Photographer Marcus Yam teamed with Nancy Donaldson, Catrin Einhorn and Meaghan Looram to win the first ever multimedia World Press Award for “The Home Front.” The piece was praised for its mix of photography, video and sound. According to Yam, the process of mixing mediums was a challenge; it was difficult to decide when to photograph, and when to keep the video camera rolling.
This is part II of our interview with Yam, where he discussed building trust and intimacy with his characters. (Read part I here.)
Photo Above: Sergeant First Class Brian Eisch weeps as he struggles to say goodbye to his children. Photo by Marcus Yam.
CV: From start to finish, how many days did you shoot?
MY: I can safely say I spent more than a week; 7 to 10 days of actual shooting time on the whole thing. That doesn’t count the time we spent huddling around, traveling time. In the newspaper world, you sort of have to be surgically precise about what you want. We go in when we want something and that’s it –that way we are not spending a lot of resources just standing around.
CV: In the piece you intermix video and audio. Was that a conscious decision from the start?
MY: Initially, it was really hard. I got to work with the Nancy Donaldson, she’s a famous multimedia producer. She drove it into my head: when you start shooting two things, video and photo, you have to pick and choose. In the homecoming scene, we decided we weren’t going to take any stills, and we just had the cameras rolling the entire time.
CV: What is the difference between photographing and shooting a scene?
MY: A video moment picks up things a photograph can’t do sometimes, and that’s why it’s very powerful. A video moment takes more than just a freeze frame of a body language, but the motion of a body language tells you a lot more than a freeze frame. I struggled to think about what I was going to see before a shoot, and I struggled with deciding what approach was best for a moment. You have to pick one thing, and know why you did it and stick with it. In the middle of shooting don’t change your mind, and go back to shooting stills, or: ‘I think i’m going to start shooting video.’
It was a constant back and forth with the producer. At the end of the day, I think we chose right.