“Do news photographers have to develop an individual “style” for shooting news? What is YOUR “style”?

(Letters from the archives of PhotogsLounge.net)

Littlephotog 
“I always try to shoot with my iris almost fully open. I also tend to use some shutter outside (I stay away from crazy shutter speeds, more like 1/125) and pull out the high speeds for sports, traffic, or when the situation calls for it (blowing up watermellows with fireworks, etc)

As far as shooting style, I pretty much shoot for sound as many do. I listen for the sounds that are being made at a location and I sequence those. I also spray the scene with a tripod from far back just to CMA.

I also like to do a little Q&A with a subject as they are doing their thing.

The majority of my interviews are wide. I try to work foreground objects into them whenever appropriate. I also try to mix up the framing of interviews as they progress to give the package some variety when I’m using more then one bite from someone.

Lately I’ve been doing lots of silloutte stuff. I’ve also gone back to doing some slow zooms here and there for slower stories. I also add movement to still pictures whenever possible via the NLE’s built in digital effects. If it’s a good system you can blow the picture up to about 150% without major artifacting or aliasing along edges. Looks much smoother than camera movement on little pictures.”


Coonass 
“My style is pretty much whatever works for the story. i can shoot rock solid steady sequences, or quick snaps, swish pans, all hand held when its called for. I use to shoot for hjcloseouts.com buyers tons if different kind of inventory, but then I went away from the closeout business into the news business. There everything was on a tripod. Then I choice to get away from side of the world, and news started having everything to a quick span of the camera just to get the photos we wanted. Taking 100′s of photos, when I use to take only photo’s of products. 

i prefer the solid steady sequences.

lots of nats always. sneak it in whenever the reporter takes a breath (again if its appropriate)

i try to stay away from the formal sit-down interview. even when the reporter insists, i always shoot a few questions at my subject while getting b-roll — works great for nat breaks..”


Steve Goldstein WISH-TV Indianapolis, IN 
I think my “style” of shooting varies from reporter to reporter. There are still reporters out there who just don’t get. If I’m with one of those (and unfortunatly there are too many) I go into “passive mode”. Just get the pictures, not too creative, and get “plenty of reporter cut- aways”, do the 30 second stand-up and bang it together. I know going in that it’s a lost cause, so I just bang it together. Now if I’m fortunate enough to go with the token creative reporter,I will go to “interactive” mode. Angles, sequences, natsot, experimental. I will do whatever I can (in the hour that the producer gave us to shoot the story in) to make OUR story the shining minute/thirty of the show.”


Kevin Johnson Cox Broadcasting 
“I don’t feel photogs “have” to develop a style, but I do get a bit of pride when someone recognizes a piece as mine, because of the “style”. There is a certain rhythm to my editing, a certain way I compose a shot, and a certain way I light. I’m not saying my way is better, just slightly unique. On the other hand, a photog shouldn’t stray too far from the “style” of the newsroom. A specific style of photography develops in a shop, and if one individual tries to be too different, too unique on a standard news story, it is jarring to the viewers. (Granted, series and special features can be exceptions.) There is time to “play” and time to do it the “usual” way.”


Darryl Wingard WSAW-TV Wausau, WI
“I have found that whatever “style” that I may (or may not!) have is fluid, constantly changing. Different stories deserve different approaches. Looking back at old stories, I’m often surprised to see things that I used to do a lot and I don’t do anymore. Sometimes it’s neat to bring out some tricks that I haven’t used in a while. I feel that my repertoire is constantly growing. I don’t want anyone to be able to pigeonhole my shooting.”


Chuck Purnell WVEC-TV Norfolk, VA
“If you want your work to standout among the rest of shooters in your shop or your market perhaps, I think you need to have a certain style of shooting. I personally like shooting low angles, and video that is 3-D; Shooting an object in the foreground pratically to the right or left of the lens then having the subject in the middle of the frame with a nice backdrop. This will show a good depth of field. When I am editing I try to use as much nat. sound as possible! My latest technique is when I have 2 bytes that were framed on the same side or just 2 bytes together I will through in some nat. sound to break this up and the reporters I work with love that! I also love hanging out of trucks getting wild angles of bike races and such. Last but not least I use my wireless lavilier mic 99% of the time. It looks more Professional than a mic cube all up in my shot! The only time I use the stick mic is run and gun situations or live shots.”


Lou Angeli Fire TV
“I was fortunate enough to develop my style before the “reality” craze skewed the entire industry. I shoot using a formula, similar to a documentary. It’s flexible enough that I can “play around” within the formula, which covers my butt in the edit suite. “


Bruce Johnson Wisconsin Public TV
“Since I don’t have a daily deadline(I work on a weekly news magazine) I can take time to do a little more lighting than many others can. I’m a big fan of the ‘soft front, hard back’ school of lighting-a Lowell 1K broad bounced off an umbrella in front, a Lowell VIP 250 watt for a back, 180 degrees opposed, key light to the far side of the reporter usually. Also I shoot interviews wide with a Canon 6-48 lens-seeing people’s hands is a must for me. BTW, I carry all of my lighting stuff and my tripod in a Portabrace backpack. Room to spare for extension cords, foil for reflection, camera raincoat, etc.


Merry Murray WZZM-TV Grand Rapids, MI 
“I think everyone has their own style. When I first started shooting, I could tell which one of my co-workers shot which story by their style. I can’t tell my own, but others say they can. If we all shot the same stories the same way…then one person could do it all for every station.”


