Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Shark.

It was last Friday morning, I had just dragged myself out of bed. The phone was hiding somewhere and I needed to find it to call in sick. How sick was I? Not very. Maybe not at all, but I felt like I needed to burn a sick day just to catch up and get my head straight.

I found the phone when it started ringing. It was the Iron Chief and he wanted to know how soon I could come in.

Dang.



Crews were already headed towards Solano Beach and we needed a satellite truck down there to put our reporters on TV for the noon show. It was 8:45am and I don't think anyone could really see that happening, but we worked out the best plan we could to try and pull a rabbit out.



While I pulled myself together, the Chief had the SNG unit brought down to my house. That saved us a lot of time.

After a quick load-in of my personal and overnight gear (you never know), I hit the road South.



That was the beginning of a long day. The longest workday I've had in a while.

As we expected, I got there too late for the noon shots. Not real late, just minutes too late to set up for a hit at 12:25pm. Our reporter was able to get on TV through the San Diego affiliate and I set up for the shots scheduled for 2:00pm and beyond.



The truck I was operating is a dual path truck. Without the technical mumbo-jumbo, that means we can send two separate signals out at the same time.

That's a good thing. My first actual liveshot of the day had two reporters needing to be on TV at nearly the same time. Reporter Dave Lopez was on one path and Suzi Suh was on the second.



I've seen operations at big stories where there are eight paths out. What we do is pretty simple compared to that, but still a pretty complicated juggling act for us. Well, not really for me. I've got a pretty good track record of putting people on TV when they need to be and I really know how to run our SNG trucks.

It's not very nice of me, but I really kind of dig it when everything is working right and I can tell the people who are easily freaked out to just. . .calm. . .down.



With everything we're going through to get our jobs done, no matter what people might think, we're still aware of the tragedy that others closer to the story are suffering.

Friends and family of the man killed in the shark attack were in the area all day. At one point near sundown, they gathered out on the beach.



Together they watched the setting sun. Some left flowers and others wrote "goodbye" in the sand.

Unexpectedly, I had to get my camera and sticks (tripod) and shoot the scene along with the other crews still on the story. There are more difficult moments in what we do, but there aren't many more difficult moments in life. I can only hope we didn't add to the grief.

The gentle surf and the setting sun seemed to be a very appropriate close to a tragic day. The friends and family left the beach. We had to stay and finish off our remaining newscasts.

Live at 10:00pm and 11:00pm, then a long lonely drive home.
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Monday, April 28, 2008

Care and Feeding of the News Photographer.

I'm trying to make good on all my promises. I said I would get back to you on the photo I posted the other day, but time and my new commitment to realistically prioritizing my activities made it difficult to complete this post.

I'll tell you more about that fiasco some other time.

Anyway, you should know that big city news photographer types work up a pretty big appetite while training on the Aurora edit system. Last week, it was probably more to my benefit that I was training Vic Anastasia.



Vic has been around for a while and is one of the unofficial keepers of the secrets of the Los Angeles News Photographers. Every station probably has a guy like Vic who knows where the best dives are for photog chow.



The photo I was teasing you with was part of the artistic expression of the customers of "Joe Peep's NY Pizza". They're located in Valley Village near Magnolia and Whitsett.



I'd never been to Joe Peep's, but I have to give them a hearty photog grunt of approval for the gutsy decor. The service was prompt and friendly and they were pushing a marker towards me to add my signature to the wall almost as soon as I had ordered.



I went for the house special combo with fresh mushrooms. The wedge of pizza they brought out looked like a slice of cake. It was stacked high with all the stuff I love.

Except Anchovies.

I passed on the anchovies. I was going to go all out, but for me, they tend to over power a pizza. I like them, but I'm careful about when I'll order them.



I'm glad Vic was doing well on the edit system. Against my better judgment, I had a second slice of pizza and I was stuffed. We got our training done, but I'd have been in bad shape if I had to do a lot of active coaching. This is where we would applaud my self restraint, but I think it's obvious, I don't have any.

Give Joe Peep's a try. They serve normal folks too, not just photogs. Just don't go telling everyone where you got the inside info on the place. I was trusted with one of our highly guarded photog secrets, so you didn't hear it from me.


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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Question.

Does anybody recognize this?



Shucks, I'm trying to actually get to work on time. If my training session is running smooth tonight, I'll pop back in and explain this bit of urban artistic expression.

