5 Reasons Why Photographers Need to Learn Filmmaking
Why? Because photography and videography aren’t as separate as they seem. And when it comes to surviving as a photographer in the age of video, you’d be wise to heed the old maxim that says, “If you can’t beat them, join them.”
Here at Visual Education, we see video not as a threat but as an opportunity. That’s why we’re gearing up to launch a brand-new Filmmaking section designed to teach you everything you need to know to become a video master.
So why should photographers learn filmmaking? Here are five excellent reasons.
1. Video is taking over
From reels on Instagram to digital billboards on the London Underground, there’s no questioning the unstoppable rise of video. With moving images becoming ever more intricately woven into the fabric of our daily lives, the ability to capture them at a professional level is becoming increasingly essential for anyone working in visual media.
Just ask Jonathan Knowles, an accomplished product photographer with decades of experience and an impressive list of clients that includes Schweppes, Grolsch, Twinings and Costa. It was in 2012 that Jonathan first realised video was ‘taking over’.
Rather than panic or accept defeat, he decided to expand his skill set along with his team of collaborators. Thanks to being open-minded and eager to learn, Jonathan has been able to continue working at the highest level.
Today, he estimates that he spends 60 percent of his time filmmaking, with that number creeping higher all the time.
© Karl Taylor
Jonathan Knowles: Shooting Video as a Stills Photographer
2. Clients expect both
Contemporary ad campaigns increasingly feature a ‘crossmedia’ suite of assets, involving both still and moving images. As a result, clients today often expect the photographers they hire to offer filmmaking services too.
Sure enough, Jonathan finds himself working consistently on campaigns that combine photography and video. “It’s a long time now since I had a brief that was just for stills,” he tells Karl. He also produces ‘cinemagraphs’ – photographs with some moving elements, such as a bead of moisture sliding down a beer bottle.
In Jonathan’s opinion, unless a photographer is already famous for their stills alone, or working in a very specialised niche, they will be at a distinct disadvantage if they can’t offer filmmaking along with their photography.
In the 'cinemagraph' version of this image, a bead of moisture slides down the bottle as the sun moves across the sky.
© Jonathan Knowles
3. Video can help you promote your work
Even if you mostly work with still images, and plan to remain primarily a photographer, mastering the basics of filmmaking and videography is extremely useful when it comes to marketing and self-promotion.
Whether you’re talking into the camera about what you do, splicing together a collection of your best shots, or producing a slick behind-the-scenes video from one of your shoots, a well-produced video can help you to communicate your creative expertise, bring your creativity to life and help you stand out from the crowd.
4. Filmmaking is more of a team sport
Like writing or painting, photography can be quite a solitary pursuit. Hours in the studio with just your camera, lights and Photoshop for company can be very productive and rewarding. But sometimes it can be good to work more collaboratively, too.
By its very nature, filmmaking is more of a team sport. Between camera operators, sound engineers, video editors, and the rest, you’ll be working with a much bigger group of fellow creatives.
If being part of a team and feeding off other people’s creative energy appeals to you, branching out into film and videography is a great place to start.
5. Photographers already understand the essentials of filmmaking
Do you feel daunted by the prospect of learning a new skill? Don’t!
As a photographer, you already understand lighting, aperture, depth of field, and so on. That expertise puts you in a perfect position to expand your skills and add filmmaking to your creative repertoire.
“Don’t be worried about the fact that it’s a moving-image camera,” says Jonathan. “It’s still a box that captures light. If you know how to operate a stills camera in manual mode, it should be a relatively straightforward process for you to start capturing video.”
This sentiment is echoed by acclaimed photographer Barry Makariou, who enjoys experimenting with video himself and encourages confidence and open-mindedness. “If you’re creative, you can apply yourself to anything,” he says.
Being creative means always challenging yourself, trying new things, and finding new ways to express yourself. For photographers, embracing the exciting potential of filmmaking is a fantastic opportunity to do just that.