Phil Cantor WTVF-TV Nashville, TN
“Developed or not most of us have our own styles. Nobody’s is the same. If you look closely within your own shop you can usually tell who shot the story. It is not difficult to see. It is part of what makes us all unique and that is why it is tough for us who edit our own stuff to edit someone else’s. My style is usually easy to see. I use a lot of shots, normally less than 3 seconds each. Big on sequencing and rarely a jump cut. Pacing is very obvious. I also use a lot of nat sound. And I am very tall (6-6) so if I am off the shoulder it is not hard to tell.”


Mike Woeste WXIX-TV Cincinnati, OH
“Photogs just develop their own style naturally…you are influenced by those you work with and the people who taught you. I onced interviewed Hillary Clinton, during the Hillary Clinton nutcracker days. Through the years you find out what works for you. My style continually evolves. If it just started using a cookie cutter pattern for shooting that’s when I’ll know I’m burned out. I try to adapt to my subject matter. If I’m involved in a story where things are moving and the situation is developing I won’t lock myself down to a tripod and a set of lights. On the other hand, if no one’s going anywhere and the action is confined…I say make it look as good as it can look.”


David Renner WMC-TV Memphis, TN
“Styles are like clubs in a golf bag: you have a bunch of them at your disposal and the circumstance you are in dictates which one you use. I think I have a GREAT BIG bag! ‘Nuff said.”

5 Tips to Help You Prolong the Life of Your Appliances

Not only are household appliances meant to serve their purpose for the long term, but they also reflect our own personality and style. As such, their durability means that they don’t come cheap. Considering the value of an appliance both monetarily and figuratively, it is important to take care of our appliances and maximise their longevity. Here, we bring you five maintenance tips to ensure that your appliances will last for years to come.

1. Regular Cleaning

The foremost way of taking care of your appliance is keeping it clean. Dirt and grime contributes to the degradation of your appliance, and will wear it down much faster. Regularly remove dirt, scrub off grime and wipe off dust from your appliance. If your appliance has electronic parts, keep water away from them and make sure moist substances are wiped off. Consider your refrigerator, for example. Because it stores food, it’s normal for the unit to accumulate debris and food particles after a certain period of time. However, if you don’t regularly clean the interior, it will become stained and dirty, affecting your food. The refrigerator’s seals may also be affected if the gasket isn’t periodically cleaned. Don’t forget to keep a regular cleaning schedule for your appliances. After all, cleanliness is next to godliness!

2.Electrical Maintenance

Electrical appliances require more careful handling than regular ones. Avoid moisture and excessive heat, and do periodic maintenance to make sure they operate safely. Red flags to watch out for in electric appliances are usually frayed wires, melted or burnt prongs, and the like. If you see these markers early on, get our appliance checked and disconnect it from the socket. If you don’t do so, you could be dealing with fires pretty soon

3.Filters

Many household appliances make use of a filter. Examples of these are furnaces, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers and even your air conditioning. Should your appliance contain a filter, it is important to regularly clean and replace them. Indications as to how often you must do this are usually found in the manual or manufacturer’s instructions. If you fail to clean or replace your filters, they may become filled with debris. This could lead to damage to your appliance, reduced power and effectivity, and in some cases, health hazards.

4.Hoses

Just like filters, hoses are a common feature in household appliances. You’ll often find them in kitchen appliances such as dishwashers and refrigerators. Washing machines and air conditioners can also have some form of hosing or tubing. Have these checked regularly to make sure they aren’t clogged, cracked, or punctured. Hoses that are malfunctioning often lead to trouble. These appliances make use of a lot of water, so keep your hoses in tip top shape to avoid puddles all over! It’s also good to note that most hoses should be replaced after about 5 years

5.Professional Maintenance

You may own certain appliances that require more specialized kinds of maintenance. Not everyone knows how to test the Freon level in an air conditioner, or checking the transmission in a vacuum cleaner. As such, licensed professionals who know how to do these things are at your disposal. Don’t be afraid to call in a professional for help- it’ll help your appliances last far longer and running more effectively.

Every homeowner should be responsible enough to care for their home and the appliances that fill it. Considering the fact that we often spend quite a lot purchasing these tools to improve our homes, protecting that investment avoids wastefulness. If you maintain your appliances properly, you’ll have the convenience of effective machines to make your life easier. If you need help, check these guys out.

How to Take Care of Your Stainless Steel Cookware

Having a well stocked larder and the right equipment is one of the secrets to a successful kitchen. Foundational culinary training teaches that one of the best materials for equipment is stainless steel. Not just great for effectivity, stainless steel equipment is versatile, tough, and is one of the best in terms of longevity. Given that, it doesn’t come cheap to find the best cookware like Chef John site. Here, we detail a few tips and tricks to help you care for your stainless steel cookware.

Get Rid of Burnt Food

Those of us used to cleaning up in the kitchen know how annoying burnt food can be. Stuck to the bottom of the pan or those hard to reach areas in your cookware, they present quite a challenge. Don’t attempt to scrape them off, however! Doing so just might damage your cookware. The best thing to do is to soak the cookware for up to an hour in soapy water. Don’t let it soak too long, as this can also damage the finish. Experts have mixed feelings about using dishwashers to get rid of the annoying remnants that burnt food leaves, but agree that dishwashers can be helpful too. Do not forget to remove your stainless steel cookware and dry them by hand.

Avoid Harsh Products

Again, anything too abrasive that may scratch or leave gouges in your cookware is a big no-no. If you want to keep the finish of your stainless steel equipment intact, avoid cleaning products that are either too abrasive or too harsh. For example, stay away from bleach and ammonia based cleaners as these will have detrimental effects on your equipment. These substances are too harsh for stainless steel and even for other equipment, and will affect the finish of your cookware. A very simple cleaning agent everyone must have in the pantry is baking soda. Mix a bit of it with water and thoroughly rub the surface, and you’ll have clean cookware in no time.

Hard Water Away!