It might not be what you think.

(or, you can probably figure it out by following the picture back to my Flickr page)
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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Where was I?

Shoot, I could have gone to Big bear last night. All I did yesterday was coach Scott Mackie on running one of our little satellite trucks.

He was trained on it a couple years back, but if you've never been sent out to actually do a satellite shot in a couple of years, it shouldn't come as any big surprise that, yes, there have been some changes in the truck. . .



. . .and yes, some of the things you were taught two (heck, maybe three) years ago no longer apply.

They sent another operator up to Big Bear. We practiced deploying the truck on the lot and at the Starbucks up the street.

What? We can do that. A mocha frappuchino goes well with training.



One thing I found out while working with Scott? I don't even remember everything about the truck that I learned. It's very easy to get into a routine. Most of our satellite liveshots follow a pretty basic pattern.

Pop the dish, find the bird, set up the camera, access, dial up IFB, cue the talent, record tags, cool the tubes, pack it away, gas up and go home.

Yeah, it's just that simple. Pretty much.



Granted, there are a few intermediary steps in all that, but I'm sure anyone could pick it up. Heck, I learned it and I suffer from ADOS.

That's Attention Deficit. . .ooh, shiny.



Where was I?

Hey, has anyone ever eaten at Spark? I've never eaten there, but every time I gas up at the Shell station on Ventura just South of Laurel Canyon, I'm drooling over their steak and martini sign.

Mmmmm.

I have no news scheduled for the rest of this week. Scott Mackie is going to fly solo the next time the station needs a satellite shot and I'm back to Aurora training tonight. There's news happening every day, but I'm catching very little of it.

Well, happy Wednesday. I think I'm going to return to my hijacked cubicle tonight.

When I take over the world, I'm delegating someone else to do training. . .oh, and everybody gets a steak and martini.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Work in Progress.

I've spent the better part of the morning trying to write up my Artist's Statement and Bio for the gallery show coming up in May. I'm gonna walk the dog and when I come back I'm going to read whatever comments have come in, make one last revision and send it off to the gallery.

Does anyone have any constructive input?

Artist’s Statement


What would you do, if you could do anything?

Well, fly, read minds and turn invisible of course. After that, I think it’s a very lucky person who might continue to live their life as it is with little or no change.

I’m a Broadcast News Photographer for CBS2 and KCAL9. When I go to work each day, I never really know for sure where I’m going to end up. My assignment could take me just around the corner or I could find myself on a plane on my way to somewhere else in the world. Either way, I get a big kick that my job is always a roll of the dice.

I’ve always loved what I do and consider myself very lucky that I often get to witness events that will be remembered as important parts of history. Having carried a still camera pretty much wherever I go on the job, I’ve gotten the opportunity to photograph moments behind the scenes of many of the stories that have led the newscast. Plus, I’ve also had the opportunity to shoot candid shots of the people in front of and behind the camera who bring you the news of the day. Capturing moments in time, that’s what thrills me and drives me to keep doing what I do.

Sure, there are other ambitions I have in life. Becoming a News Photographer in Los Angeles is just one goal I worked towards and successfully achieved. It’s what I wanted to do and I’m proud of that. If I can always keep finding a moment to snap a still picture during the course of my day, well, I’ll always be content and I guess I don’t need to change a thing.

I think that makes me a lucky person, even if I can’t fly or read minds.*



*Heh-heh, (invisible wicked laughter) maybe I am standing right next to you.


Bio

I’m Bryan Frank. I was born and raised around Los Angeles, California (but “my people” come from Louisiana). I graduated from Junipero Serra High School and the California State University at Long Beach. At CSULB I majored in Radio and Television and minored in English, Creative Writing.

My lovely wife Dellis and I have three children (woo-hoo, they’re all grown up, but don’t get me started talking about our kids) and a dog named Kayla.

News people don’t generally work banker’s hours, so typically by day (and night), I work for CBS News in Los Angeles at the CBS2/KCAL9 duopoly station. By night (or day), I randomly publish a blog called “beFrank” that just shows a little bit of what I experience through the course of my day (sometimes night) at work in news and at home.

You can find my blog by doing an internet search of “beFrank” or at the web address:

http://coolshots.blogspot.com

I shoot mostly with a Canon 20D camera and print using the Canon Pro9500 and i9900 printers. I wrestle with Adobe Photoshop and use a couple of other pieces of image editing software to totally wreck what might have otherwise been nice snapshots.

