There’s an old saying in Broadcasting…
"Film is art, Theater is Life, Television is Furniture."
It has to be true; Weaver has a t-shirt that says so. The other day he pulled me into a darkened booth and whispered conspiratorially,
“Stew, check it out - If Television is furniture, and I am a TV Photog, then what kind of furniture am I?”
Sensing my colleague was undergoing another twisted epiphany, I raised an eyebrow and slowly backed out of the edit bay, scanning the small room for sharp objects to remove. Not finding any, I closed the door and abandoned him, as he repeated the question to the bank of monitors inches from his face. No need to encourage him. If I wanted to throw backlight on the Moon, I’d tell Weaver he couldn’t do it and wait for the celestial halo to appear. A good man to have around on a live shot.
So it shouldn’t have surprised me when he clung to the idea, quickly turning it into the latest installment of ‘Photog Bloggers Unite’. Before I knew it, every shooter with a web-blog fetish I knew was weighing in with esoteric riffs on why they were a burnt ornage couch from the swinging 70’s. The philosophical quandary even caught on at b-roll, where a lengthening thread on the very matter stretches into cyberspace. Me - I’m coming up empty. I couldn’t tell you if I’m a velvet ottoman, a tricked-out floor lamp or a rhinestone-encrusted dentist’s chair. I’ll go with Weaver’s call:
Lenslinger - A huge wall-mounted bookshelf full of insightful and enjoyable books of all different flavors.
I’ll take that, as I am a great lover of books. Here’s just one of my many shelves now, stacked to the rafters with tomes, accounts and chronicles. Tattered copies of science-fiction classics and lurid paperback novels rescued me from a childhood filled with playmates who only wanted to ‘play ball‘. With adolescence came Stephen King. For years I counted my hardbacks of ‘The Dead Zone’ and ’The Stand’ as items I’d like to be buried with. Still do, come to think of it. As I got older, my literary tastes changed but voracious appetite for titles stayed the same. Never one to follow a plan, I chased my distractions from one guilty pleasure to another, reading purely for the joy of the written word.
By the time I reached my full towering height of five foot ten, I’d sworn off the novel for the true-life narrative. Something about the recording of events - both the somber and salacious - has always appealed to me. Perhaps it was the budding newsman inside me, maybe I was trying to make up for my lack of education by gobbling up real-world facts, however tawdry. Several phases followed: During my stint in the Navy, I devoured deranged killer tell-alls, starting with ’The Stranger Beside Me’ and ending with ’Bitter Blood’. By the time I staggered into my first TV station I was under the influence of authors from a generation past - Kesey, Thompson, Kerouac and Wolfe, dangerous uncles who left me raw, dazed and blistered. A friend named Pat McKemie sobered me up, turning me on to countless accounts of trials and triumphs past long before the History Channel made it cool. Taking to the high seas of my imagination, I spent the next few years ensconced in nautical lore, with a special interest in the Age of Discovery. After witnessing many a European die on an ice floe, I started thinking about the mark I wanted to leave on this heartless orb.
So I built a library of How-To books, all centering around the art and science of narrative and viewpoint. Though I wasn’t writing so much as a grocery list at the time I spent a solid year racing from cover to cover on a quest to learn how to become an author of sorts. I’ve long since stopped swallowing smarmy instructional guides, though I think they taught me a thing or three. Thinking about the kind of book I’d like to write myself, I sough out street level accounts of interesting gigs and different worlds, from ‘Kitchen Confidential’ to Blue Blood’ to ‘NewJack’ to ‘The Corner’. Someday I’d like to add ‘Viewfinder BLUES’ to that particular canon. For now though, it’s a blog - and a damned fulfilling one.
Sorry for the tangent guys. Now go check out all the other photog-bloggers who answered Weaver’s call. I’ll be here, deciding which favorites to re-read at the beach.
tv photog blog