Since Periscope launched in March, Patrick Witty, the director of photography at Wired, has been thinking about ways to use it.
“It’s so experiential, ephemeral and counterintuitive to most other ways of storytelling,” he said. “After 24 hours, it’s gone. But that’s what I like about it.”
When the publication decided to cover the opening of a new “Star Wars” exhibit in London, he thought it was perfect time for Wired to try the app. And he knew that London-based photographer Peter Dench was ideal for the job. Because of his “great sense of humor, I knew he’d have fun with it, and he did,” Witty said.
The initial response to the stream was strong, he said.
“The viewers absolutely loved it. I see the potential and I have a lot planned for the future,” Witty said. “There were 3,763 live viewers that gave us 21,397 ‘hearts.'”
But it’s hard to say how use of the app will affect Wired’s future photography coverage, Witty said.
“There’s no question in my mind that I’ll be commissioning photographers to use Periscope more and start asking for photographers on assignment for Wired to think about it as well,” he said. “All of this isn’t meant to replace anything we are already doing, it’s complimentary. And it allows a deeper level of interaction with the viewers. Yesterday during Peter’s broadcast viewers were asking him for different angles, to get closer, further away, for him to touch Vader’s mask. It was awesome (and immediate).”
On route to another assignment, Dench offered some observations regarding Periscope via email.
What did you learn from this Periscope project?
Be prepared. Try and understand the environment you’ll be filming in [check the Wifi connection etc]. Be flexible.
Tell me more about this “audience driven” approach. How did it impact your photography?
It was definitely an audience-driven experience. The stream of comments on screen at times were overwhelming. Some suggest one thing, others the total opposite. Trying to digest these and summarize the general mood and what the majority of the audience want while trying to frame great images, is a challenge.
You used an iPhone 6 for this project, correct? How was this different from your single-lens reflex?
Using the iPhone 6 was a completely different tool of communication than the SLR; held at arms length with a mostly vertical frame and continuous stream rather than a shoot, stop, move approach, was equally exhilarating, rewarding and frustrating. You can edit better with a single frame approach; with the iPhone 6, you have to think about the transitional periods between what you want to film.
What other coverage opportunities do think might work well with this application?
With a relatively new app, it’s tricky to assume what will become popular, work well and tweak the audience’s interest. I’d like to see it used for spot news and as a learning tool in medical operations, for example.