Going in, Jerry Ghionis had great expectations for the Z 8’s capability to handle the video he was going to make—the video we hope you’ve just seen, the one for which he was writer, producer, director and videographer.
“I considered the Z 8 a smaller version of the Z 9,” Jerry says, “so, from the start, my expectations were high—and then the Z 8 exceeded them.”
A video sequence and a series of stills best tell that story. “The true test was Zoe, one of my Goldendoodles,” Jerry says. “I had the 70-200mm f/2.8 on the camera for the video, and she’s going to run straight at me, at speed, and I’m thinking I’m going to have to film this maybe five times to get it perfectly sharp the whole way through—but I got it, at 120 frames per second, in one take.”
Which led to the second part of the true test. “So, when I’m doing stills of her, I’m thinking, Okay let me shoot with the 85mm f/1.2, wide open, 20 frames per second, and let’s see if I get every shot completely sharp. It was like a challenge to the camera, and every shot was sharp at 100 percent magnification. An animal, running toward me, full speed, with eyes perfectly sharp—I’d never done that.”
And that phrase—“never done that”—indicates an ongoing story of artistic challenge.
“Creative reinvention—that’s happened many times in my career,” Jerry says. “It’s never been driven by a business angle; it’s very much been a creative choice.” Simply, he doesn’t like to repeat himself. “When I entered competitions, every year I would try something different. It wasn’t for validation—I’m very competitive, but against myself: I can do better, I can do different.”
One of his biggest reinventions happened years ago when he made a significant detour around burnout. “I took a break from bookings—no weddings or portraits, no teaching gigs, workshops…nothing. And then I just played.” Over a summer, “played” meant working with a fashion house and a few modeling agencies. “I developed a massive body of work you’d swear was done over a decade.” And maybe not done by Jerry. “I’m always pleased when people say, “That can’t be your work.”
The summer’s experience was total creative fun, and he realized it was time to widen his lane, to do something different. The change in attitude led to a change in latitude—from Los Angeles to Las Vegas—and new areas of interest. “In Las Vegas I developed a whole new body of work with performance artists,” he says, “many of whom are gold medalists and Cirque performers. They’re very inspiring because of what they can do, and for their commitment to their craft, and that makes me want to be better at my craft.” His craft included video, which he’d begun years before with behind-the-scenes commentaries for his educational efforts and grew to include music videos, small productions and a Nikon mentor series educational course.
Jerry shot every second of the Z 8 “life well lived” video. “Part of that was, Okay, let’s get hands on with this smaller camera, but most of it was, let me do what I enjoy doing—and that’s making videos.” He was able to use the Z 8 as the hybrid camera it was, quickly switching from video to stills, and for the motion part of the project using it hand-held, tripod-mounted, on a gimbal and on a slider. No matter if he shot video or stills, he had a few overall and consistent judgments on the Z 8: versatility, reliability and files that were “predictably amazing.”
…this camera is a tool that’s taken the barrier to good photography out of the way.
The Tech Connection
In the behind-the-scenes video, Jerry says, “The camera is a tool—and you make the difference.” How that played out in his photography with the Z 8 highlighted both parts of the sentence. “I looked at making the video as, okay, let me get my hands on this smaller camera and see what it can do, but honestly, most of it was, how cool is this? I get to do what I most enjoy doing—making videos.”
Ultimately, the Z 8 made it even more enjoyable because as an artist, Jerry pretty much intuitively, and certainly creatively, connects technology and imagination. “Shooting the Z 8 with the 85mm f/1.2 [for the Zoe stills] and getting every shot perfect opened up my mind,” he says, “because I’d never been aware of that kind of efficiency and accuracy. Throughout the video I was constantly playing with colors, skin tones, movement, with light and shadow, and I was getting incredible results. At one point, for still photos, I had a ballerina doing all kinds of crazy movement, forward and back. I had smoke going, she was twirling and it’s like, this is ridiculous. So, when I say the camera is only a tool, well, this camera is a tool that’s taken the barrier to good photography out of the way. I think of the Z 8 as the sweet spot of Nikon mirrorless—the power of a Z 9 in a smaller camera, and that’s why the Z 8 is now my exclusive camera.”
Widely regarded as one of the top five wedding photographers in the world, Jerry Ghionis’ theatrical and iconic images have redefined modern wedding photography. Jerry's style can be described where vintage glamor meets contemporary fashion. Jerry’s most recent passion is the creation of his non-profit charitable organization named The Soul Society (www.thesoulsociety.org). View his work on his website at www.jerryghionisphotography.com and at his ambassador page.