Hard water is simply water that has a lot of calcium content. These manifest in those annoying white spots that you see on glass, mirrors, and even your cookware. As pesky as they may seem, hard wage spots are actually pretty easy to clean. Arm yourself with warm water and a nice, soft cloth and you’re ready. Hand washing them with warm to hot water will help get rid of these hard water spots.

Understanding and implementing good cleaning habits in the kitchen is critical to the success of any chef, whether you’re a cooking enthusiast, budding cook, or professional chef. Cleanliness and order is highly important in the kitchen, not just for making great food but also for helping your equipment last longer. These are simple tips and tricks that will get your stainless steel cookware gleaming in no time. You’ll truly get your money’s worth and make your equipment last, so you can continue cooking great food and honing your culinary skills!

You’ve finally wrapped up that shoot. Skip the analysis.

bigmouth

You’ve finally wrapped up that shoot. Skip the analysis.


Why Does A Dog………
doglick
“Here is a term we used when I was working in another market. “Dog lick live shot”
Those live shots we did for live sake.
” Why does a dog lick his balls?
‘Cause he can!” 

From:PhotogsLounge 1997


tiredHey Cameraman!You know who you are!
 

 

-Vidiot’s Glossary
-Top Ten Editor Lies

-The Difference Between a Reporter and a Photog

-Photogs’ Embarassing Moments
puke

“I pulled my eye out of the viewfinder and looked to my left just in time to see the other shooter vomiting over the back rail of the platform…More.


vantowed2C’mon…make me laugh!
-Caption Contest

After the Shoot

aftertheshoot

You’ve just finished editing the package and knocking out the two live shots in a city unfamiliar to you. Time for some R and R. What to do? Where to go? Here’s where you can help other photogs find a good time in your fair city. You can tell us where to go for a quick visit to get the most out of a short stay in your town.


Atlanta, GA…
 
“When you visit Atlanta and you feel the need to turn it loose…go to Buckhead. All of the cabs know where it is. Lots of hip and hot bars…

 

Glossary: ”Lens Meat”
Definition: A reporter
From: Dan Konik WBNS TV Columbus, Ohio

 

Is Your Video Archive Flaking Out?

 

me_sceneIt’s probably the best-known engineering problem — and most stations do nothing about it: the limited life span of videotape.

Until recently, only major networks and studios could justify the time and expense of backing up old content or storing the originals off site. But the explosion of licensed video sites and the fast-growing market for documentary footage have created new opportunities for stations to monetize old footage. That is, for stations who can locate and transfer their footage on demand.But when it comes to videotape, age both giveth and taketh away. By the time old footage achieves nostalgic and historic market value, it has probably suffered physical deterioration. Too often, potential profits have already evaporated. Or more accurately, flaked away.

“Magnetic recording tape was never designed as a long-term storage medium,” says Peter Brothers, founder of SPECS BROS, a magnetic tape restoration facility in Lodi, N.J.

“Most tapes have not been stored properly,” says Brothers. “Just like any other material, video tape decays when exposed to harmful environments.”

Unfortunately, that describes any environment that includes heat or cold, which expand or contract the tape, causing gradual stretching and structural damage. An even worse culprit is humidity.

“Moisture causes a chemical reaction called binder hydrolysis, which breaks down molecules in the recording and backing layers of the tape. This leaves a sticky residue, which can foul tape machine play heads or physically jam altogether during playback,” says Brothers.

Brothers ought to know. He’s been studying the problem for 25 years and helped establish industry standards for tape preservation and restoration for SMPTE, the American National Standards Institute and others.

Videotape fares best in cool temperatures at 30 percent humidity, which occurs naturally in underground salt mines, such as those maintained by Iron Mountain. But even under ideal conditions, tapes begin to deteriorate after 20 to 25 years.

“Each tape format presents its own challenges for how it decays over time,” says Doug Warner, the Director of Engineering for the Paley Center for Media (formerly the Museum of TV & Radio) which maintains in-house equipment to play back most major videotape formats, including two-inch quad, one inch, and all videocassette formats.

“The majority of our collection came in as 3/4-inch sub-masters,” says Warner. And because the 3/4-inch U-Matic tape format is nearly 40 years old, Warner’s staff has been working for years to create digital backups of the collection, an ongoing task that might literally never end.

Of course, to be duplicated a tape must first be playable. And tapes over 30 years old very often require physical restoration. That’s the focus of Video Interchange, the company Bob Pooler launched in 2002 in Waldoboro, Maine, where Pooler lovingly maintains a dizzying assortment of fading or defunct magnetic media players.

A lifetime of broadcast engineering experience plus more recent trial and error has made Bob Pooler a master of tape restoration. Among his favorite techniques is tape baking, the craft of baking magnetic tape to stabilize its layers long enough for one safe ride past the play heads.

Brothers helped to invent and perfect tape baking and other restorative methods described on his Web site. Although Pooler and Brothers have never met, they agree that repairing mere moisture damage is the easy part.

In addition to a wide range of domestic accidents, including countless dog-chewed cassettes and toddlers armed with lethal jelly sandwiches, Pooler’s greatest challenge was restoring tapes damaged in during Katrina flooding.

“Most of the tapes were exposed to nearly every known contaminant, including some disgusting ones. For our own health and safety, we had to disinfect the tapes without compromising the binder layer.”

“Sewage is no fun,” agrees Brothers who likewise considers Katrina damage his major challenge, alongside the restoration of videos damaged during military action, the nature of which he’s not at liberty to discuss.

Because a “restored” master tape remains highly fragile, that first playback is usually the only one. It’s routinely double-recorded for safety’s sake.

“The new digital technology could not have come at a better time,” says Bob Pooler. “Previously, we could only back up tapes analog to analog. And every tape generation meant an additional loss of quality.”

