John proposed the idea to the entire EventDV 25 in early 2006, shortly after we revealed the list at the 4EVER Group's Video 06 in Orlando in January. The purpose of the gathering, as he envisioned it, was to assemble this group that had been honored as industry leaders and discuss how they could lead the industry most effectively. I'd like to think that none of the 25 would have made the list in the first place if they hadn't already taken up the cause of industry leadership, whether by education, innovation, or example—or, in most cases, a bit of all three.
To me, much of what was revelatory about the discussions that emerged in those two heady days were the topics that didn't take precedence. There was so little talk of gear and the must-have wonders of high-definition video that you never would have guessed you were among vanguard figures in an industry that is so dependent on the hands-on use of ever-changing technology, and so overwhelmed by HD hype.
Even if HD is the technological building block of event videography's future (and make no mistake, it is), no videographer is going to build a future in videography on technology alone. Our industry is full of techno-geeks—people who love to use it and love to talk it. And while everyone at the EventDV 25 gathering obviously knew his or her way around a camera, as a group they were more interested in what they can do with that camera than how many pixels it's packin', and were more effusive about the art and business of their trade than its techno-tools.
What we did talk about was imaging principles, and the need for videographers to start thinking of their shooting in these terms (terms heretofore known, tellingly, as "photographic principles"); storytelling techniques; ways of increasing sales by adding more products to sell (Mike Nelson will be taking this message to the streets when he makes his debut as an EventDV columnist this month); and an intricate formula Brett Culp devised for videographers to "find their price," based on a combination of market conditions, a realistic assessment of their abilities vis-à-vis others in their market, and a handful of other contributing factors.
One HD-related issue that did surface was the prospect of photography and videography merging with the increasing use of camcorders that capture enough pixels to deliver viable photographic images (at the alarming rate of 60 full frames per second when 1080p60 camcorders arrive in force). Some videographers expect this development to prove a boon to their businesses, as it will allow them to do two jobs (and effectively book two gigs) with one camera, but the group at the Goolsbys' seemed to look at it differently. The consensus was that this will not so much increase the income of videographers as fuel the antagonism between videographers and photographers, and probably cost videographers some referrals from their photographer peers.
Unless your dream is to become a first-rate videographer and third-rate photographer with few if any friends in the photography camp, the best way to prepare for this eventuality may be to shore up your other referral resources because of the damage that people who go this route will do. As for combining the two crafts in a single camera, it comes back to the imaging principles issue—besides the fact that you're simply capturing many fewer pixels than a photographer working with even a halfway-decent camera, if you're framing spectacular video, odds are you're not framing great photography in the same shot.
These are all contentious issues. I wouldn't expect two videographers in ten to operate with the same imaging principles, cite the same differences between how successful videographers shoot and how successful photographers shoot, agree on the best way to tell a story, or adopt the same formula for setting their prices. But there are right and wrong ways to frame the issues, and what a group like the EventDV 25 can and should accomplish in this industry—if event video is to function as some kind of industry, rather than a bunch of people doing the same type of work in total isolation—is to make sure we're all asking the right questions before we settle on our answers.
And as we usher in a new EventDV 25 this month—with 13 new honorees among them—and in some respects bid farewell to last year's eminently distinguished group, it's worth pointing out that an All-Star is always an All-Star. Cal Ripken doesn't cease to be the starting shortstop on the 1989 American League All-Star team just because he didn't start the next year, or moved to third base a few years later. The way I see it, we've now had the opportunity to recognize the thirty-eight most influential videographers in the business. And to all our honorees, past and present, I say this: as your numbers multiply, go forth and influence.
Stephen F. Nathans is editor-in-chief of EventDV.