Wings & Waves of Why

Because I can't imagine a single photo telling a story like this

The world being awash as it is these days with great still photography, it’s little wonder that I frequently receive links from folks I know who are moved to share images that moved them — flatteringly — to think of me.

Uncomfortably for me, however, such kind thoughts often arrive with a question — “How come you always shoot video, not photos?” To which I always answer — “Good question!”

I wish I knew.

Clips like the one above, however, do provide clues. For shutterbugs of both camps, the irresistible allure of image quest begins the same, I think, with simple attraction to something beautiful — what’s not to love, for example, about a gorgeous pair of funny, flighty wonders vociferously living unseen natural lives amidst exploding ocean waves roaring universal approval? Squeezing all that into a single split-second click of a camera shutter is not easy, and I tip my hat, humbly and sincerely, to every still photog who tries. I hit my knees before those who actually succeed.

But even great photos leave me wanting … more.

Video triumphs over still photography (IMHO) by combining sound and motion to create e-motion, conveying a deeper sense of a subject’s essence and environment by involving more senses. Video viewers see more, hear more — feel more. Suddenly, in the clip above, two birds transcend their single-frame cover image (enticing as it may be) to become moving, squawking, living beings with which the whole world can easily empathize on a whole ‘nother level.

To wit, look at the clip again at 00:35. Who hasn’t waited expectantly at home for a “significant other” to return? People the whole world ’round can immediately identify with a Mr. returning home to a loving Mrs. (and sometimes vice versa) waiting to welcome his or her “better half” after a long day at the office. And video gives us a much fuller picture of the interaction above than we could ever get from a single photo. Though I admittedly speak only a little oystercatcher, I think you’ll find the following translation to be pretty accurate:

Crossing the threshold and failing to greet her with a loving peck on the cheek — er, beak — this silly S.O.’s first mistake is unmistakably obvious to seasoned males of virtually every species and culture on this planet. He foolishly doubles his trouble straightaway by peeking expectantly under her feathers to see what treasures await his return. If he’d been even slightly attentive to her rigid body language … taken a step back, or a moment to think … he probably would not have sealed his fate by exclaiming:

What have you been doing all day? I thought you said you’d be busy laying eggs!”

Her day, for a dozen reasons we’ve all experienced in our own lives, has of course not unfolded as she had planned. Thus frustrated and defensive — with no eggs to show — her silent demeanor screams so loudly that even a blind man (er, bird) could see how she’s been dreading this moment for hours. Having long since decided her best hope of defense must come from a strong, preemptive offense, she wastes no time putting him back not just on his heels, but more importantly — in his place.

“Whoa! Whooa! Whooooa!” we hear him shriek at 00:35 above in clueless shock and surprise, raising his hands (er, wings) in the universal sign of retreat and submission every new husband so quickly learns, as the full force and effect of his errors at last become clear to him. Her message succinctly delivered, the balance of power between the two shifts quickly back toward equilibrium again, as feelings and feathers on both sides ruffle back into proper place.

Eager to restore and preserve The Relationship (universally understood by females of every species on the planet to be the most sacred aspect of this drama), our heroine here misses not a moment to assuage his alarm and redirect his unknowing attention:

“How was your day cracking shellfish along the shoreline, darling?”

He melts instantly, of course. And before anyone can say “big orange beaks,” they are a cozy couple once again, winging off in close formation to a fancy dinner reservation at their favorite mussel shoal, as the rising tide applauds thunderously their beautiful birdly being.

Can you really imagine a story like this being told by a single still photo? Me neither. And now you know as much about what I do, and why I do it the way I do, as do I.


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