Whatever new technologies lie ahead, says Pooler, “we’ll be able to make lossless transfers to the new media, say, every 30 years or so.”

Peter Brothers agrees, but notes that the arrival of digital technology presents new problems. “For over 20 years, two-inch analog tape was the only standard, so the biggest challenge was keeping the old machines in working order. But there’s no clear consensus in digital. So it’s not just the machines that become obsolete, but also a wide range of underlying technology such as codecs and other software.”

There’s also the matter of destination storage media. Although Pooler has restored and copied entire archives for professional clients, he says that the bulk of his business is “vintage family video and audio.” His clients are satisfied to receive ordinary DVDs, which are estimated to last for up to 80 years.

DVDs won’t work for broadcasters, says the Paley Center’s Warner. “Consumer DVDs only hold 4.7 gigabytes of data, so the video must be highly compressed. Our files are stored uncompressed for maximum quality. Most of them take at least 80 gigabytes.”

In addition to Paley Center hard drives, the backup medium of choice is Sony’s Digi-Beta tape. The same goes for SPECS BROS, which counts the Paley Center among its frequent clients for restoration services.

“Properly stored, Digi-Beta tapes should be good for 20-25 years,” says Peter Brothers.

Despite the industry migration to digital, a surprising number of professional clients continue to request analog playback, most often on Sony’s Beta SP or consumer Mini DV.

Both Brothers and Pooler are old enough to at least think about retirement. And both are worried that when they do, their expertise will leave the industry with them.

“It took me decades to acquire the necessary skills,” says Pooler, whose services are booked weeks in advance. I hardly have time to teach anyone how to use a scope and nobody is teaching vacuum tube theory. Maintaining this old equipment will soon be a lost art.”

Brothers is only a little more optimistic. “I do what I can. I’ve taught seminars on restoration and preservation for the Smithsonian and even NASA. There are schools, like NYU, which teach media preservation, but there really is no training in physical restoration.”

“But the good news is that once you transfer from analog to digital, the hard part is done,” adds Brothers. “The digital file contains all the metadata for a perfect transfer so future transfers can be done automatically.”

Should television news photographers be represented by unions?

 


(Letters from the archives of PhotogsLounge.net)

David R. Busse KABC-TV Los Angeles, CA
“I must answer the question of the week with a resounding YES with a disclaimer. I am currently jobless, having been locked-out of my news photographer job at KABC-TV Los Angeles in a labor dispute that began right after Halloween. I’ve never been through a strike or lockout before. So I could tell you about all the great wages and benefits that ABC-TV has provided me over almost two decades, but I could also tell you what it’s like to suddenly have none of that…and to lose it as a result of the actions of some people in New York whom I have never met nor heard from, soliciting MY opionion of whether this job action is really necessary to achive a new contract.
However, I must say this. How many of you go to work every day and see the person who actually owns your TV station? Darn few of us do (I did 20 years ago at a station where employees were treated fairly with great respect). How many toil under situations where the management of the newsroom is a revolving door, with news directors and henchmen coming and going every few months? TV news is in a huge turmoil and the bean-counters are calling the shots like never before. With no union, you can forget any work rules or system of discipline that favor anyone except management. Wages? They’ll keep ‘em as low as they can, as long as there are piles of resumes and audition tapes hitting the door every day from hungry college grads who will work for anything just to get a foot in the door. And how many of the managers at your station have ever worked in the newsroom or (gak) been a news photographer? Think they really understand the demands of our job, anyway?
At the same time, there’s a stability of employment in a lot of newsrooms. In the old days, a good photog could get in a pissing contest with a new news director, quit, make a few phone calls and probably get hired immediately across town or in another market. There is not the turnover there once was, so people are staying “put.” With all this and more, I would consider my union dues “money well spent”…the dynamics of the business today make collective bargaining among TV news photographers a necessity. I had no choice of whether to join a union or be represented this way…the system was well in place when I joined ABC 18 years ago…but I am convinced that my standard of living is much higher than it would be without it. I am not a gung-ho activist, but the realities of the business make the union a necessity. ”


Chas Evans WAAY-TV Huntsville,AL
“I don’t believe that there’s any reason for unions to represent photogs. Let’s face reality… if you’re good, you’re good. Once upon a time, there may have been a need for unions. But, as businessess have learned, the best way to attract and maintain the best employees is to offer them the better salary and benefits than the competition. Unions only seem to excel at sucking their revenue from their members, then spending it on furthering their own agendas. Sure, management has the upper hand. Sure, I wish I could call the shots. But I didn’t invest the Millions it takes to run a station. If the station feels that I need less money or benefits than I agreed to upon my hire… there’s always the station across the street.


Anonymous in Texas
“I heard an interesting story today about a union incident, in either Chicago or Los Angeles. Apparently the unions think it is their prerogative to follow news units out to their stories. A recent crew was sent out to a scene where a parents’ child had been murdered. While the news crew was attempting to interview the grief stricken mother the unions started harassing both the family members and the news crews. The mother said something to the union guys only to be harassed some more. The family was taken over to a wall so the unions couldn’t be seen in the background but one union guy was able to stick his friggin’ sign in the back of the shot between the family and the wall. I also saw many pickets going out of their way to get in the shots of the NBA players a couple of days ago following the end of the lockout. I realize the majority of the union is most likely made of up hardworking, decent people. But why do so many have to make a complete ass out of themselves? I would be embarrassed if these morons were representing me out on the streets. And they wonder why management doesn’t want to deal with them? There has to be some sort of line drawn.
Most of the letters I’ve seen here tout the MONEY. Granted, all photogs aren’t going to retire early but if you don’t like your pay find another job. I often think how great I have it when I’m out on a story and see people who work a FULL 8 hour shift of hard, manual labor. You can’t tell me our jobs aren’t unique. Most union photogs don’t edit their stuff (and it often shows) and never have. I’ve never understood that either. I’ve seen their slop on the air in many of the major markets. I guess that’s what happens when you’re worried about that one hour lunch break coming up in 5 minutes. Again, I know the majority of unions are filled with hard working photogs who love their jobs. It’s the few who don’t (unions or not) that make the rest look bad. If you don’t like it–quit and stop bitching about it. “


