The art of still photography and the art of filmmaking have always been closely related: Think of Stanley Kubrick, whose experience as a photographer no doubt influenced his stylized films, or revolutionary photographers such as Robert Frank and William Klein who also shook things up with their experimental films. Today, however, the distinction between filmmakers and imagemakers is practically nonexistent. Rapid technology advances and exploding demand for all kinds of visual storytelling have led to a new creative hybrid — photographic artists who migrate seamlessly between the still and the moving image. In the following special section, American Photo goes behind the camera with six of these visual chameleons to uncover the secrets to their success. All of them have learned to capitalize on their multifaceted talents to help them go further in their favored field, be it hard-hitting photojournalism or beat-dropping music videos. But most important, they recognize that as the walls between mediums come down, those who can straddle the divide will be the ones still standing when the dust settles.
|Even with his expertise in video, though, McGee recognizes that not every news event needs to be taped. He advises photographers to think about each story separately and to decide from the beginning how best to represent it. Some events are just too slow and can be better represented by a series of stills and audio. In fact, McGee says he often starts planning his coverage of news events by thinking about the audio possibilities. Regardless of whether the visual image is moving or still, audio dictates what he can and cannot show.But in the end McGee has to be careful that the multimedia technology he uses doesn’t interfere with his primary job as a print photojournalist. “If I don’t come back with four or five great stills for the paper, I might as well not have gone,” he says.In 2007 McGee and the rest of the Free Press multimedia team were recognized for their innovation with a News and Documentary Emmy awarded in the brand-new broadband category for their ongoing Michigan Marines stories.McGee left the Free Press shortly after that to pursue work as a freelance photographer and videographer. But even with his achievements, he’s plagued by a kind of identity crisis. “Am I a photographer who does video, or am I a videographer who can get screengrabs?” McGee wonders.And news organizations still seem to be a little confused too. McGee has heard from Newsweek and World Picture Network that they will buy multimedia pieces, but they’re not yet making multimedia assignments.For now McGee is making a living shooting journalistic assets for an advertising campaign, enterprising multimedia packages, and working to stay informed about where the industry is headed. He has even toyed with the idea of starting an agency for multimedia storytellers like himself, because if there’s one thing he’s sure of, it’s that he’s not alone in his uncertainty. Just one month after he started a Multimedia from Photojournalists group on the social networking Website Facebook, it already had nearly 200 members. -Miki JohnsonChase Jarvis|