Monday, June 07, 2010

The Crying Game

In an as yet unposted News and Record column, my fave glottologist and all around nice guy Mike Clark tackles the tough issues:

"Videographers zoom in extra tight anytime someone on camera is about to cry. I think they're trained and certified in tear-zooming. Don't zoom in, we take your camera away and give no severance pay. Zoom in and you go national."

Now Mike, I can't speak for everyone out there with a face full of viewfinder, but those of us who stuff newscasts for a living do indeed zoom in at the first sign of ocular hydration. But if we're going to discuss this, we have to get the terminology correct... We are PHO-togs - rugged underlings who stick their lenses in other people's problems for a daily wage. We shoot crusty mud puddles and active hurricanes, oversold molehills and mountains of smoldering sheet metal. Videographers shoot weddings - poorly. You'd no more refer to one of these seasoned TV stevedores a 'videographer' than you'd call a grizzled homicide detective a 'rent-a-cop'. Okay, so the average photog isn't gonna break out the taser just because you mangled his name tag - but you get the idea. Now, as for honing in on falling tear drops, that we will do - but make no mistake...

We do not train.

Firemen train. Photogs sit around and bitch. We swap war stories and gossip about the other guys' "talent". About the only thing we're truly certified to do is drive top-heavy minivans and identify fast food structures by silhouette. Mostly though, we chauffeur reporters around reglons we know better than they ever will - all while constantly reminding them that without us, it's all just bad radio. Yes, we're not an especially easy breed to cozy up to; if you're looking for refinement and style you may want to check in with the overly coiffed camera crews at Bravo - but if you have to scale some poor widow's porch at high noon, you can do no better than your above average staffer. Why? We got snipers' eyes, a lifer's decorum and exquisitely subtle thumbs. I myself can reach up and feather my zoom controls at the first glint of falling water and never once tip off the surrounding in-laws as to my true intentions...

Unseemly? Yeah, but don't blame me. Blame Iron Eyes Cody. You know, the noble Native American who shed a single tear over the littering of America. I - along with a lot of other news shooters my age - watched Big Chief Verklempt quietly lose it in that famous Public Service Announcement for years. I even asked friend of the blog Bob Timberlake about him once and whiel the famous painter regaled me with a great story, I can't recall a single sentence of it. What I do remember however is that single tear rolling down the Indian's worn cheek and a small part of me has been trying to recreate that scene ever since. And have I. Victims, beauty queens, sweepstakes winners,: I've documented more waterworks than that Jacques Cousteau's cameraman. In fact, only one crying jag escaped my gaze and it haunts me to this day...

May 28, 2006. All the world was watching Hollywood as some gray haired schlub whose name escapes me won the title of American Idol. I was outside the Kodak Theater that night, camera-manning the red carpet as a gauntlet of pseudo-stars and real life celebrities preened and sauntered past. Among that number: goofy boozehound /national treasure David Hasselhoff. That's right: a half hour after the Baywatch mogul staggered past my camera, he famously lost control of his emotions over some banal bit of American Idol stagecraft. The Hoff cried and I MISSED IT.

Four years later, I still get choked up thinking about it.

1 comment:

Getawaymoments said...

go national? now there is some eighties thinking. if we got paid for every piece of tape that "went national" we local shlubs would all be rich.

great post, great read
"we do not train" has got to be my favorite line of the year
so true