Late last year I was surfing the best video site around, if you love HD and are an artsy-fartsy videographer type, when I stumbled upon this brilliant, heartwarming little video project called My Family Portrait. The first one I watched was by Clan McCloud, and I was inspired to follow suit instantly, but the idea was birthed by Jared Foster. The concept is simple. Pretend your video camera is a still photography camera and take a "moving portrait" of each member of your family.
Doesn't sound all that phenomenal on the surface, I know, but take a look at this.
People HATE having their pictures taken, right? But a few snappity-snap-snaps and it's over. Kind of like a shot. The sharp burst of pain up front is worth it for the long term pay-off.
Not always the same with video.
Your subject knows that thing is rolling and capturing every moment. It's excruciating for them. You know it. They know it. It's written on their faces and therefore, written on the video.
After the first few painful moments, something enchanting happens. Not all of them, but most of them, transition from powerless and uncomfortable, to deliberately silly. It's almost as if our human nature brings us to this place where we realize we have two options. We can either look unintentionally ridiculous or intentionally ridiculous. And when we find ourselves at that intersection, there's really only one direction in which to travel.
My Family Portrait for the year 2008 was filmed during the November and December holidays. As you can see my in-laws are terrific. We alternate families each year, so this edition was my wife's side of the family. They had so much fun and tolerated me with more class and dignity than I deserved. I hope that years from now we will all look back and say that this little bit of medicine, that we each (myself included) stood still and took with more than a fair share of reluctance, was well worth the gift of letting our children and grandchildren see a younger version of ourselves smile directly into a camera and act like complete dorks.