Should I also mention that I really like beer? In-a-what. . .oh, inappropriate. Fine.

Yup, the beer line is part of it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Save the Date.

I may have mentioned this once or twice, but next month I'm taking part in another gallery exhibit.



I'll be showing a few of my favorite photographs all enlarged and framed (just like real honest to goodness art).



There's a reception in the evening on the 15th of May and another one on June 1st.

Last time we had a great time and this is a perfect opportunity for folks to see if I'm as nice (or evil) a guy as I claim to "be".

FYI - That's my shot of the Vatican in the upper left hand corner. I did that!
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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Can do (and teach).

Sure, it's kind of a weird thing, but I really dig the long hallway in the basement level of the CBS2/KCAL9 TV station. It runs almost the entire length of the building and I have it in mind that I could hold an awesome underground weiner dog race and become like an organized crime Don in the underground weiner dog race world.

Uh-oh, it feels like I'm not getting any support on this.



I guess I really need to stop blogging when I'm half asleep. (It's just so much more difficult to type after I'm fully alseep.)

Hey, look, it's Saturday morning.  Kind of overcast here in Los Angeles and I should be outside tending to my land. I've got a lot of trimming and weeding to do today. Dellis is at a meeting for her job and I'm kind of goofing off because it's been a long week.

Lots of training and lots of driving through traffic.  Yesterday wasn't too bad.  We were short staffed, so I had to hit the streets with a reporter instead of coaching a trainee.



My shift started at 4:30pm and I was on the way to Moorpark College by about 5:13pm. Actually it was exactly 5:13pm, because I looked at my atomic watch (and took a picture of it) just as I left the station.

The story was about the college hosting a LAN party to attract and recruit potential students to its' Computer Studies Department.



Tech Reporter Rich DeMuro met me at the school and we got right to work.  The station wanted a liveshot during the KCAL 8PM newscast.  That means I'd have to work up a little bit of sweat to get the story shot, edited, and the liveshot set up in the time we had available.



I asked one of the party goers if they were competing with anyone over the internet and the guy (he looked like all of 17 years old) started to explain to me about local area networks.  I know what a LAN is.

(sigh)

All I really wanted to know?  Was he competing against someone in the room or in a room somewhere else in the world?  If I ask one thing, that doesn't mean I don't know anything.  (Gall darned young whippersnappers!)



We get the story shot and I set up the truck for our liveshot while the reporter logs the disk and writes the package.  We are crunched for time and we debate whether to cut a VOSOT for the 8PM show.

It all comes down to how fast I can edit.  Can I cut a package in less than thirty minutes?  Keep in mind, I haven't cut anything in weeks.  With all the training, I've barely cut a dozen stories in the past year.

Can I do it?  I don't know.  Maybe.



Heh-heh, probably not the most confidence inspiring response, but I tend to not want to overestimate my ability to work under pressure.

We edited the piece and even managed to get most of the NAT sound into it we wanted.  No jump cuts and no black holes.  As always, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my teaching the edit system hadn't completely rusted out my ability to cut.

I fed the package and dialed up the IFB, then got out to the camera.  Rich took his spot in front of the lens.  We were standing by and feeling as if we had done pretty well for ourselves.  Someone from the station tells us over the IFB our hit time had changed.  We were now later in the show.

Grrr.

What we accomplished in the time we had available wasn't something everyone on staff could have done.  Cutting the piece and not hitting for another twenty-five minutes is pretty typical.  Rich and I both wanted to get that pat on the back and feel like rock stars for getting extra warp speed out of the Enterprise, but most of our photogs and reporters could have done it with that extra time.

I think I've been hanging around too many LAN parties.

Happy weekend.  I'm gonna go get to work on the yard.
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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Maybe it is, maybe it isn't.

"It's not just a job, it's an adventure."

Nope. Sorry, but I'm not feeling it. For today, I'm pretty sure it's just a job.

After having covered Pope Benedict's activity on a major overseas travel assignment, I was looking forward to his visit to the USA.



My bags were packed and my tickets were purchased. I was heading to Washington and New York to cover the Pope's visit to the USA, just as I had flown to Cologne, Germany with Silvia Lopez back in August of 2005.



