A Means To An End

I read this weekend about a memorial service for the late lindy hopper Frankie Manning. Frankie died last month – he was 94 years old. Frankie might have looked like his years but when he danced – he was 18 again.

I met and photographed Frankie Manning about 10 years ago when I was shooting a story about swing dancing for Smithsonian Magazine. I had pitched the story to Smithsonian at a time when “swing” had become the “thing” – once again. As much as I had a great time shooting the story, I kicked myself from time to time for pitching a story all about movement and sound to a print publication. But it got me thinking about video.

About the same time, technology was making a profound impact on video and specifically DV (digital video). I was hearing about how filmmakers and journalists were experimenting with video as an affordable means to approach their craft – without the need for huge crews and big Hollywood budgets. Then I read about the first DV symposium that was going to take place at the AFI (American Film Institute) in Los Angeles. I flew out to LA a month later to attend and it was a week that changed my world – my creative world that is. I listened to panel discussions, took workshops and learned about cameras and editing systems etc. It was a springboard for my mind and I started thinking of all the stories that I wanted to tell – that I could only tell – with a “motion” medium.

Ultimately, I got into video because it was the right medium to communicate certain messages. At that time video wasn’t the trend.  I didn’t feel  like I needed to learn it because everyone was doing it. For me it was the right tool for certain stories. It was a means to an end.


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