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Photography versus video | by kevin dooley
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Photography versus video

Why do us dinosaurs cling to still photography when the rest of the world has turned to video? What is it about photography that is fundamentally different from video that makes it so appealing?


Part of photography’s magic is that is performs something that no other technology in the world can do—it stops time. While the content of a video may depict nonlinear or stopped time, it is still a temporal experience to the observer.


Still photographs are about the now. We can’t stop time in real life, but a photograph can. It allows our conscious to examine the moments that otherwise we can only experience subliminally, within a flow of reality. At the same time, a photograph explodes onto the viewer’s conscious immediately, unlike a video. While we may examine a photographic image for a period of time, or multiple times, our perception of the photo is still largely driven by that immediate judgment in the first second that we observe the image.


Ironically, photographs are also the best medium for us to see the progression of time. We can’t watch a 100-year long video to see if there’s been change in a glacier field, but we can look at two photographs a hundred years apart and see if there has been change.


What do you call a technology that can stop time and time travel?




(Lake of the Woods, Mahomet, Illinois, Diana+ medium format camera with Rollei Retro 100)

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Taken on June 23, 2009