People riding motorbikes

Susan Sontag and telling stories through video


“The knowledge gained through still photographs will always be some kind of sentimentalism, whether cynical or humanist. It will be knowledge at bargain prices–a semblance of knowledge, a semblance of wisdom;”

“Photography implies that we know about the world if we accept it as the camera records it. But this is the opposite of understanding, which starts from not accepting the world as it looks. All possibility of understanding is rooted in the ability to say no. Strictly speaking, one never understands anything from a photograph.”

“A way of certifying experience, taking photographs is also a way of refusing it…”

“The person who intervenes cannot record; the person who is recording cannot intervene.”

–Susan Sontag “On Photography. I. In Plato’s Cave”

Quote source

For me this quote also extends itself to the video camera. When the center of attention is placed on the ‘camera’ itself ie staging photographs/videos, does that then change the very nature of a photograph/video and the story it tells? Does it become something new?

It’s always good to remember that the story isn’t about you or the camera, it’s about people you are recording and their stories. In a lot of instances to tell a story through video you have to ‘intervene’. Which is why being aware of what Sontag is saying is really important. Valuing relationships of the people you are capturing video of is just as important as capturing the footage itself. People are more receptive to doing interviews or talking about something if you have already developed relationship with them. In turn you get a much more ‘authentic’ story.

While it’s a bit out of left field, the documentary 12′ oclock boys is really a good example of this style. There are certainly shots that are staged and the camera is clearly intervening, however the overall ‘voice’ of the story comes from those that are in the documentary, not the creators of the documentary. You really get the sense that the camera is just capturing what is in front of it……



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