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...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Glamorous Life

"Dude, you have the most interesting job!" It's a phrase I've heard a lot over the years and it's certainly true - especially if by interesting you mean 'vexing', 'exhaustive' and 'thankless'. It's all that and more. Just don't call it 'glamorous'. It ain't...

Keith Hale on the hornCase in point: the pre-show phone call. Whether you're tuning in a live shot or just trying to figure out why tendrils of smoke are rising from your fancycam, you'll probably be forced to call back to the station for some 'technical support'. While it's not exactly like dialing Calcutta, it's not without its language barriers - especially when the engineer on the other line starts in with the dreaded tech talk. Look I'm a photog - not an astronaut! I don't sketch circuit boards for fun and I ain't big on manuals! There's a room full of people down the hall from you who are counting on a dog in a funny hat story in exactly 22 minutes and if they don't get it we're gonna have more problems than your broken flux capacitator! AAAAAUUUGGGGHHHHH! ... Hello

All 015.001A-hem. Where was I? Oh yeah, half asleep on my feet while the mayor yammers on about his new plan to paint the underside of all city-owned manhole covers in time for the sesquicentennial. Take Me Lord. Ya know, in the movies all press conferences end in some kind of bombshell announcement, usually followed by a car chase or some kind of montage. In real life, they drone on for far too long - first they they spend twenty minutes recognizing everyone in the room, then they mention a half dozen folk who couldn't make it but send their regrets, then they rush through the prepared statement someone who makes triple my pay wrote for them. By the time they get to the question and answer period, I'm so brain-dead I can barely recite my station's call letters, let alone form cogent inquiry.

The Vest Wrestler 3They say getting there is half the battle. They're wrong. It's easily two-thirds. Don't follow? You've obviously never received this urgent phone call: "Stew! Spot News! A transfer truck hauling medical supplies just jack-knifed along that dead stretch of I-40 in Cornole County! There's colostomy bags splayed for a hundred yards and traffic's backed up FOR MILES! We need you to roll! And don't foget to wear your safety vest. Sherrif says he'll lock up any nimrod who shows up without one!" That's about the time I regret daydreaming in school all those many years, then I dig some old school Metallica out of the glove box and get in the zone. You'd be surprised how far you can drive in the breakdown lane if you just act like you you're desperately needed on scene. Logos help, too.

Cable Blaze"It's not the live shot. It's the breakdown." I cannot tell you how many times I've told that to a young reporter as I took their cellphone and handed them a gadget to pack. See, when you've spent the last ninety minutes of your day going live(!) by the bake sale/train wreck/drive by, there's nothing you want more than to flee the scene of the crime. But like the toddler who's been playing Caped Crusader all day, you can't have snacktime until you put all your bat-toys up. This can be done a couple of ways: like a junkie trying to hide his stash before the cops bust in, or like a forgetful fisherman fondling his favorite lures. I try to aim for somewhere in between, but I'm good with either approach, as long as everything's packed up and ready to go by the time the mast collapses.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go scrub the glamour from my fingernails...

4 comments:

turdpolisher said...

gotta love untying black spahghetti!

Alan said...

Thanks again for being the 'voice of the photogs' my man! I was at a press confrence a few years ago when somebody let one rip in the back of the room. Ever try to keep a 'serious face' at a press confrence when someone starts floating 'air biscuits?' impossible... absolutely impossible. hahahahah!

Deanna said...

You hate the breakdown? I hate the setup! I'm not a photographer, but I'm in the audio-visual business. Events with lots of cables seem to take forever to set up, but not nearly as long to strike. And I'm usually just also really relieved that the event is over! (But a pox on the guys I work with who just throw all their unwrapped, gaffe tape covered cables in the closet for someone else to deal with after their events are done.)

Anonymous said...

I spent about five years working for a local cable station, and every Friday during the fall, it was football. I was the one who stuck the camera on my shoulder and wandered the sideline, looking for color shots, tethered by a couple hundred feet of cable, and no grip.

We even had sponsors for the band shows, so I could stop exactly long enough to swap bricks, and back I went.

I gladly carried that camera every Friday, while the other guys stood behind their tripods for the night, but had one rule-If I'm packing this thing all night, somebody ELSE is rolling up the cables. I hate teardown worse than anything.