using DP’s and audio guys, and in many cases they’re passing the footage off to a talented editor to cut it.

The comment I made on Jack’s show was that  I think we’ll definitely see more pro photogs getting into some form of video or mixed media production, but they’re not going to try to do all the tasks associated with it. They’ll do one aspect (like direct) then collaborate and/or hire others to handle the rest. With respect to this medium, I believe that is the best course of action, even for my fellow video producers.

SURVIVING THE CONVERGENCE

With the convergence of technology changing how both these industries evolve, here’s what I think is necessary for a studio to effectively grow and remain successful.

  • Find Your Focus: Pun completed intended, but what you need to do if it’s your desire to grow your studio (photography or video) is “find your focus.” Find which part of the creative process you want to primarily do. Shoot. Edit. Graphic design. Motion graphics. Audio. Obviously in a smaller studio you may do most if not all, but as you grow, you will find yourself gravitating to one aspect of the job.
  • Collaborate: While you focus on what you do best, collaborate with other artists to fill in the gap. If you’re a photog shooting video with the 5D (or even the RED), hire an editor to put it all together for  you. If you’re a video producer that loves editing, hire talented shooters. And by “hire,” I don’t necessarily mean employees. Contract out the work if necessary.
  • Look At Yourself Differently: As technology evolves, the media we use to do our work will also. We have no idea what kinds of media will be available in the future. I like to consider myself a media producer vs. video producer. Or maybe “visual storyteller” is more your speed.
  • Adapt: Change and re-invent yourself and your business to flow with the changing times. We have essentially started our business from scratch this year as a new media marketing agency precisely because of all these changes. We’re selling ideas and experience in communicating a client’s vision, and we’ll put together the team necessary to make that vision a reality.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THESE DEVELOPMENTS

This August 16-19 at the MGM Grand, these topics will be addressed and taught at Skip’s Summer School by Robert Evans (co-founder of the PhotoFusion Tour) and Jennifer and Charles Maring. Below is a video produced by Maring’s studio using the 5D. The world is changing. I think whether you’re a video producer or a photographer, this would be a worthwhile conference to attend. And at only $279 (which includes free registration to WPPI 2010) plus MGM at only $69/night, it’s a hard educational opportunity to pass up.

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