My intention each and every time I head out with my camera is to capture a moment of natural history which evokes thought. There is of course more than one way to crack a nut and another way is through film-making. I have always liked to keep my methods as simple as possible - one illustration of this is that I only use two camera lenses, a telephoto prime and a wide-angle, which is seen as curious by other photographers. I find that by using the bare essentials of equipment, that your mind is firmly fixed on composing a image rather than what gizmo to use next. A number of natural history photographers will create stills and footage of what they see but this is not the direction I’ve taken.
The reason is largely due to the fundamental differences between stills and film. In a moving image, the entire story is played out in front of the viewer and can demonstrate speed and impact very directly. Inherently linked to film is a great deal of technicality and sound editing and I feel that it can complicate the end goal, which is communicating a moment. I feel that there is an added challenge in capturing energy and a narrative in a single photograph. From a practical point of view, I like the fact that a stills photographer can take ownership of the process from conception to display, whereas a film requires a person to create images, sound, narration, post production etc.
I recently opened this question to a community of wildlife photographers and found the following responses to the question very illustrative:
There is something very Zen about a good photo…it is something one can contemplate
With videos you see a sequence of events but you miss out on the fine details of some moments
There’s just something about that fraction of a second of time frozen forever to appreciate a spectacular subject
Nature films require an in depth narrative to make them interesting
Colour, contrast, angle, all add to setting the mood of a picture. Most of the time that ‘moment’ goes by quickly in a video….many never see it
What are your thoughts?