When I first started shooting video, I didn’t know how to relate that craft to shooting stills. My photographer friends seemed mostly given to making expensive prints. I felt called instead to Web work, and using images to tell stories. That seemed best done with video. But I preferred shooting stills to video for a number of reasons. I liked the relative simplicity of shooting stills. I liked the purity of the decisive moment when the shutter is opened. I liked the fact that a good still image remains in the mind forever.
Eventually I found that I could make automated slide shows for the Web. It took me a long time to discover the right word for these. They are not called slideshows, but rather, photofilms, a genre popularized by Ken Burns in his series for PBS about the Civil War.
I love making photofilms, because I’m moved not only by beautiful images but also beautiful words. Writing a soundtrack script for a photofilm gives one exquisite control over narration. Cobling together a cogent narration from a collection of documentary video or audio clips takes a lot of patience and persistence.. Photographer Maisie Crow show’s she’s mastered this genre in this black and white photofilm about a genetic disorder which leaves one always hungry.
Eventually I realized that in film making one doesn’t need to stick to either stills or moving pictures.Some photofilms mix the two media very artfully. I haven’t actually done this yet myself, but I think I know how I could do it without breaking the piggy bank: I’d make the photofilm first with SoundSlides, render that as a video, then put that .mp4 file on the timeline of my video editor and splice in the video clips where I wish. Generally, re-rendering a video reduces its visual clarity, but not so much where still images are involved. Using an .mp4 made from a SoundSlides show should look pretty good when rendered a second time.