About 8 years ago I was offered a digital camcorder for my birthday. That was at a time when my photography practice went down hill for some reasons and I suddenly enjoyed the idea of embracing a new technology (I never shot digital before) as well as having a handy way to record family moments (my first son was born few months before). But that initial impression soon faded away. As I renewed with photography later on it became clear that as much as I like to click a moment through a viewfinder I can’t stand the time in-between two pressing of a red “record” button.
I feel somewhat guilty for that, because my kids won’t have those animated footage that millions others kids of their age will probably cherish when they grow old. My kids will be left with silent still moments, but no noisy video.
That being said the good think with photographs is that you can enjoy them without any need of a technological interface – as long as they exist in the form of a print of course. When I was a kid my father did not take many photographs (I think he did not even own a camera back then). Like thousands of dads in the 70’s he has switched to super8 movie camera and would make films of us instead of taking pictures. As a result I got very few photographs of me as a kid, but instead there are super8 reels taking dust somewhere at my parent’s house with no more mean to decipher them. Actually even if the old projector was still in use it is an hassle to set-up a session for looking at those films, or better said there is no way to enjoy them casually… whereas to look at photographs you just need to open a folder or whatever was used to arrange them meticulously. It can be stored accessible on bookshelves so that you grab it whenever you want to, without having to plan something specific. OK, I know. You can now transfer these old super8 to a DVD and it comes handy in your computer. As a matter of fact my dad did that for a couple of reels but the result is not that good, and for some reason a part of the original experience is lost, because super8 was not primarily designed to be looked through a computer screen (that can be said for photographs as well, hence the need of printing).
Out of my very short experience of doing video I have learned one thing: time in video is very long, it is like stretched, dilated, but in a bad way. As much as you love your wife and kids any non-edited video footage that lasts more than 30 sec is very boring to look at. Think about if I had filmed 10 min of that breakfast in New-York – instead of just taking that shot above. So what I did was that I would cut tiny bits of video footage and put them together. But that is a hell of a job, very time consuming. And you need hours of footage to get few minutes worth to look at. That made me realize that in fact video has a relation to time/moment which is the exact opposite to that of photography. A photograph has the unique ability to magnify a moment, to make something special out of it (it is not an unreasonable way to define what photography is about). But if the most mundane moment can be turned into something great into a photograph, on the contrary with video the moment shot (more literally the time shot) becomes depressingly boring. You need a storyboard to make things work. Or at least good music.