In a photo.net article from 1998, author Philip Greenspun predicted that eventually “we’ll all probably just be using high-resolution video cameras and picking out interesting still frames. ” Skip ahead to 2011, and the available technology on HD video-enabled DSLR’s is making that possibility a reality, and it really concerns, indeed alarms me, when it comes to street photography.
I think about renowned street photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and the recently discovered Vivian Maier, and how a large part of their genius was a instinctive knowledge of when a moment or scene worthy of photographic capture was developing (no pun intended) coupled with the ability to capture and create the resulting compelling image.
If one sets up a camera on a tripod at a busy downtown intersection and record 30 minutes of Hi-def video, a frame by frame inspection will reveal plenty of “decisive moments” but it’s just not the same; the photographer is reduced to an editor, at best. One no longer needs the ability to see (as opposed to mere looking). It’s like throwing a bunch of canned loops together in a program like Garageband, and calling yourself a composer, without having written a single note yourself.
It would not surprise me to eventually see someone write an application that could find “Decisive Moments” in video, to give a photographer the ultimate in convenience for generating images.
Just don’t call it art.
My attempt at a decisive moment from the 2010 Toronto Marathon