Positive Negative Magazine is the product of combined Editorial Photography and Design courses at RIT. Two different courses on two different sides of the building combine to produce a 100+ page magazine, of editorial (read, “with opinion or stance") magazine.
If you’re curious about more of the magazine, give a click here.
This semester I was a student in the photo side of the class, as well as a staff member on the Web/iPad team. More specifically, I took on the goal of driving the digital content of this year’s edition. It was a natural fit. with my keen interest that bridges the printed matter and an online or electronic counterpart.
Over the course of the semester, with a team of two other students, we aimed to capture “feature” content and “BTS” (behind the scenes). Features were in the same line of concept with print imagery, carrying an added message or simply providing moving visuals, congruent with the stills. Its more icing on the cake than actual cake. There were a few other things along the way, like producing a video for the class’s Kickstarter campaign too.
I wish I could say that the idea of adding motion was enthusiastically addressed, but I don’t think that’s the case. Being excited about having added feature or BTS content of a photographer’s shoot was the exception, rather than the norm. More times it felt like a fight to get motion done, rather than a welcome encouragement.
I’m not sure if its a lack of motivation, inspiration, or even caring, but it’s been a formative experience that speaks to the growing generation of stills photographers and how willing they are to realize motion in their work. The students I had the joy of working with, who openly embraced motion and were hungry to add it to the story, were some of the brightest I've met in my time at school.
It’s enough to say “I want to learn more about video.” I hear this about twice a week, and that’s great. I’m excited about people wanting to learn, and I will do anything in my power to help any artist genuinely focused on honing their skills, do exactly that. But saying isn’t enough. Put the rubber to the road and actually do it. But then again, that's not a lesson just or one thing, but how I treat many things in life.
Here’s the soapbox: For it to work, for it to be substantial enough, to be part of who you are as an artist, motion content cannot be an after thought. Motion is not an added benefit, is an integral aspect. Treating it like a tagalong, is not only offensive to the entire industry of hardworking men and women to live their lives producing the world's movies, television shows, and commercials, but shows the naiveté of the still photography industry as a whole.
The phrase “and maybe we’ll do some video for it because that’d be cool” infuriates me to no end.
In writing this blog, I've learned that the motion industry sees still photographers attempting to tackle motion as a joke, an infant playing in the big kids' sandbox. Though we may use similar tools and light; even though we may be sharing tight spacesI think this is strongly tied to the mentality in which we treat this craft.
The challenge is to think beyond your single frame. What happens if it has to move, to wiggle, to stand on its own without context and be something that communicates message? What do you see? These are all necessary questions in producing an idea that takes advantage of this medium. And even though sometimes these challenges frustrate me, I am also incredibly excited by how still photographers see these things. The advent of accessible technology allows people with a new way of seeing things to access the tools they need and produce things that are uniquely stunning.
Recently I tripped over Those Who Make, a blog dedicated to visual content about makers, people who produce with their hands. The consistent cinematic feel and careful attention to framing reflects a higher standard of the moving image than in years past. To see heartwarming, effective content like the video above excites me that to no end, made possible by having accessible tools in the rights hands.
Take this as a challenge, an impetus, a catalyst to think and imagine in a manner beyond a static moment. That's the soapbox, thank you.