"POOF" Just like that, the trip evaporated.

If you follow changes in local news, you might have read about the belt tightening my station KCBS/KCAL is experiencing.

More than a few people have lost jobs in the past month and it's very likely the cutting isn't over. In the coming weeks, the technical people (including the news photographers) might be thinned out a bit.



Is it likely that I'd be included in the cuts? I don't know. I doubt it, based on the seniority list, my skill set and my naturally charming personality, but there are absolutely no guarantees.

For all the speculation, nobody really knows what the station is likely going to do and I'd rather not try to guess.



The news business is changing and we should all know that by now. I'm not particularly afraid of change. I think I can keep up, but the stable lifelong career that I stumbled across over a decade ago might not be as "lifelong" as I thought.



Well, as long as I'm here, I have a job to do.

I've experienced the ups and downs of the business. I've seen my station change and early in my L.A. career I held on when I was the most likely candidate for a lay off. Sure, I'm disappointed in not seeing the Pope this week. That's okay, I'm relieved that so far I still have a job. With any luck, I'll still have the job and I'll find opportunities for adventure as they come along.

It's sure to be an interesting ride.

Adventure? Yeah, maybe it is.

By the way, I'm also disappointed in not being able to meet up with my fellow photogbloggers in Las Vegas this week.


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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mick, cut me!

It looks like everything is coming along with all my nefarious plans.

I've been busy the last few days with printing up digital pictures for the gallery show I'm going to participate in coming up in May.

Our tickets are ordered for the L.A. Conservancy "Last Remaining Seats" classic Los Angeles movie house program. If you're a nut for art deco and classic films, this looks like a pretty cool night out.



You might be happy to know construction is continuing on my new world headquarters in Hollywood.

Yeah, I know what the signs say, but ignore them. We're trying not to tip our hand too early.

By the way, I'd appreciate it if you try to keep that whole "new world headquaters" thing to yourself.



I've got another two weeks of edit training scheduled. I'm really starting to feel like Burgess Meredith in the "Rocky" films. It's frustrating, but still very satisfying to have had a hand in getting so many of our photographers up to speed on the system.

The downside?  I'm just not getting my fair share of the news.

Can you help a fellow photog out?  Throw a liveshot or an interview my way.
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Friday, April 11, 2008

So far from Heaven

Samantha Padilla.  If you haven't heard the name, she was the 19 year old woman shot and killed at the Slauson off-ramp of the Northbound 110 Freeway a couple of nights ago.



We covered a candle vigil held for her last night.



There we were. Crowded together on the narrow sidewalk.  Trying to not trip and fall into the path of the cars and trucks coming off of the freeway.

Random thoughts being what they are, there's hardly a murder scene where I don't wonder if the killer might decide to swing by and shoot into the crowd.



It seems as if taking a life is just a casual thing for way too many people.

damn.

Covering these stories, we face the friends and family of victims and you can't help but feel some measure of their pain. We do our jobs, but I know many people working in news become desensitized from witnessing so much emotional suffering.



We heard last night that the police have already made an arrest (or at least picked someone up for questioning).

So much pain and suffering and it's so completely frustrating, because you know there's nothing that's really going to justify taking a life.



Really, I just have no idea what people expect.  I'm glad there are smarter people than me who try to figure out how to make our civilized society continue to work for everyone.  The best I've ever come up with is to try to avoid killing anybody, but that's worked out pretty well for me.

Well, so far at least.

Even if you don't believe in any version of a spiritual afterlife.  If this is it.  If our entire existence is only measured by the time between birth (conception?) and death.  Why shouldn't we aspire to living as if this is heaven?



What?  Too heavy for a Friday?

As I see it, the biggest problem with that whole concept is the fact that getting people like me on board is easy.  That's preaching to the choir.  Somehow I need to sell the idea to people like whoever killed Samantha Padilla.

I guess, all we can do is try.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Ready, Set. . .

. . .GO!

I got all of no time at all to post something about my adventures backstage at the show "The Star's Secret Talent" or whatever they call it.

Probably I should show some respect (I think it's a CBS program) and I'd look it up, but again forgive me, no time.



Former OC Bureau nightsider Tim Kimball was "getting his training on" for the Aurora and we got asked to back up the McLarty crew covering an entertainment story shooting on the soundstage across the driveway from our station.



