Friday, November 20, 2009

Photographers Are We

From my Surly Editor® Mike James, a vintage clip I'd all but forgotten. I don't know HOW: it's brilliant, timeless and more than a little Pythonesque. You don't see many station promos this whimsical anymore, but it's really no sillier than your average spot featuring some middle-aged weatherman all puffed up and voguing atop his very own Doppler tower. Now for something completely different...

Produced in the mid-80's by WTHR-13-NBC in Indianapolis, "Photographers Are We," celebrates the hard-working camera-toters who had just helped WTHR be named "Indiana news photography 'Station of the Year,' for the fourth year in a row. Anybody know these guys?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Look Up and Live

Few sights strike fear into the heart of a TV news photographer like that of a decapitated live truck. The flattened tires, broken mast, charred doors and buckled pavement; it's not the least bit ghoulish to expect a body bag in this shot. Miraculously, none were needed in Atlanta yesterday. Longtime photog Leonard Raglin and WSB reporter Tom Jones walked away with only moderate injuries after their truck's forty foot mast struck power lines carrying 115,000 volts of electricity. So HOW did this happen? Hard. To. Say. But it's undeniable that the WSBTV crew drove away withOUT lowering the mast. It's difficult to imagine an experienced operator like Raglin doing such a thing, but then again, life in a live truck can sometimes erase the hard edges of better judgement. The mind-numbing repetition of setting up and breaking down, the constant demands to be here, there and everywhere at once, the endless rub of multi-tasking. I'm not making excuses - but neither am I launching an investigation. There will be plenty of that going on in Atlanta today. I'm just thankful no one was killed and I hope that the frightening images emanating from Georgia will remind all of us that even YEARS of experience are no substitute for a studied glance upward. Say it with me: Look Up and Live.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The Wrapping Reporter
Now, I'm not positive, but I'll bet when Shelby Baker decided to pursue the glamorous world of TV News, rolling up extension cords in the rain was probably NOT what she had in mind. But that's exactly what El Ocho's prettiest new reporter did just a few short hours ago as she and I sought shelter after the storm. It was no small gesture. See, some reporters make a big show of not helping out. It's their prerogative, I guess. Up in The Bigs, it's probably not even allowed. But here in the land of medium market television, it's generally expected that the on-air correspondent will at least kick in a little once the mast begins to drop. Most do, knowing that 9 out of 10 photogs are way too anal about their gear to let them do too much anyway. Me - I'll take it or leave it...

A Southerner by luck, I'm not one to insist an overly coiffed colleague get sloppy, should they be all dressed up with some place to go. But hey, if it's just us, a truck and thirty things to pick up, would you mind at least pretending to help? I promise I won't hand you anything too muddy. Of course if you do like a few (male) reporters from my past and apply hand lotion in the passenger seat while I gather up the gadgets that just enabled your face-time... well, that's cool too. I won't bash you on the blog, I won't even demand your man card. I will however think lesser of you - and pray for the day when some news director hands you a Sony of your very owny - along with a whole bunch of other tools you'll have to traffic in (and out) all by your lonesome.

Until then, grab that tripod, would ya? My hands are slick from the moisturizer I found in your bag.

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's Not Over

Covering Daughtry Lookalike ContestEver have that dream where you're surrounded by giddy bald men all vying for your attention? Me neither, but with my job it's hardly necessary. In fact, that's the very scenario I stumbled into the other night while killing time before the Daughtry concert. Hours earlier, Shannon Smith and I huddled with The Bald One himself in the bowels of the Greensboro Coliseum as he and his band of buddies played grab-ass before the show. Last time they played the Gate City, they were opening for Bon Jovi. This time, Jovi was nowhere to be seen, but Chris Daughtry and his eponymous combo seem to have taken a few life lessons from that New Jersey juggernaut. Of course there's the music: a muscular brand of pop metal with enough soaring choruses to keep the housewives hummin'. But there's also the whole backstage vibe. You won't find any shivering junkies roaming the halls. You WILL find a handsome tribe of aloof musicians; all registered bad boys, mind you - but none too grubby to not drag back to the double-wide (should you ladies get the chance). But I digress.

Daughtry chatting before the showThe less than pivotal role I played in Chris Daughtry's ascension has been well documented here. Overly so, some would say. So, instead of rehashing a cocktail party favorite even I've grown tired of embellishing, let me direct you here - where I've fawned and pondered over this turbo-throated everyman at considerable length. Meanwhile, I'll say this: Chris remains the same quietly confident customer that he was when Shannon Smith and met him years ago, just days before he flew to Denver and changed his life by bowling over the American Idol judges. Since then he's sold Millions of copies of his music, traveled the world, hung out with his heroes and is now headlining his first ever global coliseum tour. And still, he throws the locals a bone. When a certain pesky news crew rung him up for a sit-down, Chris welcomed us with brawny, tattooed arms. He even took the time to show Shannon and my fancycam around the stage, ensuring we wouldn't have to fall back on that crusty Idol footage to flesh out our piece. Sure, The Suits were hoping he'd let Shannon play bass on the encore of Home, but ya can't have everything. All in all, Chris was a humble host - incredibly so for a guy with his surname inked across his shoulder blades.

Soooo, here's a deep dip of the lens to the Daughtry camp for giving us some of their time. The resulting piece was the most enjoyable thing I've edited since that whole sleeping bag fiasco of last week. As for all the new friends we made at the aforementioned lookalike contest, well, it's nothing a good restraining order won't fix.

A View to a Spill

Not since Bigfoot egged those PETA protesters outside the Today Show has a piece of videotape caused such rabid controversy. I'm talking about the shove(?) felt 'round the world. Well, at least in my circles. Truth is, I was all but dozing over an open manuscript last night when, deep within the Lenslinger Lair, a half empty bottle of Maker's Mark started beeping. 'Schmuck Alert?' I wondered, pushing through the fake bookcase that leads to my inner most sanctum. But before I could fully wiggle into my costume... er, uniform, an emergency tweet flashed across the surface of a nearby lava lamp:

'Ease up on the kick-ass, 'Slinger, we're talking the NFL here'.

Swallowing a curse, I stepped out of my thigh-high red plastic boots and considered the source. NFL, huh? Those cats are delusional! Sure, there's plenty of fancycam operators in play, but most everyone gathered on the gridiron is bat-shit crazy. Coaches, fans, refs and players - they no more adhere to the laws of logic than reality show judges. I mean, have you seen the way these people behave when some half-literate millionaire kicks a ball through the uprights? Have you? Expecting them to act like civilized humans is as pathetic as a suburban father of two pretending to be a superhero...

Forget I mentioned that last part, would ya? Just know that while I'm outfitting my alter ego, the photog nation is reviewing the tape and avoiding a consensus. Did Belichick's goon really pull a Gilooly on that NBC cameraman? Or did dude just reach the end of his cable and wipe out on his own? Does a football coach really need a bouncer? Do these tights make me look fat? Again, it's mostly rhetorical, so keep your fashion to yourself. However, if you have an opinion on said fracas, a conspiracy theory to share, or the number of a tailor who won't ask any questions, I'd like to hear about it. Now if you'll excuse me I have to shimmy back UP this pole...

Knew I should have ordered the jetpack.