Video Thoughts: Adele’s “Hello” and Photography

Okay – first of all, watch this:


Are you as blown away by this video as I am?? Because I really, really am. I’ve watched this probably 15 times now – and I see something new to admire about it every single time.

I mean, I like the song – enough that I now have a new appreciation for why Adele is such a big deal these days. Prior to this, I’d of course heard of her. And I knew she was talented from the little bit of contact I’d had with her music. But her stuff just never really grabbed me, emotionally – so she was never really on my musical radar.

This song though…this has changed that. I really like this song. And the reason, I think, comes from the fact that I experienced it for the first time through this really amazing video. And so I understand it (the song), I feelΒ it, in a way that I wouldn’t have, I’m certain, if I’d heard it for the first time on its own.


I love this video. It’s gorgeous, for one thing. If I were to view the entire thing as a collection of still shots rather than moving picture, every single one of them would be beautifully lit and perfectly composed. The photographer in me is overwhelmed by it!

And I’m also fascinated by the way it tells its story – particularly by the way in which it visually addresses the idea of memory. The sepia color of course sets the tone for the entire thing; it immediately gives the impression of “the past” when it’s colored that way. But then there are the subtler elements: the way you only see her lost lover through her eyes (literally – even when she’s throwing something at him.) You don’t see them together – because you’re in her memory and experiencing his presence as she did. That’s interesting.

The use of metaphor is powerful as well. The way she shakes the dust off of the furniture coverings, for example: the uncovering of old memories, old pain. Taking the protective covering off of those things and letting yourself experience again. The way the wind blows over her, too, and buffets her (blows her hair around, etc) while she belts out the chorus. Set against those visuals, the fuller, louder power of the chorus feels less like the chorus of a song and more as if what you’re actually doing is experiencing her experiencing the depth of her pain.

And the old phones…I love the use of the phones! The phone booth covered in vines, the land-line phones, the flip phones. That was a really interesting approach. There’s not a smartphone or laptop in sight – and that use of technology orients the whole thing in the past in a really creative way. That was a really interesting way to establish time and the passage of time.


I have to say, I actually love this song now (not just “like,” as I said above!) And it’s because I can’t not picture the video when I hear the song.

It’s not that I feel personally connected to what she’s specifically singing about (that she did something hurtful that ended an important relationship and can’t get over it or cease regretting it.) I (fortunately) haven’t ever found myself in that position – so there’s no direct connection (as in, she’s singing to my own experiences.) But yet, I do feel a connection to this song – a strong one. I think because it taps into something beyond the actual issue being sung about (the fact that she broke his heart, etc.) It taps into a more universal idea of memories and regret and the way those things linger and stay alive inside of you. And it’s the visuals that accomplish that – for me, at least.

It’s so masterfully accomplished! The steam rising from the delicate teacup…the texture of the chair she pulls the covering off of…the clarity of the leaves and the glass of the window and the raindrops. Those environmental details are so clear, so tangible.Β I feel like I can reach into the screen and literally touch the teacup in those shots. It’s such a powerful testament to the way memory can be so acute. Time doesn’t always work to dull things – not all things. That’s what those visuals are saying – and it’s true. So when she sings lines like, “They say time’s supposed to heal you, but I ain’t done much healing,” you know what she means. You feel what she means – in the same way that you know what that teacup would feel like under your fingertips.

I definitely wouldn’t have experienced the song in this way, with this “universal” perspective, if I hadn’t had the video to draw out the deeper nuances.


So this video has left me thinking about a few things.

One: It’s reminded me, very powerfully, of the way imagery can speak.

I feel this through photography – this potential within photography for a kind of communication that transcends the verbal. I’m conscious of that in photography. That’s one of the things I find so compelling about the medium, as a matter of fact.

This video drives home the point for me that video can accomplish this as well.

Two: I have some new clarity regarding an article I read the other day, which posited that:

“There will always be a place for still images, it just that in the near future, many of those still images will have come from motion sequences.”

~photographer Jason Row, via Lightstalking (10/19/15)

As I said above, almost every single frame of the video could, in my opinion, make a compelling and beautiful still image – which gives me an interesting angle from which to think about what the article was saying.

What would (or could) a “photo shoot” be, if you’re what you’re doing is basically shooting a video and then extracting stills from it? What would a “video shoot” be in that context? Would they just naturally be the same thing?

I mean, what would you be producing really? Would you, as a photographer, just by default, due to the tools you’re using, then also be a videographer? (And vice versa.)

And what does that mean for where you should focus your skillset? Or where I should be focusing myself now as I try to skill-build? I mean, what’s more important in this scenario: adeptness with Photoshop, or adeptness with video editing programs? Or both?

I guess I’m thinking that Photoshop/photo-editing skills are the necessity right now. But I’m also thinking (and this is a new thought) that video and video-editing skills aren’t so much the “interesting extra” I was previously thinking them to be. I’m thinking that, while they might not be as essential as Photoshop skills are for me at this moment in time, they are in fact essential for me, if I ever want to reach a point where I can support myself doing this stuff.

And possibly artistically as well.

I’m going to have to explore that some more.

Three: I have a new appreciation now for the blurry middleground that currently exists between still photography and video. And I feel drawn to exploring that in a way I didn’t before.

For example: I’m a little obsessed lately with the portrait work of photographer Alessio Albi. (So amazing.) I follow him on InstagramΒ – and I’ve noticed lately a couple of occasions wherein he’s posted video there of some of his models – video from which, I imagine, it would be fairly easy to extract a beautiful still image.

He’s not producing a lengthy music video (like Adele’s “Hello.”) He’s doing something that is much less daunting for newbie-photographer-me to wrap my mind around doing. And that makes it very artistically interesting to me. I think there’s a great deal of potential in exploring that. I want to.


Okay, as I said previously, I have much to say lately in this vein (video thoughts, and video vs photography thoughts.) So, more soon!


6 thoughts on “Video Thoughts: Adele’s “Hello” and Photography

  1. I LOVE your brain. You’ve inspired me to watch this. I didn’t even read this whole post yet, but what you said about Adele — aware of her but never especially moved by her music — that is me. Several people have shared this video but now that you have…I’m going to actually watch it. πŸ™‚


  2. This is a fabulous video, thanks for posting. I’d heard about this song, but not heard it. Now, as you say, hearing this song again with this video in my mind really amplifies it. And the thought of making frames from this video to still photographs….those would be beautiful!


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