New trends in motion photography: Moving Portraits and Vertical Video

by planetmitch5 Comments

New HDSLR cameras (like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II) as well as new playback devices like the iPad and digital picture frames are allowing people to think outside the traditional photography box. Several new ideas are popping up around the web but “moving portraits” and “vertical video” (also called tallscreen) have caught my eye several times lately and professional photographers should pay attention. Just like “fusion” (another example) has helped many photographers stand out in their market, these new ideas may just help you catch the eye of clients and bring you to the front of the market.

Redrock Micro

The idea behind a “moving portrait” is just an extension of the regular still portrait – but expand that with a short video of the person – maybe 30 seconds. My first exposure to it was from David Harry Stewart. Last December, he showed me his “Moving Photograph” where he had an actress go from happy to sad within a 30 second timeframe.

He also has another example (the blog image is taken from this one) which is just a simple video of a young man looking around. “Moving Picture 2” is really more of what I am thinking a moving portrait will be in the future.

Moving Picture 2 by David Harry Stewart

Imagine clients buying these moving portraits to put in their iPad or their digital picture frame! Imagine a bride and groom presenting a fusion movie of the wedding along with several moving portraits on a digital picture frame to their parents!

These new devices play movie clips now and are the perfect device to sit on someone’s desk or wall (the iPad on a wall? See the iPad + velcro). Sure, creating these will take a little bit of extra effort for the portrait photographer (there are instructions), but with cameras like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II that have the video function built in, you might be able to even shoot the video without the subject knowing your doing it and then surprise them with it when you present the package.


Going one step further is the “vertical video” – taking the HDSLR and turning it to the traditional “portrait” orientation and shooting video. We did a post on this several months ago. Most still photographers have done this by accident (I know I have) because we’re used to turning the camera to get the best orientation for the image. But why not go ahead and do this for video? Well, the main reason has been that the video processing software isn’t designed for it. But yet several people are figuring out how to do it. There’s even a group over on vimeo exploring the vertical video (they call it tallscreen) aspect, but they’re doing it for artistic reasons. But yesterday, I found this version that is a “vertical portrait” done in the style of the “moving portrait”. I think it is pretty cool!

So, while you’re taking your next portraits of a client, why not press the movie button and see what happens? You might just find a whole new niche for your studio!

(Photo credit: snap from the video by David Harry Stewart)


Corrie Davidson
Corrie Davidson

I love the vertical portrait idea for clothes shopping.... but I must point out that Harry Potter already did all of this ;)


another use for "vertical" video is greenscreening, been done for many years, allows you to capture a full-length scene while being closer and having a fair amount of real estate to re-comp in post. One of the cool things about the HD-SLR's is the size of your support. It takes a much heavier rig, and specialized heads, to put a full-size video camera on a 90-degree pitch (although I haven't tried compositing out footage from our 7D or 5DmII, I am not sure how the colorspace will handle it compared to our regular 4:2:2 footage)


Cool! I've been doing 'video portraits' and 'moving photos' a lot lately. I use a 7D. They're slightly more complex than this, but still devoid of narrative. Here's my latest: And one I shot in 720 slo-mo: I'm definitely going to try to do a few in "tallscreen"! Thanks for this article!


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