It’s a few weeks since I started shooting this recent documentary and next week I leave town to capture the main event. I came across this piece on Art Shay as I searched for a distraction from shot lists and equipment requirements. Oddly enough, it acted as more of a reminder than a vacation from the project at hand.
Art Shay was born and raised in the Bronx. Perhaps the neighbourhood gave him a unique perspective on life, or maybe it was the 50-odd bomber missions he flew during WWII. No matter how you slice it, he is one of the greatest print photographers – and has long inspired the way I look at things.
I had heard his story behind the Marlon Brando before, and always admired the relationship between the two of them that I concocted in my head. It’s never a natural thing to have a camera shoved in your face. I’ve always believed that a mutual appreciation is needed to capture rare, natural moments. A quality needed for both still photography and documentary filmmaking.
The latter however requires one more step. A still photograph can stand alone and allow the viewer to create the story behind it – and thus create their own relationship with the subject. With video, however, pretty pictures can be befuddling when not properly paired with a clear story line. In fact, phenomenal cinematography is completely wasted on a poor story line.
Remember your arc. Remember that each story is often made up of many smaller stories. Bradley Rochford – the creator of this video – told the story of Art Shay with a collection of smaller stories. Each photograph had it’s own.
Remember to close off each smaller storyline you open, and remember to keep your stories all pointing the same direction. They all must fall within the arc.
Now it’s time I start practicing what I preach.