Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Think You're a Photog? iThink Not.

This particular rant will probably resonate with many of my peers and readers.  It will also likely alienate a large occult group known as "Apple Users".

I'll skip my usual long winded intro of the subject at hand, and just cut right to the chase:  It makes my skin crawl when I see someone shooting video that is intended for broadcast, on an iPad.  And I'm willing to bet I'm not alone.

Source: icn.com

Don't get me wrong, the prized brain child of the late Steve Jobs is a revolutionary device that has changed the way people do literally everything. But it is not, nor will it ever be, a suitable replacement for a tv news camera.

In this day and age of the "one man band", a reporter who shoots their own video, the art of visual story telling is already quickly fading.

Toss an overpriced, consumer grade tablet computer into the mix and what you have is a recipe for horrible television.

In an era when just about anyone can get credentialed as "media", the phenomenon of iPad photographers is a growing plight.  Hell, even CNN laid off 50 photojournalists late last year in exchange for its new "iReporter" feature available on their website.  It makes business sense, why pay someone to do a job that others will do for free?

But I'm not a business man.  I'm a camera man, and I'm sorry, but if you buy into that philosophy then you're just sacrificing quality for quantity. 

I had two encounters this past weekend with these types of "videographers".

The first occurred on Saturday as I was given the highly coveted assignment of a ribbon cutting.  This fella with the tropical attire asked me "is this where all the professionals are supposed to stand?"

He then busted out his trusty tablet and began spraying video.  In what could only be an effort to further ignite my disdain, he asked me "so uh, how much b-roll do you think is enough? I'm new at this whole thing."  What? There's no app for that?  You've got to ask a real photog?

The second occurrence that left me (and about 30 other members of the media) fuming was when this particular "photographer" entered the scrum.

We were 3 tiers deep on the risers at the Mitt Romney rally in Mooresville and it was already in full swing.  This guy comes bouncing up the stairs and walks right in front of the lenses of about 5 cameras, including yours truly.

I ignored it at first, as it wasn't an essential frame of video he'd interrupted.  But when he did it again as ol' Mitt was taking the stage, I piped up and gave him a crash course in scrum etiquette.

Suffice it to say that this joke of a journalist promptly began ducking down as he passed in front of the big boy cameras in order to get a better angle for his 20 second video clips that I'm sure are lost somewhere on Youtube by now.

Further abuse of the airwaves can be found here, as a Texas reporter actually shot an entire package on an iPad and opens it with an out of focus stand up apologizing for using the tablet to make tv, but then goes on to call himself an "innovator".  Nope, you're not. You're just a reporter without a photographer.  End of story.

Perhaps the most intelligent use of an iPad for television purposes can be found here as a story is shot using Panasonic's P2 technology (my preferred!) by the reporter's photographer, as she shoots the exact same story here using her iPad.  The entire process actually worked for me as it illustrates that the iPad is actually the inferior technology.

Now, let me be very clear.  I don't hate Steve Jobs.  I don't hate Apple.  I don't hate you if you like Steve Jobs or Apple.  I believe he was a true pioneer of technology and that the iPad is an amazing little gadget.  But that's what it is.  It's a gadget.  A tablet computer.  It's not an instrument with which one should never consider gathering news on.  It's not a TV camera and wielding one around a group of actual photgraphers, won't make you any friends.

Now please excuse me, I've got to wrap this up. I think I have about 9 updates waiting for download on my iPhone.