Al Lozano KREM-TV Spokane, WA
“I think it’s a good idea for photojournalists to be represented by a union. We at KREM are represented by IBEW, which I’m not exactly certain is the correct union, but they were brought in long before I arrived here. It’s my feeling that if we did not have the union on our side, we could loose some very important benefits.. mostly in terms of pay and overtime pay. I think we are the only union shop left in Spokane now. I used to work across town, which was not and is not a union shop. Pay there was not set by any scale… it didn’t matter if you had 6 months experience or 16 yrs experience. Pay at that station was set by how well you got along with the news director, and if he liked you, and if you had a family to support or were single. I was single so I made less then some of my cowokers, even though I was the chief photographer. I’m sure things like this still go on at some stations without unions. So my answer would have to be YES, we need the representation and support of a union to help us keep up our benefits.”


Scott Shulman ABC News Los Angeles, CA
“As a 22 year employee of ABC, and one who has been walking a picket line for the past 6 weeks, I can tell you the upside and the downside of unions. I have never been one to wave the union flag, but I do recognize the necessity of having the ability to bargain collectively. In a market the size of Los Angeles, most stations are owned by large corporations such as General Electric, or Disney. In general, the unions have had strong contracts and employees have been rewarded with good benefits and competitive pay. With the frantic rush of management to disposable work forces, it is the unions that have attempted to turn the tide. Corporations that have no problem with 40 or 50% daily hires in the ranks don’t understand the concept of loyalty or quality. They do understand stock prices and shareholders.
Our union, NABET, has been attempting to negotiate a contract for almost 2 years. The issues facing our membership have never been pay issues, but disagreements over jurisdiction, pension, and medical benefits. While we fight over 4 or 5 million dollars in contributions to our retirement fund, the company hires non-union crews to double-staff each Monday Night Football game, this at a cost of over 14 million dollars to date. Now all work is being done by non-union workers, as we have been locked out of our jobs since a one-day strike at the beginning of November. Some members blame the union for mis-calculating the resolve of the company to force the kind of contract they want. Others blame Disney, whose record profits and outrageous executive salaries never cease to amaze the lowly newsphotog. It’s hard to listen to Mickey sing the blues of network TV, when you realize that this is the company that paid an unproductive Michael Ovitz almost 140 Million Dollars just to leave the company. Not to mentions this weeks receipts from “A Bugs Life”.
Are unions necessary? Maybe yes, maybe no. It depends where you work, and how the company feels about its employees. How do you think you would fare one-on-one against Michael Eisner or Rupert Murdoch? I’m not sure I’d want to enter that ring without the tape rolling.”


Anonymous
“We definitely need unions. As a matter of fact, it would be wise for IATSE, NABET, IBEW, AFTRA and SAG to merge into one union. Why? The strength in numbers. Entertainment companies across the spectrum are merging their behinds off. These conglomerates are laying workers off, left and right. All in the name of “corporate greed”. Our unions need to come together; leave their titles and ego’s at the door, (and not pick them up on the way out) and examine a way for all of the aforementioned unions to become one. At this point in the game (and millennium) it is vital to our survival in the broadcast and motion picture industry. None of the top union officials will be displaced. Given the number of locals, coupled with the rank and file members in existence, there is plenty of work for the union officials and staff at each local. All of the rank and file would continue paying their dues as usual.
However, some re-assignments of titles would be necessary at the union headquarters. There is no need to decrease the salary of the union officials and staff. To a degree, the entertainment companies have rendered the unions impotent. When one corporate head (who shall remain un-named) makes 600 gozillion dollars and has the audacity to lay off workers that’s crazy. What person needs to make over 50-million dollars to live comfortably? Better yet, if we had one union, those layoffs could not take place. Do you know why? Because our one union would be in a position to protest such an action effectively. If a company is truly healthy, there is no need to lay off if employees. To lay people off to simply increase your stock holders bottom line is wrong. In my opinion, our one union would do a better job policing such corporate behavior. Just imagine, every camera operator, technician, reporter, actor, assignment editor, writer, director, sound tech, make-up artist and everyone else affiliated with producing the on screen product in one union! The R-E-S-P-E-C-T would return to the union and the rank and file immediately.
We simply must move into the 21st century prepared to deal with the new management style of these entertainment giants. If in fact all of the unions became one, our brothers and sisters at ABC would not be on the street today. Management would have to negotiate in good faith, or studios would quite frankly, be shut down. No one would show up for work. Given the power that the one union would have, scabs, “wanna bee’s” with little, or no experience, and all others who live below the curb would think 5 times before crossing a picket line. I am personally in favor of having a union.
Over the years, I’ve witnessed the union intervening on behalf of the rank and file. When managers have attempted to circumvent portions of a contract. Penalize people for not compromising their safety in a life threatening situation. Or just being totally intimidating “because they can”. The union was there. However, it is time for us to get smarter ladies and gentlemen. I for one hope and pray that our beloved unions would come together collectively and work out something palatable for all of us in the industry. If ever there was a time for one union, it is now. Solidarity forever! Viva uno union!”


