Award-winning photographer Robert Dowling has been working in moving images since 1976, producing commercials, documentary and self-generated film. He gives his advice on getting ahead in an industry on the up.
"Photographers can now become moving image directors'," he says, "because so many outlets demand moving pictures. Poster sites, for example, feature moving images which can be shot on stills cameras and still achieve a quality that was previously unheard of. Photographers are crossing over in different ways than ever before. It's no longer a big deal to do moving images. The photographer can have control of both stills and moving if he's lucky. There is a business in it, you just need to find a niche and get the work."
Robert is currently working on a number of film-projects, developing writing ideas and collaborating on co-productions. "After three years, I've finished a film script, which is a huge project," he says. "I've also got a number of other ideas for TV and animation on the go. I'm working on a fully-funded animated film at the moment, where my title is Director of Photography even though it's all done on computer. I'm directing camera and lighting through software, but I still have give the animated film a look. I find that I'm increasingly working as Producer and Art Director rather than Director or photographer. I like the satisfaction of seeing the idea through to the finished product."
What is Robert's advice to anyone making the change over to moving images? "It's a self-taught thing; an instinct," he says. "Of course you need to make the image visually exciting. Any photographer needs to think of themselves as providing both stills and moving pictures. Don't worry about the film-making side of it, but occupy yourself with the visuals. The internet, posters and other sites need more of a focus on exciting visuals than on quality film."
In Robert's opinion, the people commissioning film projects aren't necessarily interested in seeing standard reels. "Instead, they tend to look in odd places for talent and inspiration. They're increasingly looking for experimental, off-the-wall stuff. Ideas are the name of the game."
Robert's advice for moving-pictures photographers:
"Photographers need to look into other areas in order to make themselves more useful. Offer a range of skills to stay in demand in different areas of work. Be versatile! Keep up with how images are being used and understand how the industry is changing. There is all sorts of work out there to be had - including sponsored projects, event photography and film sources - that you may not think of. If you can put your mark on something no-one else is doing, or you can better it, then you're in."