“If it doesn’t move, it’s dead.” Bryan Storm said this at a media workshop during the LOOK 3 Festival in Charlottesville, VA in 2011. People have always been intrigued by the lifelike quality of photography, even more so by that possessed by “moving pictures.
While waiting at the doctor today I was reading Stephen King’s On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft. He mentions that his family got their first television in 1958. My family beat his by one year. I can remember that because 1957 was the year UNC beat Kansas for the NCAA title. King points out that he is the last wave of writers who spent their time forming ideas from thinking and reading, and not watching whatever is served up on the tube.
Reading this started me thinking about television, movies, and photography. I realized that I had been present for most of the dramatic growth of the visual age if there is such a thing. Most photography schools are teaching video courses along side photography courses these days. The industry has become commercial studio work or editorial work making photos that persuade people to do something (buy or give). Many documentary projects are now video productions and we get them from cable TV or stream them from various Internet sites where most documentary workers hope to publish their work. The value of all this image making and video making to our lives remains an elusive target. It seems clear though that photography schools are more media than pure photography these days. Is this a good trend?
Two years ago attending the conference, LOOK 3, in Charlottesville, VA; I took a one-day seminar with Bryan Storm of Mediastorm. We spent the day dissecting one section of Danny Frazier’s Driftless: Stories from Iowa. The book published by the Center for Documentary Studies, Durham, had won the Honickman prize. Frazier later got together with the folks at Mediastorm to put more life into this project. This ended with a wonderful mix of still photos, video, and audio that is a spellbinding story. Clearly this was a project made better by the synergism that can exist when still photos, video, and audio are mixed. It was abundantly clear: Media Matters!
Today, I Googled “visual age” and one of the top sites was an advertisement for a program teaching how to better preach in this visual age. How to incorporate imagery into sermons, use media to accomplish the mission of the church, and so on was all over this site. I started this article with the mindset that still photography was dead or dying, hardly a new idea. The results of the Internet search seemed to support that thought. But I soon realized in conversation with a very helpful friend that when you see things like Driftless: Stories from Iowa and other more recent projects, many on the site Facing Change/Documenting America, it is clear that photography is alive and well, it just has some new and good friends.