Saturday, 24 November 2012

Awkward Situations For A News Cameraman: Part 2.

There are a great many people we meet on the news gathering road as a cameraman. The situations we find ourselves in can be a minefield of should i or shouldn't i quandaries that can befuddle a card carrying member of the lens lugger institute.

Also, the invention of HD recording only serves to highlight the things that we, as news cameramen and women pick up on. We see and notice things that others don't before the camera rolls...

'Scuse me, but your nose hair needs a trim...

For example, How do you tell your silky haired female reporter that her ample frontage has become a temperature gauge, and we can all tell that it's pretty chilly outside. Do you shout "Has anyone seen the live truck wheel nuts..?"  No you don't. It's a tough one.

What do you say to a high flying correspondent who looks like his tie was knotted by the Boston Strangler..?

How do you tell the middle aged yummy mummy that the rouge red lipstick she is wearing is also stuck to her teeth, making her look like a extra from a cheap zombie flick..?

Could you tell a prominent politician, pre-shoot, that his shampoo doesn't work and he looks like he's just walked in from a snow storm..?

How do you gently move a bald man who is creating an overexposed hot spot by reflecting the sun into your lens, without embarrassing him or letting on as to why you're moving him..?

These are a test of a true, hardened cameraman. A lexicon of gentle hints, encouraging words and down right lies must be at the tip of your tongue if you are to make it through a working day. But that is not all you should have in the armoury at the bottom of your sound bag. To avoid the embarrassing, a certain level of awareness is needed.

Can you zoom in just enough on the subject to cut out the fact that he has clearly not shaken following his last trip to the urinals..?

Is it possible to anticipate the dork in the background who is about to re-arrange his family jewels just as the interview is at it's peak..?

How do you keep your patience in check, when the suited blowhole in front of camera cannot string more than three words together to form a sentence..?

You see, working in this business is not all about knowing how to rack the focus, light up the dark and expose the world at the correct Kelvin level. Oh no... Tact, tenaciousness, the ability to bullshit and an over capacity in the talking of bollocks, is also a mandatory requirement to shoot the news. You must gently inform strangers of their shortcomings without the barbs of insulting language. You must coerce, codify and conform to the nuances of your situation.

It is not... I repeat not acceptable to inform your interviewee that they are ruining your film by way of their inability to wash, apply makeup, speak the Queen's English or any other filthy personal habits that may manifest themselves on telly as the nation sits down at tea time.. We, as cameramen put up with it as a glorious sideshow, the quirks of the news gathering game, that must be kept in check.

So, if you ever find yourself in front of my camera and i hand you a handkerchief with a wink and a smile, go and check in the mirror... There's something horrible on your face. Unexpected laughter from the cameraman..? Check your zipper.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.