According to many they don’t. Crossing the divide seems to be high on the agenda of many shooters yet eludes most. Cue the beautiful model walking on the street in slow mo, wind blowing in her hair - absent of dialogue or storyline. It’s an all too common cliche these days with the advent of motion capture on every SLR.
Image courtesy of our very own Ken Pao
With content marketing continuing to be one of the biggest trends in 2014 and with it an insatiable demand for engaging visual imagery, motion has become just as important as stills for brands and agencies. In addition, there is a move toward agencies selecting a photographer who can direct motion (or vice versa) in order to cut costs by rolling the two roles into one.
In a recent interview with Patrick Casey, the long established owner of the NY based Casey photographer agency, suggested that the trend is definitely moving in the direction of repping agencies signing more talent that can do both. As he puts it however “just because you are a stills photographer does not make you a good director”. He sees a real distinction between the photographer adding some motion on the back of a shoot and a director capable of shooting high end ‘broadcast’ material.
But why is it that so many creatives in advertising agencies are rolling their eyes at the mention of “I’m a photographer AND a director”? Surely much of the skill set is the same? Perhaps the common thing that would-be photographer-directors lack is a fundamental story telling ability. Being able to tell a story in 30 seconds may be more of a honed skill than telling a story in one frame. In motion, the crux of story telling is defined by a brilliant script and a director’s vision to interpret it in an even more amazing way. Then a great edit is the icing on the cake, as Thomas Richter’s tells us in his interview with F stop.
So who is crossing the divide and how are they doing it? One emerging directing talent within our ImageBrief community is Alina Gozin’a, an award winning stills photographer who built a solid reputation in production stills, key art and celebrity portraiture. Her recent break into motion saw her debut TVC shortlisted in the Young Directors Award at Cannes last year and made us wonder how photographers can jump the gap and master both.
Alina tells us that she approaches her stills shoots as mini film shoots, where in one frame she tells an entire story through an enticing concept, production design and cinematic lighting. We saw this in her portrait of Oscar nominated director Luke Doolan which won gold at the LPA in 2012. Alina conceptualized it on the ‘Infinite Monkey Theorem’, a theory that Luke strongly subscribes to (yes the monkey is real and was shot in a single take!). It was on the back of Alina’s signature style of stills that despite all odds she was signed by Australia’s legendary Film Graphics production house without even having a showreel.
'Monkey Business' by Alina Gozin’a
So, what’s her advice to photographers aspiring to direct motion? “Take the time to think about your concept and start by using the good old tools of film making like props, costumes and cinematic lighting to tell a story in one frame. I start by writing out a one page outline for the sitter about the story I want to tell about them. The story could be fictional… it’s really about how I see them”.
Alina’s passion for film and art is very apparent and she admits this is a driving force behind creating intriguing work. “I now watch and rewatch good films and award winning TVCs not just for entertainment but to absorb the lighting techniques, production design and performance to draw on for my own work”. A healthy knowledge of art and painting doesn’t hurt either as she tells us “some of my biggest inspiration have been the old masters of painting like Vemeer Caravaggio and Rembrandt because they are the original masters of lighting”.
We’re are a fan of Erwin Olaf’s cheeky work and of course Anton Corbijn is one of the most high profile photographers who has mastered both stills and directing. We love his debut feature “Control” which made its mark on the film world so we had to include it!
Name any other great photographers that are carving out a reputation in directing and give your opinion in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
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