Why Photographers Need to Stop Thinking of Video as a Market

I find that many still photographers I talk to either want to “get into video” – or they don’t.  In either case, most photographers think of video as an entirely separate market. The truth is, video is not a market at all.  It’s simply another visual medium a “photographer” can use to express themselves with, convey a story, or hopefully do both.

I have been a still photographer for over 30 years and a motion shooter for over 15, but I have been a storyteller since I started talking.  I have not abandoned my still photography, by any means, In fact if anything, adding motion to my skill set has made me a better photographer.

These days, I work with whatever medium that best conveys the message or story that I need to deliver.  I not only think about that in creative terms but also in how the story will be delivered and to whom. Last week

English: Cover of the February 17, 1933 (vol. ...
English: Cover of the February 17, 1933 (vol. 1 issue 1), first issue of News-Week magazine (now Newsweek). The issue features seven photographs from the week’s news on the cover. Featured are: Adolf Hitler, Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, Franz von Papen. The issue has 32 pages and cost 10 cents. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Newsweek announced they were no longer going to publish a print edition. Clearly that will have a trickle down effect on paper sales, printers, advertising agencies, on down to photographers. It won’t just affect photographers shooting for Newsweek, but will also have an impact on commercial photographers as well. It will affect many markets.

We, as a society are communicating differently and everything is in flux because of it. People are getting their news immediately and on demand, on their phones and other mobile devices.  How can a print edition of a news magazine compete with that?  It can’t. How will advertisers react to that?  That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it?  How can an advertiser monetize the “mobile platform”?  Do they make a viewer watch a short ad at the front end of a story?  As we communicate more and more using smaller devices, advertisers and marketers will need to come up with new ways of reaching their target audience.

Technology is a double-edged sword. It forces change on all of us but it also opens up opportunities.  The advertisers will be able to know exactly the audience they ARE attracting, based on information gathered from analytics.  Independent photographers can use technology the same way, if they open their minds up to new ideas and start to see opportunities.  But that will only happen if they start to see video as just another medium to work with, instead looking at it as a separate market, and telling themselves that’s not what they do.

I had the privilege recently of being a juror on a “motion” competition.  I was very encouraged by what I saw and I looked at over 50 videos.  I saw something new and different.  I saw the “photographic eye“ applied to motion. I saw a different visual aesthetic emerging.  Makes sense doesn’t it?  Photographers creating in a new way using new tools for a society that communicates differently.


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