Why Shoot Video Instead of Stills

Video seems to be the “hot” topic these days.  There’s nothing really new about video – it’s been around for quite some time.  So why do we see and hear it everywhere? You Tube gets one billion hits a day!  Perhaps the short, simple answer is because society interacts and communicates more and more via the web through social media sites.  And because of broadband capabilities – we “can” watch videos without the painful experience of watching stuttering video while it downloads.

So as the economy stays soft and still photographers try to stay afloat and camera manufacturers incorporate video capabilities  into still cameras – there seems to be more and more photographers who feel the need to start shooting video.  I’m a big advocate of video – but for all the right reasons and those reasons are different for each and everyone of us.  But – you must have a reason why to shoot video from a story point of view.  Because visual communication should be all about telling the story or relaying a message.

I used to shoot a lot of stories for the National Geographic Traveler – mostly city stories.  I spent quite a bit of my time – observing life and waiting for the “moments”.  I’d also spend a lot of time talking to people and listening to their stories.  I stored a lot of those conversations in my head over the years but because I am a photographer – my images were published – but not those conversations. So in a sense there was a large part of my experience that was never shared.

When I started shooting video projects, along with it came the need to do interviews. A big part of many of my videos are interviews that drive the narrative of the story.   Interviewing someone on video can be a powerful thing. That is truly one of the most powerful aspects of video  and the reason “why” I choose that tool when I do.  When I sit down and speak with someone  face to face – I get the type of experience and interview that one can only get in person.  I pick up on all the nuances – the body language – of the subject.  When I really care about my subject – the connection becomes that much stronger – the questions are answered not only with words but with the body and the eyes and everything in between.  And that shows – on camera and can drive the story in a meaningful way.

So when I need to tell someone’s story and that person tells their story not solely through their words but with every inflection of their voice and body – then video is my tool of choice.  That choice is made because it makes the story stronger.  Not just because I “can” because my camera has video capabilities. Choose your tool wisely.  I’d love to hear how and why others decide on which tool to choose. There’s so many reasons.


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