Making the Move to Hybrid Photography: The Future of Commercial Photographers?

By J. Christy McKibben

Technology today is ever-changing, and this is no different in the world of Commercial Photography. To keep up with this technology, and the gap that seems to be closing in between photography and videography, photographers need to have at least a basic understanding of how to shoot video. Hybrid photography is an up-and-coming blend of photography, movement, and even sound; and it may be the future of Commercial Photography.

Giggles, Gallops, and Accents

What exactly is hybrid photography? According to ImageMaven, “Hybrid photography is the combining of photos + video + audio. The resulting format is a video eProduct that is viewable on mobile devices, social media, your website, YouTube and other video sharing services.”

There are already working examples of this new hybrid technology. Vincent Laforet, a former Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times staff photographer several years ago “moved to L.A. to embark on a new career as a director of photography on movies.” Laforet is working with a hybrid stills-plus video camera and states that working with it “is one of the most dramatic things to happen in the history of video. Now, for a small investment, you can shoot videos that look as good as (shooting) film with motion-picture equipment that sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Hybrid Equals Success

We will explore the benefits Commercial Photographers may find in learning new hybrid technology. For the sake of their businesses, it is imperative that they understand, and try to embrace as much as possible, this new technology. It may just get them ahead of their competition.

Hybrid photography will be important because it’s what clients are beginning to ask for, and photography is a business like anything else—so you’ve got to please the client! At this point hybrid photography is a new medium, but in the future the expectation of a Commercial Photographer will be that they have hybrid photography skills. There is a precedence to that prediction. According to Giulio Sciorio, “[back when] we transitioned from film to digital photography…” [it eventually became a requirement that photographers know how to work with digital. So, in the future if you choose to just photograph stills…great—you can work in photography as a hobby; but if you are only able to offer] “one product and one that is not in demand” you will not have a successful business.

Give It to Them!

Another reason hybrid photography may change the way Commercial Photographers work and are defined is because of the ability to capture that one special moment in time. Patrick Hall states “because video currently captures 24 – 300 frames a second, it becomes possible to record the absolute perfect shot of wildlife or a key moment during a sporting event. Combine these high frame rates with the growing need for web resolution media and you have a pretty powerful new tool for the photojournalist.” Because video captures so many frames, “we are now able to pinpoint the exact fraction of a second that a real genuine emotion happens, and those tiny changes in expression can produce completely different reactions from the audience viewing the media…[so it’s] easy to see how ultra high definition video could be a huge game-changer.”

Some Commercial Photographers may not welcome hybrid photography with open arms. There will surely be some who will refuse to move away from traditional Commercial Photography, and there will more than likely be many who will venture into hybrid photography begrudgingly. But if an individual wants to survive as a Commercial Photographer, they may not have a choice whether to make the move to hybrid photography. People and businesses want what they want, and will not be discouraged by a Commercial Photographer refusing to do hybrid photography. They will just move on and hire someone who will do as they wish. As Will Crockett states “Think what people want and let’s go give it to them. Not what we can do and try and sell it to them.” If people and businesses choose to use hybrid photography, it is not the job of the Commercial Photographer to talk them out of it. Their job is to figure out how to give the client or prospective client what they want and find a way to make it happen.

Differentiate Yourself

These changes in Commercial Photography will make photographers even more valuable than they are today; as long as they continue to educate themselves about the ever-changing technologies. Giulio Sciorio states, “Shooting a hybrid of stills, motion and sound has many benefits to the working professional.” According to Giulio Sciorio, the benefits of hybrid photography include:

  • “Everyone with a phone has the ability to shoot HD video. It is our job to differentiate ourselves from these consumers.
  • Shooting a hybrid of still, motion and video well separates you from the consumer.
  • Offering additional services such as motion capture gives your business another service to offer your clients.
  • Offering new services such as hybrid e-products will help you grow your current clients as well as attract new clients.”

Gail Mooney, who works as a still photographer and filmmaker, believes there are ten things that can help professional photographers sustain a long career:

  1. “Grow or die
  2. Be yourself
  3. Don’t operate in a vacuum
  4. Don’t focus on the gear
  5. Embrace failure
  6. Do the work
  7. Get rid of the resistance
  8. Don’t set out to prove yourself
  9. Enjoy the good times – but be prepared for the bad times
  10. Keep your passion and enthusiasm”

As you can see, Mooney’s tips may actually be applied to any career. These are especially good suggestions for Commercial Photographers as they move into hybrid technology—and the unknown future of photography. Commercial Photographers aren’t going anywhere. But, they must accept that technology is changing. The definition of a photographer, as we know it now, may be much different in the future.

J. Christy McKibben

Image 1 via Wikimedia Commons by Victor Grigas
Image 2 via flickr by brando
Image 3 via PIXY#ORG


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