“Let’s make a music video.”
“Esjih. It’ll be fun.”
That was basically a conversation my cousin Tara and I had early last year. Tara is a seasoned rap artist, currently based out of Saskatoon. She was working on the final songs for her first EP release, Diary of a Mad Red Woman. I had previously filmed scenes for her first video, Tha Truth, and she edited it. I didn’t know enough about film editing to even try.
So when she asked me to try again, I was nervous. Insecure. Give me a person to photograph, and I can rock it. Ask me to make a video, and I want to quickly yet quietly walk away. I was a photographer, not a videographer.
But it’s not like photographers don’t cross that chasm. I remember when Lightning Cloud’s “Walk Alone” came out, and I was struck by the visual imagery presented. When I looked it up and saw that the talented Tyson Anderson had directed and co-edited, I was all “yasssssssss.”
Doing some mini-research, it appears that this is a trend that goes beyond our rez-borders: even in mainstream media, there is an emergence of having photographers take over as visual directors for music videos. As photographers, we look for final visuals, memorable visuals…
“And that’s the trick: A key photographer will always help an artist put their best face forward. With no pesky dialogue or linear plot structure to get in the way, it becomes all about the image—and who better to create those?” – Janelle Okwodu, Voque
We spent the day together, working with local make-up artist, Kacey Beaudry, for two specific looks. In between latte’s and travelling throughout the city for shooting locations, we managed to walk away with some magic.
I then spent hours in front of the computer, playing, learning through mistakes and laughter. I worked with Final Cut Pro, after reading a few reviews of what programs work best for amateur videography. I stayed up late while my daughter slept, drawn in by a new creative expression. Tara came over few nights to fine-tune the final looks. While I know some prefer to have final control over their finished video, this was a serious collaboration between her vision and song and my interpretation of it.
Finally, we were done, and I felt ridiculously attached to the final outcome. It’s not perfect. A year later, and I’m looking at it again with new, critical eyes, picking apart what I would do if I had the chance, yet I’m still proud. I’m still happy with what remains.
And while I still gravitate towards my camera rather then video, it opened my eyes. I used to think that I could only be One Thing – a Photographer. And now, working with the talented artists on tea&bannock, working with the many powerful Indigenous individuals with my photography business, I see how creativity isn’t defined by strict borders. My mentors aren’t just one thing – they are professors, film directors, writers, poets, dancers, musicians, moms, and activists.
They create with many mediums, and now, I see the appeal.
– tenille campbell