Slipped up, because I'm not a photographer. I'm a reporter.
I could count on one hand (if I had six fingers on that hand) the number of stories I've shot in the past 20 years.
And I photographed my entry with a $250 point-and-shoot still camera.
WHEN I GOT my first TV job in Colorado Springs, CO, I didn't know television. Because I didn't own one. So I bought a 12-inch B&W pawn shop special.
And I learned how to be a TV reporter…from photographers.
They taught me how to edit. How to write to picture.
And occasionally at the end of a shoot, I’d ask to pick up the camera and try rolling off a few shots on my own. Just for kicks.
This proved helpful one Sunday morning when the weekend photographer, having celebrated a little too much the night before, failed to show up for work to cover the big story of the day, the Shriners parade. I grabbed abn RCA TK-76, "go" cable and ¾ inch deck and ran after a bunch of middle-aged men with little cars and funny hats.
I left the market with a crappy television and that sense of interconnectedness words and picture. I had the idea that a photographer should be a reporter with a light kit and that a reporter should have maybe not a photographer’s camera, but his eye. And that both should know how to fit all the pieces together.
That's why at my next television station I was surprised when I sat down in an edit bay and the photographers looked as if I’d just shot Bambi’s mother. It wasn’t a union shop, it was just something that reporters didn't do.
I didn’t dare even think about touching a camera.
But I continued to edit.
In my head.
And I continued to shoot.
Without ever rolling tape.
LATE IN 2007 half the photography staff at my present employer was across the state covering a mine disaster. What was a feature reporter to do?
I drove home and rounded up an ENG package: a Canon Powershot A-610 still camera (that shoots video) and a cheap digital audio recorder.
And I shot a story about cheap plastic cameras with a cheap digital camera.
I MacGyvered it.
For a time lapse shot, I used a cable release bracket fabricated from a Home Depot wood construction connector.
I created a filter holder with duct tape and a toilet paper tube.
My soft box was made of foam core.
And for a macro trucking shot I borrowed my two year old’s wooden blocks.
The result earned awards.
And gave me a good laugh.
I don't call myself a photographer.
I couldn't follow focus to save Bambi's mother's life.
But understanding light helps me figure out where to conduct an interview.
Knowing how to sequence helps me craft a script.
Give a reporter a few pointers about shooting and editing and he might even win an NPPA photography award. With a cheap point-and-shoot camera.
Or he might just become a better reporter.
Rosen also won this year’s NPPA Best of Photography Special Award for Reporting and two television editing category awards.