Friday, January 21, 2005

Get that camera out of my face!

All the threats and violence I've seen in recent weeks against people working in news media is seriously bothering me. I can't tell you how much spitting on me is going to ruin my day.

People are jumping to the assumption that anyone with a camera (video or still) is a tabloid paparazzi vulture. It pretty often feels like we're being stereotyped and that creates a very hostile atmosphere. Suddenly we have fewer rights than "regular" people.

(Day after one of the Staple Center Riots)

On the other hand I've been there when my fellow news photographers and I are tripping all over ourselves as we backpedal in front of a famous (or infamous) newsmaker. I'll admit at those times it feels like our reputation isn't completely undeserved. It's just unfortunate that out of all the good we do, images from those moments are the ones that people remember.

Having been in that type of scene, I admit it's difficult to not get caught up in the adrenaline rush of getting the shot that makes the story better visually or getting that quick and unscripted off the cuff remark.

I think people still need to understand that the majority of the time, that's not how we operate. The presence of a camera doesn't immediately set off a feeding frenzy.

(On the street in front of Robert Blake's House)

I can't quote the laws that directly relate to my right to videotape someone. If you're out in public view, the assumption is that your expectation to privacy is different than if you were sitting in your livingroom.

(Round the clock in front of David Westerfield's home)

That doesn't excuse bad behavior from us or the public.

I tend to be courteous about what I do and I'll avoid shooting someone who is trying to avoid being in my shot. I feel bad when I see people realize that they're walking in front of a rolling camera and they start doing the ducking zig-zag dance. People, just so you know, you're never out of frame. It's just making you look goofy.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I tend to avoid shooting people who aren't part of the story I'm covering. If you happen to be standing next to Michael Jackson, Robert Blake, or Donald Trump. . .come on, let's just be realistic.

(Outside of the home of Danielle Van Dam)

If you see me with my camera covering the news, try not to push me, jump on me, or throw bottles at me. I'm not breaking the law to do my job and you shouldn't break the law to try and stop me from doing my job.

At some point you'll be held accountable for your actions, just as I'm held accountable for mine.


magz said...

oh most exellent post! a really truely tuff question, privacy vs right-to-know... and i like your take on it bry!

so many celebs (famous or infamous) scratch and claw and climb to the spotlight, just to complain that 'I vant.. to be.. all-hone...'

comes with the territory i think, but it's made ME feel danged furtive sneaking around my own fence lines to take pix of neighbors etc. I'll be back to see the debate YOU just sparked! (Wonder how many lurking celebs ya really got in yer readers.... he he he)

beFrank said...

Hey, I'd be curious to know if any Hollywood famous celebrities reads me.

Any celebs out there? Yoo-hoo, come out, come out whoever you are.

On the right to privacy? I think everyone has a right to privacy and I try to be respectful of that. I make mistakes and I'm human. It's easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment, but I'll take my lumps if I cross the line, make my apologies and not try to justify or defend my actions.

I wonder if anybody wants to hear about some of the mistakes I've made?

Michelle said...

Have to agree with Magz on this one. I can't believe people spit on you...what filthy dirty pigs they word........KHARMA.

Ruby in Paradise said...

And I thought only teachers were spit on by "preschoolers." : )

queenpat said...

Understand where you come from. I work for a TV station, small upstate NY and thankfully our shooters don't get as much crap as you mentioned in your blog. We did a standup in New Paltz, right around the time of the gay marriage/Mayor West hearing and when the crowd came roiling out of the courthouse, they knocked over the reporter, and stole her shoes and purse! (insert joke here). Usually, you get the kids acting goofy behind the reporter or some homeless person getting up close and personal with the camera. But people don't realize that TV News is a job, one that needs to be done and as unobtrusively as possible. We try to, but some people don't realize that.

Enjoy your blog quite a bit as do the cameramen I have passed along your link to. LA or NY, we can relate!

BeSane, BeFrank.

magz said...

beBold, oh sneaky celebs! If yer name's Antonio Banderas, Richard Gere, or John Cusak, please feel free to drop by my farm and admire pix of yerself... or offer any new ones, I'd be happy to do the exclusive...
I DO know that Jeff Bridges blogs... mostly cartoon stuff that he draws on a notepad thingie... its pretty cool! (Jeff hunny, yer welcome anytime of course... )

beFrank said...

My day is as unpredictable as the weather. Some of the time people you wouldn't expect to be well behaved will suprise you. More disappointing is when people who should know better, act like complete idiots. I've had grown men stand in the background behind reporters and call up people on their cell phones before our liveshots.