Dave Putnam KABC-TV Los Angeles, CA
” I have to give my endorsement to union representation for television photographers. This need is especially acute in the major markets. In this day of mega-mergers and expanding station groups we should all feel the urgent need to band together and set some minimum standards for benefits and compensation. We often find ourselves called upon to work long hours during nights, weekends and holidays often having to leave home on a moment’s notice and not return for days or weeks at a time. Often this work is done under less than ideal conditions. The level of our frustration is often compounded by a growing legion of management that really has no practical experience or concept of what we go through on a daily basis to get our jobs done and get the show on the air. This is happening at a time when the companies we work for are still making major profits and paying their upper managers extraordinary compensation. As the bean counters have moved into the day to day management of many of our bureaus and stations, we have all felt the general attitude of disdain for the rank and file.
More and more often, we are looked upon as a disposable workforce of “daily hires” and “casual employees”. Some of us have not helped our cause by our willingness to bend over backward in order to get that next, “better” job. In this era of “casual employment”, I often find myself working side by side with people who work 40+ hours a week year after year with no real job security, health insurance, sick time, pension, 401K plan or vacation. These people would jump at the chance for full time employment but the companies feel no obligation to provide it due to the cut-throat attitude of potential employees in smaller markets that are willing to take part time jobs to further their careers. The unions have seen this rising trend of part timers and has tried to stem the growth whenever possible, but they are also trying to improve the general conditions that those who choose non staff jobs are working under.
We all know that daily news coverage requires pretty much a steady level of employees to get the show on the air, yet the companies that we work for are making demands of workers for less security and compensation. At least with a collective bargaining agreement in place the companies can be held to some level of obligation to hire full time employees and give their ” casual employees” a little bigger slice of the pie. If you want to see what big time television would be like without a union contract, talk to some of the folks at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut to find out what the conditions are like in a non-union shop. You probably then will see why they are seriously considering seeking NABET-CWA to represent them.
As our employers have grown in size by mergers and sales, so have our unions. When I came to work for ABC in 1981, I joined NABET, which at that time was a pretty small operation. While ABC grew in size through a merger with Capital Cities and a sale to Disney, NABET affiliated with the CWA, which is a large multifaceted union that represents workers in many trades. Through this affiliation, my union can now rely on CWA’s leverage and vast pool of resources to help negotiate a contract that offers some pretty decent standards. CWA has people on their staff that deal only with contract negotiation and member mobilization. In the old pre-CWA days NABET was the proverbial bug on the windshield of a Cadillac. Now at least with CWA, we are the rock on the windshield of a Peterbilt.
I am glad to support my union with a small portion of my salary (1.25%) in order to deal from a relative position of strength when it comes to contract negotiation. During the current lockout at ABC, the clout of CWA has been able to convince the vast majority of the Democratic Party to boycott ABC News by honoring our picket line and refusing to grant interviews to SCAB crews. This has crippled ABC’s ability to give balanced coverage of the current impeachment proceedings as “Nightline” and “This Week” have become a virtual Republican forum. Without the sense of urgency to remedy this dilemma and get negotiations moving forward, I’m sure that the company would have no problem keeping us out of our jobs for several more months. In the days before CWA came on the scene, this would not have had a chance of occurring even in our wildest dreams. My union has given me the opportunity to gain knowledge in the non-linear editing area by helping to arrange and subsidize ongoing training. NABET has offered this training to all of its’ members. In contrast, ABC has only begun to make vague offers of training to whomever it sees fit. They would rather see this new technology which is the natural progression from our current videotape format fall into the hands of non represented employees. Through negotiation, NABET has also been able to push the company into setting up a union/management safety committee at my station that helps provide a dialog in order to make our work safer. Even with this committee in place, KABC has fought any training or written guidelines for our members with tooth and nail. Often times you may hear that the presence of a union causes a very restrictive work environment. I have not found this to be the case at ABC. I have been able to increase my expertise in many job functions while working under union conditions thus becoming an employee with a lot more value than what I arrived with.
You may have also heard stories of lazy, unmotivated union workers, but I have news for you; there are lazy, unmotivated non-union workers also. ABC has the contractual ability to get rid of unproductive union members if management sees fit to do so. More often than not, I have seen managers at ABC turn their back on situations where they are not getting the most “bang for the buck” from a union employee. Instead of facing the problem head-on and dealing with poor work habits or lack of training, the management instead chooses to blame the union for their lack of ability to motivate or discipline these less productive members of their staff. This dysfunctional scenario is brought on by management’s failure to know and understand the work rules of the agreements put in place by their own labor relations departments and the unions that represent their employees. This situation is further worsened by a certain amount of laziness and lack of true leadership on management’s part. The union also gives a better security blanket to protect workers who may be singled and given a hard time just because they may be outspoken or out of favor.


Andy Dubrovsky WHDH-TV Boston, MA
“Almost all Boston tv photogs are represented by the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) or as we jokingly refer to it : I Bowl Every Wednesday. For the most part I find that it’s quite helpful to have the Union on our side. In the past twenty five years our station has been through three different owners and without the union contract I’m sure we would have all been out on the street a long time ago. The union is not anywhere near as powerful as it was two decades ago. Management can do just about anything it wants with us EXCEPT: lay us off, or give vacations, holidays or shift picks out of seniority. Negotiations can be quite nerve-racking. We recently signed a new contract, but before that we worked for over a year without one, while talks went on. we received wage increases of about 3% per year. I believe that we could have gotten larger increases if we were not represented by a union, but the raises would have been based on performance evaluations. Although evaluations can be good at times, I personally don’t trust management to be fair and equitable in these circumstances. It leaves the door open for too much ass-kissing, and creates a lot of bad feeling among the troops. The main drawback that I can see in being represented by a union, is that it protects some people who don’t deserve protection. In any shop there are a few malingerers or whiners. The company can’t fire them unless they are drinking, drugging or stealing on the job. The good workers wind up picking up the slack for them and that isn’t fair. However, when I’m sixty, and have 38 years seniority over the other shooters, you can bet your ass I will expect a little better treatment. What it all comes down to is that I’ve worked under 16 news directors during my career here. Eight were total idiots, three were evil, two didn’t last long enough for me to form an opinion. Only three news directors had my complete and total confidence. With those odds, I’m glad that I was protected by the IBEW. “