Ice Skating girl. . .crap. . .I can't remember her name (no time. . .to. . .Google). Was one of the celebs being interviewed backstage.



Now, George Takei I know. Mr. Sulu himself was right there and I got to snap a quick picture of him in his official "Star Trek Western Wear" uniform.



Hey, look! Clint Black is wearing his "Star Trek Western Wear" unif-- No, wait a minute, that's what he always wears.

Gosh, I love it when I'm not only uninformed (about the assignment), but really really not needed for much of anything on a shoot. T. Kimball and I were only there as a safety net if the main crew had to bail before they could grab the backstage interviews.



We broke out of our training session, grabbed our cameras (well, I at least grabbed the sticks) and dashed across the driveway to the soundstage.

We helped as best we could for as long as we could get away with it. Heck, it was time for a break from the training anyway.

Not pictured: The singer that goes by the name, Maya. I walked past her and didn't recognize her in person. The thing is, she had a pretty sexy costume on and I try not to oogle 20somethings when I'm standing around with a still camera.

I've been told that's kind of creepy.

Okay, gotta go to work.

BTW, it's okay to leave a comment. I already know you're out there.
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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

All Our Loss.

Even though I really love what I do for a living (with a passion that burns brighter than a couple of dozen suns, yadda-yadda), I don't think I'd trade my life for a news story.

At least, not the kind of local news story that we normally cover.

What I do for a living isn't always safe. We deal with plenty of natural disasters, politicians, cats, criminals and the general public and you never know when any of them might turn on you.

There are stories that I'd risk my own safety to cover, but on any given day when I'm leaving for work, I generally expect to come home again.



Last Friday I was helping cover the memorial service for Brent Lovrien. He was the fire fighter killed in an explosion back on March 26th.



Man, I've covered a lot of funerals and it's never been easy to speak to the friends and family of the deceased. Their experience and grief isn't going to be the same as mine. The best I can do is offer my condolences.

Even when that seems like an inadequate gesture in the face of overwhelming loss, my experience is that it does offer some comfort.



At this point, it's not what I would call a huge struggle for me to hold it together. Not really, but the emotional impact of the day does give me pause. My own family loss isn't so far in the past that I'm not easily reminded of it.

I see it in the sadness in the faces of the people I encounter. Sorry, but that's what I'm carrying.



If it meant protecting the life of another person, I like to think I'd have the courage to put myself in harms way. I'm lucky (and I'm sure my family is thankful) I don't have to face exactly the type of danger a policeman, soldier, or fireman might face. I'm also lucky that my life isn't so unexciting that I have to imagine myself in scenarios of heroic activity.

He didn't know me. We never met when he was alive. I learned only a small measure of truth about him from the people who spoke during his memorial service. Even if I hadn't heard about what a swell guy he was, because of the career he chose I'd still have a lot of respect for Brent Lovrien. People like him follow a path in life that carries actual risk.

At the end of their day I'm sure they also all expect to come home.

Brent Lovrien was of the people who watch over us, but life goes on and someone will step up to fill the position in the Fire Department he leaves behind. Before we move too quickly forward, not to dwell on it, but for now we should recognize that as a person Brent Lovrien can't be replaced.

There is one less good person in the world and we will always be diminished by our loss.
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Monday, April 07, 2008

Gee, didn't you get my email?

Okay, I know you got the email because I sent it out last Monday and it was marked as "High Priority" and "Absolutely Not Spam".



Dellis had a reception for a gallery showing of her fiber sculptures down in Santa Ana.

Yeah, I know you would have been there, but I'm pretty sure you were on the email list.



My lovely (also patient, understanding and forgiving) wife asked me to do two simple things.  She asked me to help her move a van load of sculptures down to the gallery a couple of weeks ago.

That I did.  I also posted about it.



She also asked me to invite everyone in my address book and I remember typing up the email.

Hmm, come to think of it, seems like I remember some natural and/or family disaster happening last Monday when I was supposed to be emailing stuff.

(sigh)

Okay, I admit I let work and other things pile up and I should have been better at getting the word out about Dellis' reception.

At least the reception was successful and I did everything right  at the reception.



Well, maybe I had trouble with the wine bottle opener, but at least nobody got hurt.

Dellis' work will be at the Assunta Fox Gallery in Santa Ana from now until April 30th. Please, follow the link for directions and gallery exhibit hours.
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