The Perfect Debut


Photo by Chris X Carroll

It was the perfect opportunity—shooting a cover and an ad campaign for a novel, where the client asked if we could “shoot a little video” to make a trailer. I had a brand-spanking-new Canon EOS 5D Mark II, but had yet to press the Big Button that activated the video function.

I had been shooting digital stills for some five years, using my “film killer” Canon EOS-1Ds. Rumor had it Canon had added video shooting to the 5D as almost an afterthought. People wanted to shoot “Live View,” looking at the big little monitor on the back rather than through the viewfinder. At that point, adding the ability to actually record all those frames the camera was pushing to the monitor was cake. When Look at Flower came along, it seemed a godsend. What better way to experiment with new technology than a paid gig?

And what a project to start on: The model playing our protagonist Flower was gorgeous, swan-like and game. My whole crew was there, including wardrobe and makeup and hair. Oh, yes, the hair; Talia had great hair, and we planned to use it. All the pieces were in place. The stills we already shot were beautiful; I couldn’t wait to get to the video.

Moving the camera didn’t occur to me, so we shot on a tripod—gorgeous beauty shots, shallow depth of field provided by my trusty Canon 50mm ƒ/1.2 shot not quite open but close enough to give that lovely bokeh with sharp eyes. Hair blowing in and out of frame, a giant fan positioned right next to the camera. Talia may not be an actress, but she’s a gorgeous model. Moving pictures. I know how to make pictures; making them move should be no big. Same light, lens, exposure, everything, just pushing a different button. How different could it really be? Truly, what could go wrong?

Everything. Everything ever. Perceptive readers will note clues, liberally sprinkled above, to some of the ensuing disasters. Others I’m holding in reserve, to bust out when my self-esteem is feeling unusually robust and I need a comeuppance. This video project ended up being fine in the end, but the path there was long and torturous. I still feel like I learn something with each video shoot I do, and I don’t mean in a good way. I mean, “That thing I did? Don’t do that.”

Over the ensuing weeks, we’re going to revisit that shoot, and many others. I’ll share my screw-ups, disasters, heartbreak and agita. Hi, I’m Chris, a still photographer still becoming a filmmaker. Motion is a new exciting challenge for me, and I’m looking forward to sharing my adventures in moving pictures with you. Join us as we Push The Big Button and make those pictures move, won’t you?

Photographer and filmmaker Chris X Carroll has been fired upon by Norwegian whalers north of the Arctic Circle, swum naked with REM, taught Viscount Charles Spencer to sail, and turned to ask Elizabeth Taylor if the melon he was holding was ripe at a grocery store before realizing who she was and nearly passing out. Visit Chris at, and follow him on Instagram @chrisxcarroll and on Facebook at chrisxcarroll

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