Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Confessions of a Cameraman

Good for the soul, eh? We’ll see about that…

When I first started hanging out in newsrooms, I’d pop up like a prairie dog every damn time the scanners burped. Today when spot news bleeds from that row of police radios, I more resemble an infected ferret, as I l fast-crawl out of the room on my toes and fingertips.

I have such a healthy respect for the art of lighting that I rarely attempt it myself. Instead, I scan interior localess for well-placed windows, brackish splashes and puddles of daylight. Lazy? Perhaps, but I’d rather harvest ambient illumination than search for wall outlets. Bad knees, donchaknow…

Unlike in the movies, we don’t recoil in disgust whenever another news crew rolls up on scene. See, in the field logos don’t matter half as much as esprit de corps. Amble up to the scrum with a laid back vibe and I‘ll share my batteries if you need ‘em. Come at me with an attitude and I just may stick a leg out when you start to backpedal

Whenever I’m shooting video in a elementary or middle school, I look for the most unremarkable looking kid in the classroom and make sure he or she gets on television that night. Those dorks in high school are on their own.

We park our cameras with purpose. Thus, if I’m squatting behind you with my lens on your feet, don’t move out of the way. If I’ve camped out on the other side of the houseplant, leave it be. If I’m set up at the back of a crowded conference room there’s absolutely no need to duck into a crouch as you walk by. Unless of course you’re a wanted felon. Move along, please…

You do not have to be looking in the viewfinder to be recording. One of the first things you figure out how to do when left alone with a camera is to deny the damn thing is even on. So, if you’re picking your nose at a city council meeting across from what appears to be an inattentive TV camera - well, go ahead and set your DVR.

I use to s-t-r-e-s-s en route to stories: mentally reviewing equipment checklists, worrying about how I might capture all the pictures, sound and details once I got there and generally questioning my self-worth. Now, I can race to an orphanage fire and daydream about old Seinfeld episodes all the way. Is that wrong?

Yes, we can hear you - we’re just ignoring you. You’d feign deafness too, if two out of five otherwise sane citizens soiled themselves in your presence Personally, I physically cannot even hear the words “Hi Mom!”, “Put me on TEE-VEE!”, or “Hey, where’s that purty weather lady?” Selective deafness - it isn’t just for teenagers anymore!

Sure, we wanna do quality work. But if that means escorting some obnoxious dolt through his day, count me out. In other words, if you’re a really talented reporter but your braying laugh, delusions of superiority or pre-interview speech make you a drag to be around, I’d just as soon make a star of that intern with the unibrow.

Underestimate me all you want, I can spot a talker from across a shopping mall food court, make you look fat with the twist of a light-stand, put a top-heavy live truck into a controlled hydroplane and interview an Economics professor without ever letting on I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Just don’t ask me to learn the phone system. A man's got to know his limitations.

3 comments:

turdpolisher said...

Here, here! Especially that part about the Economics prof, and the helmet head.

Anonymous said...

Ditto on that phone system...

joey said...

the pre-interview speech.... gives me.... nightmares.