Greg Kahl WMFD-TV Mansfield, OH
“Should television news photographers be represented by labor unions? Yes… I’m a rookie videographer working for a news department that currently has only two full-time shooters. We recently had a semi-pro basketball league move into our town. Our GM is a partner with the local franchise and decided to televise their home schedule without consulting the crew that is supposed actually do the work. So I’m currently working six to seven days a week (60-70 hrs.) with no pay raise. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and enjoy shooting sports, but it would be nice to have some representation in situations like this. The shit keeps getting piled higher, but they don’t hire anyone to shovel it. My benefits are also lousy, but hey… you’ve got to pay your dues and get experience somewhere.”


Kurt Weinschenker WTRF-TV Wheeling, WV
“Tough question with NLE getting cheaper and cheaper to do. I’d say 95% of station managers care more about their bottom line than they do their people. I figure that’s why unions get formed in the first place. Once entrenched, unions are hard to get rid of. Why managers just can’t treat people decently in the first place is something that positively boggles my mind. The trouble for us photogs is that we don’t have the star power to individually ask for more money. So we have to do it collectively. And that means unions, collective bargaining, contracts, grievances, and lawyers, with all the grief that goes with them. What will kick over all the applecarts in the relationship between management and photographers will be NLE. I’ve been playing with a Panasonic EZ-30 the past couple weeks. Mini-DV tape format, 3 – 1/3 inch CCDs, firewire (IEEE 1394 I/O), and about the size of a large paperback book. The video is fantastic. It what most can do with a AJ-D700 DVC Pro camera. I could see it replace the big camera for about 80% of the shooting I do for a network affiliate. What’s more, editing is ridiculously easy. Pop the camera onto its docking station, and blow the video straight into a Power Macintosh equipped with a firewire board. (FWIW, the next generation of Macs, due out this time next year, will have firewire ). Edit with Adobe Premiere and spit it out via firewire wherever you want — straight to a server, or back to a mini-DV tape, or out to one of the new Panasonic D230H decks with a firewire connector. The advent of cameras like the EZ-30 coupled with inexpensive workstations like the next generation of Power Macs will cause real problems for places that have unions already. The job classifications will become obsolete. And collective bargaining will get ugly. Who do you want to put out of a job today?
I suppose, on balance, I want a union — sometimes it’s the only safety net between you and management stupidity. On the other hand, after working with an EZ-30 the past couple weeks — I figure the relationship between management and photographer will change. There’s a real danger the “cameraman” in the classic sense will become obsolete. And while I a union will help, I’m not sure how it will help.”


Richard Weiss KTVU-TV
“That’s an interesting question. If News (and station/network) management was as ethical in the labor sense as they profess to be in the journalistic sense there would be no need for unions. Unfortunately they are neither. On the other hand I belong to three unions (IBEW, NABET/CWA, and IA). They seem to be an add on businesses that suck money from the membership w/o any real benefit to the r&f, especially the daily hires. Between the three unions, if I die today, they wouldn’t pay out enough to bury me. I could get cremated but my wife would have to bring her own box to take away my ashes. I have to tell you the NABET/ Disney lockout is really hurting me. I had no say in the original action. I will derive no benefit no matter what the out come. It’s going to be a hard Christmas!”


Jason Strzalkowski WNEM TV-5 Flint/Saginaw/Bay City, MI
“This is the first shop I’ve done with a union. At first glance, I thought it was great. Our pay is near 30% more than our competitors, good insurance, good vacation time. but as time goes on, we get to realize that in the last contract, news and more specifically, photographers were sold down the river on a few very vaguely worded policies. We were told “don’t worry, we wont be nazis about this. We will be flexible.” Wow! If that wasn’t the kiss of death. The union has been slowly letting more and more things go for assumed station policy, when they don’t appear in the contract. I don’t know if it would be any better w/o a union, but i know the one we have must be saying “What Photogs?


Anonymous Cincinnati, OH
“In Cincinnati, two stations are union and two are non-union. Since I work at one of the non-union stations I think that I can safely say that our staff makes (on average) the lowest wages in town. I enjoy the benefits of seniority even though we don’t have a contract. This isn’t always the case though. We have no pay scale, schedules are not guaranteed, and we generally lack any bargaining ability. Would a Union help? We’ll never find out because we would be out on the street in a heartbeat if management even believed that we were considering a Union. I’ll stay anonymous on this one, I wouldn’t want the bosses to believe that the “grunts” were thinking for themselves.”


John DuMontelle LATINCAM Managua, Nicaragua“During my career so far, I have worked both union and non union shops. The short answer to your question is, if you have good stable management at your place of work, you shouldn’t need a union. The reality in todays world is different. Regular management turnover and the ever present quest for the bottom line require some kind of defense/representation for those of us who actually do the work in television. To many kids today do not realize the only reason there is such a thing as 40 hour work weeks, overtime pay, paid vacations, health plans, merit raises, cost of living raises and many more are all due to unions. Without the unions, non of this would have happened. Yes, I know all the union horror stories. I’ve lived through too many horror stories of my own in non union shops. I pick union.”


