Thursday, October 28, 2004

Fluff Man Confesseth

...If It Didn't Involve Handcuffs, It Wasn't A News Story...

Life as a TV news photographer is wearing thin. The average day on an average story with an average reporter leaves me feeling, well...average. Sure, there are small victories: lighting, nat sound, tight editing, but truthfully, it's not enough to keep me from daydreaming about a writing career.

Like alot of young male news-shooting rookies, I used to live and die by spot news. Luckily for me, I made my bones in a market that chased every car wreck, woods fire and domestic stabbing that came over the scanner. Not knowing any better, I thought if it didn't involve handcuffs or flashing lights, it wasn't a news story.

But it was the days of 'COPS', and the relationship between media and police was alot murkier than it seems to be now. Maybe it was just the good ole boy small market I toiled in, but I got in so tight with a few sheriff departments, I started to freak out my stoner buddies. I didn't care though - I was under the influence of E.N.G., and suffering from testosterone poisoning to boot.

Early morning drug round-ups, moonshine still raids, redneck hostage stand-offs, I couldn't get enough of it. One southern-fried Sheriff took a special liking to me, probably because I didn't have the good sense to see he was playin' me for positive press. He and his hillbilly henchmen would call me whenever something was about to go down (which was often) and I'd invariably be rolling tape before the competition ever rolled up.

One time, they even invited me to sit in on an autopsy, but I declined. Later, they insisted on showing me footage they shot themselves of the procedure. I lasted about thirty seconds before calling a halt to the post-mortem critique. They may have the law on their side, but some of those cats with badges are sick pukes indeed. But I digress (what'd you expect?)

These days I don't do a lot of cop-shop. My current market doesn't really work that way and that's fine with me. No, you'll find me down at the school bus rodeo, the butterfly ranch, the Hispanic Jazz camp. Other shooters in my life take great pleasure in disparaging my fluff news tendencies, but usually they do so by cell-phone. From a live truck. At the Courthouse. With the jackass reporter nobody likes. I sometimes think about them later in the day, when I'm watching the sun set over my favorite bike trail. Mostly not, though.

But it's not just the better working conditions I'm after. I honestly enjoy telling the little stories, the ones involving regular folk doing regular things - though hopefully in a highly visual manner involving lots of natural sound and well-lit repetitive action. Is that too much to ask?

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