Nice article and very "outside of the box". In response to it and some of the comments in this thread, here is my recent experience:
For a number of years (never mind how many) I've been shooting a few weddings on a pro basis. Actually I've had more customers for baby portraits and have leaned my business more toward that. Oh, I'm still very part time, but it keeps me in touch and having fun.
My style with baby portraits is to do them in their home; they are much more relaxed and open in their own space. I drag along some backgrounds and strobes, but it really isn't a whole lot of gear. I'm not much of a poser with babies. That's mostly because you can't get babies to pose. So I put them in situations where they are happy and act pretty normally. Then I capture enough shots of them looking cute and happy to make parents happy.
There are certain equipment issues with this setup that I've been trying to get around, but haven't found the right still photo equipment. One of them is strobe lights. Babies don't much like strobes or any bright light. A bright light they can get used to, but most never get very comfortable with strobes, some just start crying under strobes.
Another is Live View. I've shot most of my my baby portraits with a Konica Minolta A2 camera because it has a nice Live View. Sticking my face behind a camera to look into a viewfinder doesn't work with babies. When my face is hidden, they almost immediately disconnect from me and turn their attention elsewhere. When my head pops back up, we have to start the human interaction all over again. This on and off method is not fun for me or the babies. So, Live View has turned out to be very important to the way I shoot babies.
The other is reaction time of the photographer/camera. OK, the A2 doesn't have the fastest shutter reaction, but it is pretty fast with AF turn off. Mostly the problem is that babies move very quickly and suddenly. They also don't hold poses very long - at all. So, I'm always seeing poses that I'm missing. That's a bit frustrating. I could get a camera with very fast reaction time, but it isn't going to speed up the photographer any.
I've been waiting for the nice fast DSLR cameras to get a useful Live View, but that doesn't seem to be happening very fast or very well. Besides they don't really solve all the above problems. So, slowly and reluctantly I have forced myself to think outside the box and look at an HD video camera as the solution. I bought a Canon HV-20 to try it out and have been very pleased so far. Let me explain:
I HAVE to use a bright light that isn't a strobe. So I got a big florescent setup that gives a bundle of bright light, but is soft enough for babies. The florescent setup keeps the room from getting too hot. Babies get used to it pretty quickly - in their own home.
The HV-20, as do most video cameras, does "Live View" very well. It couldn't work without excellent Live View. In fact the "viewfinder" isn't very good. That's alright, I don't use anything but the screen. It's big and bright enough that I can see it from several feet around the camera. It also turns around so that I can be in front of the camera and see it. You can't find better Live View on a still camera.
Reaction time of the photographer becomes a non-issue. I turn it on and it takes 24 pictures every second. There is nothing a baby can do to beat that. Well, they have been known to crawl away on occasion. In short, I get everything they do in front of the camera. Yes, shooting at 1/24th of a second does leave a few frames that have motion blur. Interestingly, that usually helps video. For pulling out stills, it really isn't a problem either because there tends to be a frame very close that has the best pose and isn't blurry.
I know you are wondering about all those big prints from 1920x1080 pixels. That's hasn't been a problem either. For years I gave my customers a CD or DVD with all the still photos in a wide variety of file formats. I wanted them to be able to print these pictures from just about any software. Of course, I've had the ability and option to print large, pretty prints for them too. With a little surveying of my customers, I learned that not a single one of them had every printed a single picture! Nope, not a one - zero. I found out that they were looking at the JPEGs on their computers and e-mailing them to friends and family. Mostly they were looking at the smaller sized JPEGs too and not even the full sized ones.
Hey, these are busy parents of babies and small children. They don't have time to sleep. Time to print and display photos is way down on their list of priorities. So, they wanted all the pictures digitally, but they want them in a format where they can quickly and easily view and distribute them.
Therefore, the 2 MP of HD video will print nice 4x6" pictures. It will be more than big enough for e-mail distribution. It will display very nicely on even the high resolution computer monitors used today. It will give stunning pictures on the 1080i/p TVs that are the best you can buy today and for many years in the future. That means that HD video resolution is more than enough resolution for this market.
I still give them the shoot on CD / DVD. I also create a little slide show for them and a little video that shows clips of their cherub in action with the pulled still from that clip embedded in the video. (I'm using Sony Vegas Pro 8.) So, they get both still and video from the same sitting. The key thing is that this is quick and easy viewing whether they want to watch on their computer or TV.
Yes, a RED camera would be great to have, but a fully loaded one would scare some babies and toddlers. It really isn't needed for this market. Once still photographers start thinking outside their current still camera boxes, they will find a lot more uses for the RED. I hope my little story will help other still photographers think outside the box and see if video might improve their visual storytelling.
My article in RED is now online.