Anonymous
“If it weren’t for unions we would all be making $6.00 per hour and cleaning floors and toilets along with our Photography/editing duties . In these “New Days” of broadcasting where downsizing and expanded job descriptions are part of everyday life, union representation is almost a mandatory thing. Without it you might as well get in line for food stamps. If you are not represented currently, you should really get the ball rolling and get a union to represent your shop. Nabet/CWA and IBEW are the major broadcast unions. You will find it easier to make a living and you won’t have to move every year or two to give youself a cost of living wage increase. Then you can concentrate on your JOB instead of worrying about whether you can pay your rent, buy groceries, and pay for your car insurance. “ 


Thomas Blakely VCPT/WNVT
“Tough, tough question. I see two sides. On the one hand, Unions do guarantee better pay, and generally fairer working conditions. OTOH, they also mean you can’t edit your own stuff, and some of the Union folks I’ve witnessed are definately just cruising along with no care or thought to what they put out. Frankly, I think it’d be best if stations were required to at least pay, say 85% of Union scale. Then, maybe, us Non-Union folks could work 40hrs and still afford to eat. “


Mark Cosson KTVF-TV Fairbanks, Alaska
“Considering the crappy pay photojournalists get in the smaller markets, why not be represented by a union…”


Chuck Dennis KBAK-TV Bakersfield, CA.
“I truly feel that as a whole we are exploited to the enth degree…. No lunches, no breaks, unrequested comp. time and, when it comes time to use the comp. time it is denied. No body armor or foul wheather gear and the list goes on…..Its about time that we as a collective group stand up for ourselves….Its been said before that T.V. is nothing but radio without video and, this industry should be forced to recognize this…. We work harder and longer than any of our co-workers and in a normal shift can be in a cow pasture one minute and with leaders of nations the next.”


Anonymous Richmond, VA
“So far, I’ve only worked in non-union shops. Pay sucks (3 1/2 % is supposed to be a fair raise?) Maybe if you make $80K, but at less than $20K, it’s almost insulting. However, I can to my one man band thing which I enjoy from time to time, I used to be a reporter and every once in a while I like to write a VOSOT or two. I guess I couldn’t do that at a union shop (correct me if I am wrong). Also, except for one guy, every union shooter I met has been “a slacker just wanting to punch the clock” (the words of a D.C. area reporter who qualified the remarks by saying they do get off their butt during a crisis). So far, the pay has been so bad at the non-union shops that unions are looking good. (Hey, union guys, sell your shops to us. Let us know how good/bad your situation is!)”


Anonymous 
“Should we be represented by unions? Not yes, but HELL YES! I would LOVE to use the following lines… To the editor: “I would love to pick up your slack. I know you’ve had a rough day of making personal phone calls. I know you’re behind, obviously, and you need help. Heck, it’s 5 till showtime! But I’m union. So it looks like YOU’RE screwed. Oh, I need the phone when you’re finished.” To the news director: “Drive where? Do you have any idea how long that would take? I wouldn’t receive a lunch break. What would OSHA think about that? What would my union rep think about that? Send Tom. He isn’t union.” To my reporter: “My union rep said I can break your wrist if you try to touch my camera again.” Oh boy! I wish we were union!”

My Nightmare!!

 

Elise Moir KTVK-TV Phoenix, AZ

storystamp88
“If you’ve ever had a Photographer Nightmare, then you can understand this story, but it wasn’t a dream. I was doing some yard work one day at my house when I noticed some strange vehicles driving around my street. Finally I asked who they were, and they were the cops (Sheriff Dept.) staking out a house about 10 houses down from mine. No biggie, went back to my lawn. Next day, I hear a Sheriff Chopper above, and yup, it’s flying over that house. So I call the station, and drive over there. There is another photog there, good scanner ears, and when I get out, he say’s, “Hurry up, shots fired”.

So I, in my gardening attire, run to the back of my car, and proceed to put on my brick battery. IT WON’T GO ON!!!! I think I was so excited, I was a little rough. I can’t get my battery on my camera, and I have 4 people sitting in the driveway in hand cuffs, a couple were shot and screaming for help. Come to find out a cop had been shot as well, they killed a guy, and MY CAMERA ISN’T WORKING!!! I find that if I hold the battery on, and just put my camera on the ground, I can roll tape. That does me a lot of good though. I notice the problem, it’s the little pin on the plate that holds the battery, it’s bent. So I try to bend it back and it breaks off!!! Now I’m totally @#&%$!!! While the other photog is getting great stuff, I’m just sitting there wondering what to do. WHAT A NIGHTMARE!! Then I look up, and there’s a neighbor with his VHS-C cam corder. I run up to him and ask if I can use his camera. He gives it to me, and I’m golden. I get the cop getting brought out, and all the other stuff that goes with it. Granted, it looked like home video, even had the date, time, and life of the battery, but it’s better than drawing pictures. Now, when I put my brick on my camera, I do it very softly.”


More Photog “Whatchashoot” Stories

-”Would you ever stop shooting video to help at a scene”
“I had been on scene for 10 mins when a fireman yells: “There’s someone under this van! We gotta move this thing!” There was no tow truck around. I was standing about 10 feet from the van” More…

-”I watched a guy die today”
“I see a head move, then a hand. Both slightly stained with blood, but not much. I figure the guy is coming too and basically waking up from his drunk. Not the case.. he was gasping for air.” 

-Aussie Gunplay
“The gunman turned away from us and walked the other way up the street. PUT THE GUN DOWN! He started to raise one of the guns he had and… CRACK CRACK CRACK……”

-Flooded Fido
“It was weird doing the breast stroke and occassionally feeling your foot hit a car’s roof or antenna.” 

-Chopper Crash
“He got to about a thousand feet and his tail is cut off and the chopper starts a death spiral.”

-Deer Me
“Just as I pass the deer, it is coming back into my headlights, WHOOOOAAAA! “