Still photography vs. moving images

Reading this article, the suggestion is that video will soon entirely replace photography and that if we want a still image we'll just pick one individual frame for a video that we've shot. No more shooting individual images. Is that the future, regardless of whether we're professionals or just enjoy creating images?

Apple's 'Live Photos' now include a short video with every new photo as it's taken. Which could easily be taken to imply that we're already moving away from the still image. It's easier than ever to create good quality video and 4k means that the quality is good enough to extract a high resolution image from any frame. There are two reasons why I don't think this is the future though.

Firstly, the idea is to select a still image from a video while you're editing it. The problem is, who actually edits their own videos? Professional videographers do obviously, and YouTubers and media producers. But the vast majority of us, recording a night out or a family moment or a few selfies - do we want search through a video for the right shot to post online or make a print? Maybe an app will select the right frame for us. That could work, or at least it could give us a selection of what it thinks are the best frames so we can pick one. Maybe.

Secondly, I think our ever-diminishing attention span means that still images will remain appealing. It takes time to watch a video, whereas with a still image we can either scan over it or dwell for as long as we choose. It can quickly illustrate a point as we skim to the next news headline.

There is also a beauty and an art in the frozen moment, just as there still is from a good drawing or painting. That won't diminish. Video is closer to real life, recorded as we see it. A still image is a chosen moment that we may not have noticed as it flashed past us in real life.

The art of photography might continue to shift further towards the editing process, and I'm sure video recording will continue to become more widespread. But the art of the still photograph? I don't see that disappearing anytime soon. 

Paris, May 2014

Paris, May 2014