Video; The daunting future?

Video; The daunting future?


For the past year or two I have been creating photo essays using only still images and some audio. Yet, I keep listening to photographers, well-respected in the business, telling me I need to get into video. This is intimidating for me. I used to work in video, years back. But, long since gave it up. Though my Canon 5D Mark II does shoot amazing video, even the thought of shooting it is way out of my comfort zone. On this trip to Sumatra I promised myself I would shoot some video. I did manage to get a few frames here and there, but I realized very quickly that video and stills photography are not an easy mix. It’s very hard to shoot video and stills at the same time. You almost need to set the time aside and shoot nothing but video. If you’re a still photographer like myself, you know how almost impossible that is to do. I literally think in still images. I attempted to retrain myself to think in motion. Yes, composition is very similar. But other things are different and it was a real struggle. That doesn’t even begin to talk about the huge learning curve with Adobe Premiere or After Effects. Now, I’m not saying, I’m going to give up shooting video. But, it’s going to be a slow road.

The other shooter on this trip, Nate Watkins is a natural with video. It seems to flow for him. Nate made the video above using some of my still images, some great video he shot with his Canon 7D and some audio we captured.  For you techie people, Nate edited this quick and dirty in iMovie. He used a kit lens on the Canon 7D. The audio was captured using his Sony PCM-M10 the little brother to my PCM-D50. Nate got this on my recommendation and I think he would say, he was not disappointed. This proved to be an outstanding small recorder half size and price of the PCM-D50. To give the sound that extra little boost we used an Electro Voice RE-50b hand held microphone. What this mic did was to narrow down the audio field and thus minimizing the background noise, yet still maintaining a full, rich sound. I think you will agree the combination of audio, video and stills works well together.

FaceBook Comments


About The Author

Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer. In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.


  1. Bernard Siao

    Well done Matt and Nathan. I agree….it’s difficult to wrap my head around stills, then doing video, paying attention to sound, etc. There’s no real easy way to do all that without sacrificing quality unless you work with a crew.

  2. Dustin Waller

    Totally agree with you.. I hope it continues to be an argument in fear that we will all have to learn video… and in turn buy more software, hardware and brain power 🙂

  3. Anonymous

    Great video. I totally agree it’s very difficult to do both. I had a chance to shoot with the 7D at my workshop last week and I couldn’t believe how easy it was to shoot video. While I love my 5D Mark II…I still wish it had a simple video on and off button!

  4. Jack

    Excellent post (and video – hats off to Nathan) Matt. My newspaper is rolling out 1D Mk IV bodies on the theory that we can quickly shoot “b roll” while we’re on assignments, for a local TV station that’s owned by the same parent corporation.

    I’ve been shooting with the 5D Mk2 since it came out, including some video, and tried to tell them that it’s no where near as easy as they think. They literally think we can hit the record button and let it roll. I tried to explain that shooting video with the 5D MkII or 1D MkIV (or 7D or …etc) is very easy. Shooting GOOD video with these cameras is just as complicated (or more so) than shooting good video with a video camera. You still need “sticks,” you still need audio, and audio with the dSLR is more complicated than good audio with a regular audio camera. Focusing on the LCD is tough, so you need a viewfinder. And by the time you put all that stuff on your camera you have a good video camera but awkward still camera.

    It’s a brave new, complicated, world.

  5. ian furniss

    First of all, I love the video and in my mind that’s probably a similar place to where i’ll be heading with video in my own working. I tend to digress slightly but it makes sense to me at least lol, but I think of it in terms of Jean Michel Jarre and how he created atmospheric compliments on albums like oxygene. As in this video, the photos remain the central focus, the video and audio only really acts to bring our other senses like hearing into the equation. In short, a compliment not a substitute.

    On the larger question of “should photographers shoot video?” and I think that question is answered by the question we’re likely all familiar with “Does picking up a camera make you a wedding/trave/whatever photographer?” . The usual answer I hear is a resounding ‘no!’ and i think the same applies to video. If you want to be considered a videographer then it’s going to need a lot of work putting into it. At that point i start wondering if the level of time required can be put in without it being detrimental to other areas or skills. I don’t know the answer, but I suspect it would be, and in the long run a balance would be found that strengthens one at the expense of the other.

    As i say, i could well be wrong, but that’s my current concern whilst contemplating adding it to my skillset. Certainly, it’s a daunting future! 🙂

  6. Anonymous

    Was the whole thing done in iMovie? Gosh, I can’t stand that app! But I don’t know what else to use yet for blending still and motion. FCE seems like it could be overkill. I want to take the leap. Feel ready to attempt it. But the audio quality will be a learning curve for sure!

  7. Fred Lee

    Hey Matt! great stuff, I’ve been experimenting with video a lot, love it, hope things are going well!

  8. mattbrandon

    Jack, You underpinned my point well. Shooting video on a DSLR is hard, not that it can’t be done, but it is a lot harder a hand held video camera and can not be considered something we can do on the side on a whim.

  9. Andy Wilson

    A hot topic if ever there was one. I think fo rmost people I have to agree with you Matt, it is really very difficult to shoot good still and good video all at the same time. It’s not the equipment (though you have to solve extra problems like keeping the camera still and how to light when natural lighting needs bolstering). It’s the ‘nut behind the wheel’. We are not made to be multi-taskers. Now it might be possible to shoot stills in the morning and video in the afternoon but I am guessing that it will take as long to develop good video skills as good. And not just the technical skills and issues. They are loosely related but distinctly different forms of visual storytelling.

    Then there’s solving the audio side of it all, and my observation that most videos require a lot more co-operation from others even if you can get away without a ‘crew’. “Excuse me, sir, could you just spare a couple of hours for me to get enough clips to make 20 seconds of video?” is a lot less likely to succeed than asking for 3 minutes to do a quick portrait.

    Having said that I would love to be able to add video to the mix as I am more an more defining my leanings as ‘visual storyteller’ than photographer. But I suspect with a ‘wife and two’ and a rather engrossing ‘day job’ progress will be slow on this front. Anyway I have purchased Robert McKee’s “Story.” To get the old mental juices flowing a bit.

    Enjoyed the video,though I felt there was a little bit of ‘chop’ (for want of a better word) at the switch between audio tracks on a coupel of occasions. That might have been a planned effect but my personal taste would have been for a little more smoothness. Not that I am an expert – take that with a pinch of salt!

  10. David Simon

    Hi Matt, I found your blog from Jeff Lynch. I like this video about coffee worker in Lampung. It’s just awesome and inspiring since I live in Indonesia but have never been to coffee plantation. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  11. Sinartus

    Hi Matt. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas with all of us. Really appreciate your openness. I am curious of the following setup “This proved to be an outstanding small recorder half size and price of the PCM-D50. To give the sound that extra little boost we used an Electro Voice RE-50b hand held microphone.” On your recommendation, I am also thinking of getting the Sony PCM-M10 but I am wondering whether you will need additional equipment such as a phantom power unit to operate a handheld mic such as the one mentioned above. I am thinking of just getting a lavalier mic for interviews and just using the built in mic for ambiance. Do you think this will give a reasonable good output without the Hzz in the background? Many thanks once again.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Review: Mindshift Gear PhotoCross 13

Are You a Traveler?



Pin It on Pinterest

Did you find this interesting content?

Why not share it with your network?