Friday, February 18, 2011

Slowly I Turn...

2010-11-05_12-10-12_734Were I fully in charge of Viewfinder BLUES, I'd end each and every day with a scintillating new blog post, three neatly constructed paragraphs bursting with humor, analysis and a few flattering photos. Sadly, I'm not. In charge, that is. Sure, I'm the only loser who logs in and leaves web droppings at this address, but don't think for a moment that I'm the least bit regular. Far from it. See, I have this affliction called a full-time job and while I'm thankful to be employed, it DOES get in the way of my higher aspirations. That's okay, I guess, as a 'slinger has to eat but if I didn't log 40 some hours a week chasing, shooting, editing and WRITING daily news stories, I might have more mojo to spread around my corner of the internet. Trouble is, I'd have nothing to write about. Oh, I have OTHER passions: mountain biking, the Electric Blues, my dog, the Age of Sail... Somewhere inside me a pretty personal 'coming of age' tale lurks, but until I avoid a few more years of therapy, there's little chance I'll share it here. I'm also a pathological reader and while I tend to review the books I buy, I'm not sure I want to clutter up this space with ruminations on the written word.

No, this site requires focus.

And therein lies the rub. For every good idea I have, a few lousy ones seep through my cerebellum. I've been spotlighting the plight of TV News shooters for more than five years now and sometimes even I grow bored, confused or mentally constipated. Such is the case now as a matter of fact, which is why I'm logging in to explain myself. Longtime readers will recognize a pattern here, in which I attempt to shatter my writer's block with a rambling diatribe consisting of nothing more than assembled syllables. Yup, it hurts me more than it hurts you, for inside my head Viewfinder BLUES is not some homemade paean to a limited field of vision, but a glossy document suitable for mass consumption. Thus, I've refrained from stuffing this blog with pure filler, lest I ever choose to 'get published' by transcribing this site with a stapler and a stop at Kinko's. Chances are that won't happen though, as I am a photog after all. Any chance of me collating this mess and hinting 'Print' is right up there with me turning in the keys to Unit Four and pursuing a life of quiet reflection. Not that I haven't thought about it.

A lot.

But hey, who HASN'T fantasized about a new way of life, a better way in which one spends the day enthralled in meaningful endeavor, not lapping a courthouse while scanning the joint for a proper place to park your unmarked news cruiser. But enough about me, what about you - whadda you think of me? That's the exact kind of trite dialogue I'd like to avoid here, as I deal with plenty of needy egos at work. Okay, so most everyone's pretty chill, but a stark few more than make up for it with egregious displays of self-satisfaction. Trust me, they make Kanye West look like that kid Urkle and while a complete breakdown of such crimes against nature would make for sound reading, I don't dare yet share them, lest I get that free time I've been pining for. No, I'm keeping the juicy stuff under lock and key, saving it all for the book I'll never write. Meanwhile, I'll try to keep Viewfinder BLUES afloat, for while it may be a guilty little pleasure for you, it is therapy, ambition and a pleasant kind of curse for Yours Truly.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a blank screen to stare at

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Banksy, He Ain't

Who's shooting who?
Sooo, let me get this straight: 'Banksy', the super-secretive British graffiti artist is actually West Coast photog Sean Browning? Really? I mean, I KNEW the guy was sketchy - but a world famous master of illicit street art? Where does he find the time? Hell, I can barely eek out a handful of blog posts each week, let alone skulk about some darkened alleyway with a can of spray paint and a sense of entitlement. Hmmmm, I guess it kinda make sense. After all, 'Banksy' DID direct a documentary that got nominated for an Oscar and recently he freaked out the powdered wigs at the Academy with plans of crashing their televised ceremonies while wearing a monkey mask - but now you're telling me he's a local news shooter too? Man, that is just SICK! Hmmm? Browning AIN'T Banksy? He's just posing by the latest unwanted masterpiece all back-lit like Batman? PHEW! For a moment there I thought I was gonna have to wing my way to Westwood and stage some kind of lenslinger intervention. Or at the very least blackmail him for every spare camera battery he's got. Instead, I'll stay right here and vouch for his character - should any errant gumshoes want to make a name for themselves by unmasking the artistic cad. Naaah, Sean's good people: a second generation newsman with TV embedded in his DNA and some really cute kids at home. Just do me a favor if and when you see him...

Check his pockets.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Chance to Dance

Nervous laughter filled the air as the ladies filing into the Randelman Road RUSH realized a hairy cameraman was sitting in on their Aquatic Zumba class. I however remained silent, hoping they'd soon forget I was even there. That didn't seem likely, as several were silently eye-gouging me from across the pool. Taking note as to who might meet me in the parking lot afterward, I centered in on the friendlier faces and tried my best to disappear. Soon however my presence was forgotten entirely as a strong Latino hook overtook the room and the ladies got down to the rhythm at hand. It. Was. Awesome. Why? Because I was able to flit about the place like a fly on the wall, zooming in on whatever I saw (un)fit while trying to suppress my white man's overbite. I don't know how successful I was, but forty five minutes later the music ended and I lay spent on a nearby pool drain. But I couldn't rest. No, I had to jump up and convince a few ladies to let me interview them - despite the fact I'd spent the better part of the last hour isolating their O-face.

Fast-forward a few weeks, in which I used ten minutes here and five minutes there to cobble together a report that quickly turned into my favorite Sweeps piece. How could it not be? Dizzying visuals, warm characters and not a body-bag in sight. When I told the ladies to act like ever other woman and ignore me, they wisely obliged, losing their calories and inhibitions to a lusty Latin beat. All I had to do was point and shoot. Later on, I culled a few soundbites from the interviews I conducted and draped a few words around them. From there, I handed my script to senior reporter Bob Buckley for proper enunciation and any credit reception. The rest was gravy, as I noodled in the edit bay between drive-by's and live shots. All in all, it was MY idea of the perfect assignment. Will it spark outrage among the shut-ins? Slow global warming? Win me some tacky trophy to show off to my friends? Nyet. But neither should it, for stories like this are reward enough. Best of all, no one jumped me on the way to the car!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Attention on Dreck

Wall o Photog
Politicos on both sides of the aisle can't wait to rip into President Obama's 2012 budget, but these fellas just want an unobstructed shot of it. At least that's what I think is happening in this latest photo from NBC cameraman extraordinaire Jim Long. Truth is, these seasoned 'slingers could just as easily be zooming in on something Steven Tyler coughed up on Idol; both make your back hurt. Just know that whether we're leaning over a 3.7 trillion dollar breakdown of our country's debt or a rhinestone-encrusted hairball from the Permanent Vacation days, our aim remains the same. Don't believe me? Sidle up to the next scrum you see and start making waves. You'll be picking elbow out of your teeth long after that wall of lenses falls. It's just one more reason I avoid camera-packs as if they were laden in genital warts. If I wanted shaky shots and flop-sweat on me, I'd drag the wife's handy-cam to a Green Day Show and drop into the mosh pit. Maybe then, I'd get some respect, instead of a competitor's cologne up my nose. Have you smelled a network cameraman? Last time I did, I blacked out in front of Sam Champion. Luckily, we were packed so tight, no one knew I was unconscious until the press conference ended and I dropped to the floor in a fetal position. It wasn't so much my rocking back and forth that upset those lifers so much...

It's how I roll.