Moving Photography?

Jason Kottke thinks that the stills video camera will become obsolete in a few years time:

As resolution rises & prices fall on video cameras and hard drive space, memory, and video editing capabilities increase on PCs, I suspect that in 5-10 years, photography will largely involve pointing video cameras at things and finding the best images in the editing phase. Professional photographers already take hundreds or thousands of shots during the course of a shoot like this, so it’s not such a huge shift for them.

I think he underestimates the convenience that the traditional method provides.  Editing even a few moments of video is a lengthy process, and selecting a precise frame or three from a length of footage will be too time consuming for the average punter.  Granted, professional photographers do fire off dozens of snaps in quick succession, to increase their chances of capturing ‘the moment’.  But the ratio of wheat to chaf in this process must surely never approach that generated by 25 f.p.s. video (or film).  I don’t doubt that at the very high-end, photographers will continue to use this technique, but the act of editing, of post-production, will keep the time premium high, and restrain its use to a limited number of professionals.  Without devoting the time to inspect every single frame, how can you be sure the quality of the image would be any better than normal?  It is certainly not an appropriate technique for photojournalists on a deadline, or the amateur snapper with other things to do.

The clamour for the photo (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
The clamour for the photo (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

1 thought on “Moving Photography?”

  1. Well,

    I think it depends on your point of view. If you take The Decisive Moment as the bedrock of photography, then the whole idea of post-selection looks a bit dodgy (although everyone selected from contact sheets). But we shouldn’t pre-suppose that the essence of photography exists in in the 20th century documentary tradition. 19th century photography is defined by a variety of highly manipulative practices, similar to today, and I am personally inclined to argue that the collapse of barriers between still and moving pictures allows lens-based imaging finally to come into its own.

    If you subscribe to apparatus theory – that photographic history is driven by its technical capabilities – then the argument for accepting stills as simply part of a continuing sequence is even stronger. New Canon and Nikon DSLRs offer HD video capture as standard, so there will soon indeed be no difference in quality between stillness and movement.

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