22 May 2019
Visual Communication

Photography Equals Video – Think Again

A video is a moving photo, right? Wrong. Oh so wrong. Professional photographers and videographers know this. But clients commissioning and paying for content constantly conflate the two outputs.

To be fair, the confusion is compounded by photographers confidently offering videography as a service. Many photographers are excellent videographers. But this doesn’t mean that photography and videography are the same.

They are not.

Differences, similarities

Photography is as complex and nuanced as any art form. A good photograph will contain narrative depth. But the fact is a photograph is still a snapshot of a moment in time. More akin to a painting than a film.

Video is an amalgam of image, audio, narrative and time. With time being the most notable difference between photography and videography. Video by definition moves along a timeline. It is about images and sound in flow and combining to tell us a story. For that reason video is complex and has the capacity to engage with its audience on a very deep level.

It is more like a song than a picture.

Whether produced as a team effort or as a one-man band, video and photography share much in common in their production process. They have a preparation, film and edit workflow. And in many cases the same equipment. But video is more complex to finish than photography. By its nature it has more material (audio, graphics, multiple frames) to compile within the editing process itself.

So what?

Why does this matter? Because when it comes to valuing and pricing there is a world of difference between creating the two forms of content. Whereas commercial photography has largely kept its worth in the marketplace, video production has gradually lost its value. The gap between the pricing for the two outputs is shrinking. And in some cases video prices are dipping below those of photography production.

This is because photography has ballast. A heritage. With practitioners who know their worth and clients who expect to pay a certain price. But video is the new kid on the block. It can struggle to define its production complexity and its contribution to the marketing mix.

It’s not just that there are more videographers in the market, which lowers the price of video production (this applies to photographers too). It is the fact that the publishers and clients do not understand how the two outputs differ.

Look to their beginnings

Commercial video has sprung out of the old broadcast/programme silo where it was highly valued and still commands reasonable budgets. This means its practice only ever affected those in an industry which was pretty opaque until the internet revolution.

Those in TV and today’s paid-for news and programme platforms understand the up-skilling and management required to make engaging video content. And, on the whole, they accept the budgeting and are prepared to pay a price that will ensure good video is produced.

But it is very different for those brands wishing to become video content publishers. The only handle they can get on video production is to equate it with something utterly familiar. i.e. photography.

Brands have long worked with photographers. Marketing departments understand photography; it is their meat and drink.

On the other hand, video as marketing content is still an interloper. Even in these heady days of knowing that it is video which sells products and services; especially on mobile, its complexity is little understood.

If marketers fail to care about how video is made, or equate it with photography, brands run the risk of making poor video that won’t do its job and ultimately undermine the products it sets out to sell.

Nicky Robertson is Managing Director of Mendip Media with 20 years plus of experience in TV and commercial video production. Mendip Media offers a complete visual content service including video, specialist video (aerial filming & 360), animation, photography and studio hire.