Still Photos That Move: Has Photography Come Full Circle? : The Picture Show Before motion pictures, there were still images. Now still cameras are being used to produce video. Has photography come full circle?
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Still Photos That Move: Has Photography Come Full Circle?

Ryan Enn Hughes makes videos. No, wait — he makes photos. I mean, he makes videos out of photographs. Or stop-motion photographic videos. Whatever. Just watch this:

The medium may defy category — Hughes calls it "interdisciplinary" — but these are basically examples of stop-motion animation. With the support of a Chalmers Arts Fellowship, the Toronto-based photographer is using the same technique employed by claymation animators (remember Gumby?), in which still photographs are strung together to create motion. But in this case, the subjects are live dancers, not lumps of clay.

Hughes' interest in motion pictures began in film school. An eye for cinematography led to still photography, and now he navigates the space between the two by making "stills" that move. After all, motion pictures are essentially just that — except traditionally shot at 24 or 30 frames per second instead of the one or two frames per second fired by Hughes. So, has photography just come full circle?

"The big thing," he told me over the phone, "is that the tools are crossing over." More and more digital still cameras are incorporating video capabilities. There have been Hollywood TV shows and documentary films shot entirely by DSLRs.

Hughes says the benefit of using a digital SLR camera over a movie film camera is that it's lighter, so he can experiment and maneuver easily and without the weight of a 5-person camera team. A lot of "RGB Move" (above) was devised on the fly, testing different shots and seeing what worked. "Controlled chaos," Hughes calls it.

His next project will employ 48 still cameras arranged in a circle, providing a 360-degree view of the subject, similar to how those iconic "bullet time" scenes in The Matrix were filmed. The result will be 48 still images of the same moment from different angles, but Hughes wonders: Will it be considered photography?

What do you think?