Monday, April 10, 2006

How to be a Photog (in 3 Easy Steps)

Aim Like a Sniper

We TV news cameramen (and women) pride ourselves on our aim, our eyesight, our stark acknowledgement of the otherwise unnoticed. Be it a hostile crime scene or a crowded farmer’s market, we train our vision on the periphery and bag points of view like hunting trophies. But we don’t draw blood; we draw interest. Though they rarely ever think about it, all those slobs on the couch watch the world through the crosshairs of a master craftsman. Unless I’m having an off-day, of course. Then they’re lucky if the pictures ain’t all shaky and blue.

Drive Like a Fireman

Okay, we don’t save lives or property. We merely fill in the black between commercials. But to ask a young scanner-geek to drive cautiously to a breaking news scene is like asking a drunk to take it easy on the sauce. I alone have surpassed speed limits by twenty miles per hour just so I wouldn’t have to fight for a spot at a Rotarian luncheon. Of course time and the approach of a middle age have a way of easing the lead foot syndrome. God knows I don’t jump curbs to get to ribbon-cuttings anymore. But if there’s a smoldering bus wreck on the horizon, I still reserve the right to hog the breakdown lane for miles at a stretch.

Dress Like a Tourist

Amid all the high speed pursuits and press conference cat-napping, we photogs like to keep it casual I’m not sure why, exactly. Certainly the humble task of lugging and deploying clumsy TV gear requires a certain utilitarian approach, but we shooters take it to another level. Tropical shirts, hiking boots, trousers with a criminal amount of pockets - we can’t get enough of them. Perhaps we’re just trying to compensate for the sartorial splendor of our overdressed, on-air partners. After all, what looks more natural than a reporter going live from a burning cornfield in a magnificently tailored suit? No, those of us behind the lens are just trying to keep it real. Me personally, I’m just channeling my inner Magnum P.I.


Anonymous said...

I want to follow up on the post you made a couple of weeks ago about driving the news unit on fumes....the photog you mentioned - Paul Dunn - is my husband. And it IS true he never let his news unit run out of gas, though he came close.(In those days, he smoked, and he never emptied the ashtray either.) But I can tell you one story....I went into labor with our first child about 10:30 on a sunday night. As I sat curled up halfway between the passenger seat and the floor board, trying to b-r-e-a-t-h-e through the contraction, I happened to glance over at the dashboard...where I saw the low fuel light on. Paul was cussing a blue streak and passing everything that wasn't going warp speed, and all I could think was "God, please don't let him run out of gas before we get to the hospital."

Anonymous said...

Here's another thing about being a photog...
Having to listen to every conversation your annoying, silver spoon fed, self absorbed reporter says on their continous cell phone conversations with their family and friends.

Knoxville, TN Photog.