An interview with top travel photographer Philip Lee Harvey talking about shooting video
Digital has been opened up to competition by connected networks, technology and web use. Many photographers have started to do a lot of video work, shooting high definition video on stills cameras. This added usage adds value to what you can offer clients, says Philip. "You're adding another string to your bow," he says. "I think we will soon be expected to be able to provide that content as well as stills."
"My prediction for the future of the industry is that photographers will be missing out if they don't offer moving images," Philip says. "It's an exciting opportunity to add something new to our arsenal, just like moving across to digital was. We're in a closed profession which is changing, so we need to change, too. The quality of technology is there, and it will be a shame if photographers don't make it their business to get interested in it."
Philip tells us about the commission which got him interested in providing video footage alongside stills. "A client sent me abroad to document the Eclipse in the Sahara, and I knew I'd have amazing adventures getting there. The client wanted me to video a behind-the-scenes documentary, but it became more successful than that: they used it on their website as 45 minute documentary. This client now wants video from all my shoots.
"On another commission, we followed the monsoon across India: this was a stills project but we also gave the magazine a HD video. We shot everything on a Hasselblad for stills but used two Sony video camera and additional sound equipment."
Philip offers video as an 'extra' to any of his clients who are keen on web-based moving images. "It doesn't take much to do moving image in the same environment," he explains. "You need a bit longer to do it well, and you need to adopt a slightly different mind set, but you don't need a huge production company. Usage of the video is likely to be in-store on a loop, or on the web. This allows stills photographers to offer that content where previously the client would have had to go to production company."
Don't worry that you'll be spreading yourself too thinly by offering moving images as well as stills. As Philip says, photographers will still put their stamp and style on moving images "otherwise you're just an operator".
"Make your showreel just as good as your stills," he advises. "Showcase your style and composition skills, and the way you see light. That will prove you're more than just a camera operative."
With a definite market for immediacy, at point-of-sale and on the web, technology is changing, enabling photographers to offer moving images without huge production costs. Philip picks out some skills you'll need to make it:
An understanding of sound - Understand the narrative, know the story you want to tell - A solid knowledge of how things are edited - A good understanding of continuity - The ability to create moving images in an inventive way.
Bear in mind that video should be classed as a separate entity: clients should see it as such and allocate extra time and budget accordingly.
Philip Lee Harvey's moving-images kit
"I use a mixture depending on the job. More recently, I've been using a Sony Z1 (to tape), a Canon 5d mark II (digital - to card) and Sony EX1. I'm about to start using the EX3 which allows us to use Canon's lenses to incorporate a depth of field into video, making this more cinemagraphic."
Philip Lee Harvey's views on supplying clients with moving images
"Shooting video and stills on the same job will certainly take up all of your time. The important development is that the end user in all of this is new and that creates great opportunities for us as photographers. If you're already shooting portraits of people laughing, it doesn't take much to roll some video at the same time and make that portrait work across more media. People do expect to see moving image now. Print is no longer how it was: even billboards are now moving, and people get sent moving images on their phones. It's a huge market for us, and we need to embrace it."