Michael Donovan Was Here…

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Death of Photography… or people just being idiots as usual

with 3 comments

At some point in my day I read an article that said “80% of clients are requesting video to go along with their print photography.” It was compared to the early days of the web when everyone wanted web rights, even if they didn’t know how they’d use it.

The problem is: people aren’t thinking ahead this time. They’re investing time and money in to something that may not fit. Look at it this way: when the music video came out people said “this is the end of the radio! People will expect to see videos of music.” Fast forward 30 years and we have services like Last.fm, Pandora and iTunes where videos are pretty pointless.

Look, I like video just as much as everyone else. But can you imagine if everything went video? You would walk in to someone’s house and see a wall of videos showing every moment of a couples wedding, footage of a newborn sleeping, looped video of your kids at their birthday parties, and so on. Nah- that sounds like too much chaos. Video is a tool and people need to think about their customer. Forcing them to endure 30 seconds of video does not enhance their experience.

Enhancing the human experience may just be a poster of one word that clearly draws a line between your brand and your clients. Or it may be an illustration, an info-graphic, or a painting.

I have a map on my wall from the MTA showing me the NY transit system. Another wall has some of my artwork. And another wall has more artwork from artists I enjoy and the 4th wall has a mirror so I can look at my beautiful blue eyes. I can imagine a world where every wall was a display that could be changed in to whatever I wanted… but I don’t like the way that looks and feels so I’d rather imagine a world where 1 wall is a functional multimedia wall, another with a mirror, another with real art and the other can have a giant photo of my awesomeness. I like the texture of frames, I like seeing the way paint drips and collects, and I like the way paper folds a little.

Another way of seeing it: how many times do you or your friends kick back and watch a wedding video? Twice a week? Twice a month? Twice a year? Once a decade?! Now ask yourself: how many times do you look at a picture of your spouse? Think of the pictures on the fridge, the picture at work, the pictures on the wall, the pictures by the bed, and so on. Now think of a memorable music video (thriller by Michael Jackson is a good one). What image do you see? Do you see the entire video playing? Or could it be summed up with just an image of Michael wearing a red jacket in a line of zombies? Do you see what I’m saying here? Even when video is present, the still shot often trumps the minutes of action.

Photography isn’t dead. And clients: don’t waste your money on video, even if the visual image maker suggests it- get it if it makes sense but don’t force something that won’t fit. You can remember iconic covers to magazines but can you really remember the silent video advertisement that played on the side of the M23?! Some sucker actually paid for that video and usage!!!!

Written by Michael Donovan

16/03/2010 at 1:04 am

Posted in Business, Photography

3 Responses

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  1. You make a very good point, but what if couples want video to remember words, such as vows and toasts? While I don’t think people will want to watch music videos of their weddings repeatedly, it might be nice to look back and see a video that highlights the wedding in ways that pictures cannot.


    16/03/2010 at 1:43 am

    • I’m not a wedding shooter (I shoot fashion, beauty and fine art) so I’m probably not the best person to answer this question. However, I say “more power to you” if a couple decides to hire a videographer. But a photographer shouldn’t push video services if a client doesn’t ask for it and a couple shouldn’t feel guilty if they don’t want to hire a videographer, photographer, a painter, an illustrator and someone to make sculptures of everyone in attendance at the wedding.

      The point I’m trying to make clear to photographers and clients alike is: too much emphasis is being put on merging video and still images. Videographers and photographers have two COMPLETELY different eyes. And the reality is: we’re much more comfortable viewing powerful images that happen to be static for extended periods of time rather than looped videos.

      I respect film and I respect photography. I also respect my clients and the money they could be saving by NOT paying to have video accompany the still images (the money could be spent on renting a better location, or put in to better placements of their images). In your situation with weddings: an extra $10k spent on a videographer could be spent on creating a great video to document their wedding or it could be invested in to something that would actually provide a return on investment- they already have the pictures they’ll see every day so why get video that will only be watched a dozen times in a lifetime?!

      Michael Donovan

      16/03/2010 at 1:56 am

      • Hmm. I didn’t realize you were saying that there are photographers pushing video services on clients. My experience has been clients asking for video services that I don’t provide. I wish I could, because I feel there are things (mentioned previously) that a video camera can catch that a still camera cannot.

        In the end, I feel that a merging of video and still images can be a very nice treat for the client to see. It’s nice to show and share (especially these days with youtube and facebook), but it probably won’t last decades later like still photos will.

        I really like your point about being more comfortable viewing static images. You convey it well.


        16/03/2010 at 2:11 am

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