All art forms have their strengths and their shortcomings. It's easy enough to understand that sculpture and acting are completely different, and no one has ever mistaken a song for a painting. Yet, there are far more subtle nuances to discover. I remember when I first realized there was a difference between the written word and the spoken word. The differences may seem insignificant at first, but there is a potency in how they are felt.
As someone who makes a living taking pictures and makes films for passion I’m intrigued by the way we respond to a photograph as compared to a moving image. It seems clear to me that no other medium has such a strong undertone of storytelling as filmmaking.
Instead of filming one second what if I simply shot one photograph every day? Even if the subject matter is identical the end result would feel completely different. It’s almost as if the pictures are clues, and you have to imagine the rest:
Moving images, on the other hand, carry momentum and a plot line. You no longer have to imagine what is happening. Instead, you wonder what it means:
I’m not sure if it’s the way we are wired or the way we’ve been conditioned, but there’s something about watching a moving image that signals to us there’s a story involved. We don’t get that same feeling when looking at a photograph, or a painting, or a sculpture. Yet, when we see one moving image juxtaposed next to another moving image we make a mental connection between them and assume eventually there will be another moving image that somehow makes sense of them. It’s as if we want there to be a story —some hidden truth flickering right in front of us.
While our eyes take in the visual components of composition, lighting, and focus our minds and hearts absorb the imagery on a very different level. This is true whether we’re viewing a moving image or a still one. However, the two are not interchangeable. What makes a good photograph often makes a boring film. Beautiful landscapes and portraits provide endless fascination when frozen in time, but they are incredibly dull in a moving picture. Our first clue should be in the name itself: moving pictures. This medium is at its best when it shows movement, action, progress. Take a picture of a beautiful sunrise and you can bottle up the feelings it conjures. Take a time lapse series of that same sunrise and what you get is not a pill bottle of emotion, but rather an emotion generator. Watching something unfold produces a sequence or shift of emotion. The emotional state changes because of the action. It's dynamic.
When done well these moving pictures also move us. We aren't the same after experiencing them.
Photographs and tattoos and literature and dance can move us too, but they all impact us in different ways. The real magic is found when your idea is planted in the best possible medium for it to grow and thrive. You won’t find palm trees growing among pine trees. Each has a proper place and context, just like your ideas and stories.