While I’ve spent a great deal of time over the last two years studying and shooting video on the hybrid DSLRs, I have to admit there’s one big advantage still photography has over video – at least for me personally. That is the ability to isolate the most powerful moments.
When you watch a video, you see many moments (anywhere from 24-30 typically) per second. It’s hard to isolate in your brain one precise moment and study it.
When you view a photograph – it’s as if time stood still for that moment. You get to really, really look deeply into that precise moment in time and study its inherent power. You get the chance to revel in it. You get the chance to marvel at it. You get the chance to catalog it in your brain forever. You get to celebrate it.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen plenty of moving, emotional, powerful video. But there’s just something special about still photography’s ability to capture that “defining” moment as Henri Cartier-Bresson said.
Most of you know that I love photographing birds. One of the advantages of photographing birds with still cameras is that you get to see them in a particularly intimate moment. The final flap of a wing before landing – the capture of a fish from the lake – the feeding of a chickall these moments “fly” by in real life at a pace that is so fleeting, you rarely see it or notice it.
Thanks to the power of photography to capture and isolate the most powerful moment, I’ve seen and studied things I never before knew existed. And one of the real advantages of that is I get to relive those moments over and over through the images I made. In the case of the photo above, we see why you don’t want to mess with a peregrine falcon – especially if you’re a pigeon!
I’ve written here before of our obligation to make sure our images are the best we can make them. These moments – these powerful moments that we capture – they are history for future generations. They are the present for us here and now, but later, after everyone who is currently reading this post is gone, the images will live on.
Make sure you remember this the next time you photograph a child or a bride or a bird or a car or a house or a sunset, etc. Remember that the capture of that powerful moment has more power than you may know.