When photography beats video


General Photography

I’m sure by now you’ve seen the NY Times “multimedia” piece of video-game players. When I watched the piece my first thought was that I had seen still photography of video-game players where each image delivered vastly more than seeing the players “in action”. I want to highlight (again) Shauna Frischkorn’s work. I’m sure lots of people will now disagree and flood my inbox, but I think despite of what many people want to believe, photography, when done well, can have a quality that moving images don’t have.

Maybe this is because in that video there is basically nothing left to the imagination (you got the sound of the game in the background, and not being able to see the game itself actually doesn’t matter all that much; as an aside, this is also the reason why Hollywood remakes of foreign movies are typically so bad: Everything that might be “missing” in the original movie is spelled out) - in contrast, the viewer has to fill the photos with meaning her/himself. Of course, this requires more of an involvement with the image, but - crucially - this is what makes all the difference. The photo you could hang on your wall and happily live with it, but who would want to see the video every day?

This is also why I think that that fancy new camera that has lots of people drooling poses a real danger for newspapers, because they might be tempted to replace still images with movies, thus falling into the trap that I have just outlined. I think multimedia is the future of newspapers, but I think the kind of multimedia shouldn’t just be videos shot with some fancy camera. After all, if you want moving images you’ll watch TV. If newspapers want to be able to compete with TV, they’ll have to offer something TV can’t offer. A wonderful example of the kind of multimedia I’m thinking of was offered by a Magnum photographer a little while back: A Scarecrow.