6 Ways Video has Made Me a Better Photographer

Lately, I’m finding that I “get the job” because I know how to shoot video. What’s odd is that these are still photography assignments and I was NOT hired to shoot video, but because I knew how to shoot video. What I’ve discovered is that many clients love the “eye” of the “hybrid”.

I’ve been thinking about what is it about the “eye of a hybrid” that clients are finding attractive. Forty Deuce burlesque club, Las Vegas, Nevada In a nutshell, it’s the eye of a master storyteller.  That’s because the medium of video is the perfect medium for telling a story. It encompasses movement, action, pace, rhythm and sound to engage, entice and feel.

I got a call this week for an editorial still photo assignment.  As usual, there was the customary business paperwork, but the client also provided a “shot list”.  I’ve been shooting editorial assignments for over 35 years and have had all kinds of direction. Sometimes, I’m given a writer’s manuscript and I’ve come up with my own shot list and sometimes I’m just told to come up with a variety of images.  But this “shot list” was intriguing because it read more like a shooting script for a video project.  As I read through the list, I could see how the person who had written it – had the “eye of a hybrid”.

Here are some of the suggested shots and “direction” from the list they provided:

(This is how I think and shoot in video. It has made me a better still photographer)

Cover it – Get comprehensive coverage – different perspectives, focal lengths, wide, medium and close-ups.  When I shoot video I will get a variety of angles as well as a variety of focal lengths because I know I will need plenty of b-roll to work with when editing the story together.

Get sequences – Get a variety of mini stories with people interacting. I am accustomed to thinking about how my “shots” will come together as part of the whole video that I’m working on.  Now, I approach a still editorial assignment like this as well. It’s kind of like of a moving pagination of imagery in my head.

Get storytelling images – With still photography I need to make sure those independent shots or moments in time also tell a story and stand on their own.  They can’t just be “wowy zowy” photos as Bob Gilka of the National Geographic used to say when I showed him an eye grabbing and colorful, abstract image.

Action/motion – make the images “feel”.  One that that motivated me to start exploring motion was because I was finding that it was difficult for me to convey the feeling of motion in a still image.  I’m finding that it’s easier for me to convey movement in a still image now because my eye is trained to look for it.

Give the images sound – (like a hammer hammering)Natural sound gives a video the element of reality.  It’s almost like it gives the video a well-needed extra layer or dimension.  When I’m shooting still images, I look for images that will illustrate the “sound” of an environment.

Shoot more – Give me more to choose from.  Again, you can never have enough b-roll when you are shooting video so I have naturally started shooting more on still photography shoots and my clients love having the abundance of choice.


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