Photo vs. Video: Don’t make me choose

They say it’s so arresting you forget to take out your camera. That, when it happens, all you can do is stand there like a child, feet planted on the ground, face to the sky, mouth open in awe.

Like the first time you saw fireworks... but a hundred times better.

They say the sky fills with thousands of golden lights and that, as they float up high, they turn to stars... and eventually fade away into the night.

But it all happens so fast. Sure, you can set your camera, but you can’t prepare for your own reaction. And no still photos can ever do it justice, anyway.

So this November during our Photo Expedition in Chiang Mai, Thailand, while we’re all holding our paper lanterns in our hands among thousands of Thais and foreigners alike, waiting for the magical moment to release them into the night...

I’m going to be prepared.

I’m going to set my camera on my tripod, and I’m going to turn it to video mode.  I’ll compose the shot while everyone is still frantic, getting ready for the big release.

Then I’ll set it up, hit the button, and let it be.

If I had to choose just one -- photo vs. video, for the rest of my life... I couldn’t do it.

Video captures motion and sound in ways that photos can’t.

But photos capture things you can’t see in videos. Those fraction-of-a-second moments that go by too fast unless they’re frozen in time.

French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson called it the “Decisive Moment.” When a kid jumps off a dock and you capture him in mid-air, just before his feet hit the water... when a father holds his newborn daughter in his arms for the first time and his eyes well up with tears… when the last box is packed and you’re standing in a completely empty house you’ve lived in for years – these are all  decisive moments. You can’t get that in a video.

Photos can tell a whole story in one single frame. Videos need thousands of frames, going by at 30 per second to tell a story.

But... if you ask me to choose I’m still going to use video for the most exciting experience of our Photo Expedition in Thailand. I don’t want to miss it. And I’m not sure I can capture the excitement and movement in a single frame.

Photo or video for life, however?

Don’t make me choose, because I want both, at different times, for different reasons.

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