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There are no hard and fast rules, as with any artistic or creative pursuit, however, there are many working professionals who advise that it’s usually better to master photography before you take the leap into the world of videography.
Photography will give you an invaluable grounding in the basics of composition, lighting, different types of shots and the incredible results you can achieve with a single image. Once you have become competent in these areas you can more easily transition to videography, taking your photography skill set with you. Everything you have already learned is transferable to videography and will give you a great foundation on which to build.
Why Should You Learn Photography First?
As with most artforms, it’s always better to master the fundamentals before you move on to more complex aspects of it. Photography is undoubtedly the best way to learn about how to create a powerful image on a screen and skipping this out will inevitably show through at times in your videography.
Working with still images is the best way for you to clearly focus on the basics. In a single image there are dozens of things you need to be considering before you even take the shot. After you have taken your picture you can go back and study what went right and what went wrong. In this way you can quickly increase your understanding, particularly with a bit of help or tuition.
- Exposure. As you develop your skills in photography you will become adept at creating photos with perfect exposure that have the right balance between shutter speed, ISO and aperture. This is not an easy thing to do straight away but once you have learned the basics you will have a solid grounding from which you can grow.
- Framing an image. When you’re learning how to frame the subject of a photo being able to narrow down your focus and work with single images is a much easier way to develop an understanding of what works and what doesn’t. You’ll need to use framing techniques in your videography work but getting comfortable with it in photography is a lot easier.
- Working with photography gives you the chance to try out new things, one at a time. This allows you to practise the skills you’ll need, in both still photos and videos, in a fairly controlled and orderly way. You can follow a course structure, and study aperture, shutter speed and ISO. You can then move on to more abstract concepts such as composition and narrative. Working on things in an ordered and controlled manner will give you a deeper understanding of what’s really going on as opposed to trying to figure it all out on the fly with the camera rolling continuously.
The Learning Curve in the Creative Arts is Steep!
Photography is absolutely unforgiving! If you make a mistake, or get something wrong in a photo, there is no skipping over it and going to the next scene because it is staring you in the face! If you get the focus or depth of field wrong and your subject’s face is blurry for example, then you need to correct that which means knowing how to do it.
You’re going to face dozens, if not hundreds, of situations like that and you will be forced to deal with each issue, one at a time. This may sound off putting but it’s just another way of saying that the learning curve is steep and in no time at all, with a bit of patience and practise, you will have ironed out most of the basic mistakes. This will stand you in good stead to later move on to work with video footage.
The great thing about photography is that everything you learn can be taken with you to the field of videography; and not only video, but also any other creative pursuit because the underlying principles are fairly universal.
Videography is as much an extension of photography as it is an extension of the novel or theatre play. All that you learnt in photography will be extremely helpful in the practical aspects of filming however you’re also going to have to learn about storytelling, setting a scene and the ways you can use compositional motifs throughout a piece of footage.
And let’s face it, videography is hard! It may not seem that way if you’ve ever pulled out your camera phone at an event and filmed 20 seconds of your favorite band on stage but in the world of professional videography this type of thing really won’t cut the mustard!
What About Film School?
One of the best ways to learn videography is to study at a film school, do online courses or get an apprenticeship. However, even as you do so, you will always be advised to take still photos as well. This is useful, in fact essential, to create storyboards, to map out sequences in an advert, short films or even a Hollywood blockbuster!
You will also be encouraged to use still photography to test out different color combinations, quickly try a compositional set up or even to see if the characters ‘look’ right for a particular scene!
Starting Out With Photography is the Traditional Route.
When you’re studying and learning to take great photos you’ll also be training for a future in videography as well. There are other incredibly useful avenues that you explore which will feed into both still photos and video. For instance, you should spend some time appreciating the history of art and how the different styles, genres and artforms have evolved over time, fed into each other and continue to influence the creative world today. There are other more theoretical paths that you can follow including Color Theory, which will help you to combine colors in contrasting or complimentary ways to bring out subtler meanings on an almost subconscious level in your work.
In all cases, whatever you are studying, you should certainly consider applying for an apprenticeship or mentoring program because the opportunity to work with a real pro will open up huge new areas of understanding in your development!
The Skills Are Transferable.
Both photography and videography have transferable skills but the easiest direction of travel for most people is from the later to the former. Photography will teach you everything you need to know about composition, exposure, the light spectrum, basic editing and post production.
Operating videography equipment is pretty complex and there are far more moving parts than still photography requires. Having a good grounding in the fundamentals will mean that once you move on to video you can focus on learning how to use the equipment and film continuous footage.
You’ll Need To Learn About Audio and Camera Angles For Videography.
Another major aspect of videography that you’ll have to learn to use effectively is the audio element of a recording. You’re going to need to be able to film great footage and capture the audio in an appropriate way, which will require different techniques for different situations – all this has to be learned and perfected.
Videography often requires you to work from multiple camera angles at once. This is a tough skill to learn and takes a lot of practise to select the right angles to create the final cut you envisage.
Once you move on to videography you’ll have to learn about how to move from one scene to another, how to follow a moving subject and plan out effective storyboards. The editing and post production process is also far more complex than in still photography and so if you already have a good understanding of what’s possible you’ll be well on your way to creating outstanding footage for your clients.
Learn the Basics with Photography then Move on to Video.
In the modern world, with the huge technological leaps in camera equipment, and the falling price of high quality gear, you really can, and probably should, be doing both still photography and videography! Clients are increasingly expecting you to be able to deliver on both, and while photography is, and will remain, in high demand, there is a real surge in videography in every sector from corporate events, to weddings and even real estate!
It’s an exciting journey, to grow from photography to videography, but you need to plan ahead and give yourself the time to learn things in the right order. The traditional route is to go from photography to videography and as a general rule this is still the best way to approach it.
Do you plan on learning photography first before moving on to videography?
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