Monday, March 30, 2009

I'm Not The Boogeyman

I'm not here to bite you.

I'm a guy....who happens to be holding a camera.

Believe it or not but most of the time what I'm filming is usually beneficial for the subjects involved. Sure, if you're on trial or a politician you may not want to see me, but when I'm sent out on a warm Sunday afternoon to get some warm weather video and I end up at a public golf course in Northeast Baltimore I'm not there to do some expose about golf course embezzlement or stalk someone on the back nine. I'm there to get video of people enjoying the warm weather and just playing golf. Seriously!

So when the local course rep rides his golf cart up to me in a haste asking for authorization and permission from them to film on a PUBLIC course, it gets a little frustrating.

I deal with a lot of red tape bullshit when I film places. (Malls are the worst) I've come to expect it from certain places. But not a golf course off of St. Lo drive. Come on! Just let me get 5 shots of people teeing off and if they don't want to be filmed, they'll tell me, and I won't! If anything I'm giving FREE press to an outdoor activity that benefits the city. Don't you think I'd have an open invitation?

I'm not here to steal children.

I'm a guy with a camera.

Current Jam: J Roddy Walston and The Business - "I'm Goin Out"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"That's the thing about this job. Its got nothing to do with life."

I'm a huge fan of David Simon.  Loved The Wire.  Read his book "Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets."  And now I'm getting into the old Homicide TV show.  WGN airs it a 3am or something crazy on Sundays so thank you dvr. I'm a bit of a sucker for recognizing places in movies or tv shows.  I like that I've been to Fells Point enough to get exactly where the characters are and where they filmed certain scenes.  

Thinking about it, there is a reason so many films and tv shows have been filmed in Baltimore.  It has EVERYTHING you need for good drama.  The richest folks in Roland Park living a mile away from some of the poorest in Waverly.  The beauty of the water and the uniqueness of a block of rowhomes.

One of the lines David Simon writes about in Homicide is an old adage that "If you can't live in Baltimore you can't live anywhere."  And its true.  Every neighborhood is different.  We got something for everyone. :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stones and Circus'

I was able to shoot a preview of the Cirque de Soleil event that is down at M&T Bank Stadium.  Really amazing.  I've never seen any Cirque but I can see why it's so popular.  One of those times the saying "fun for the whole family" may actually apply.  

The circus was towards the end of my  work day yesterday.  The beginning was filled with rocks thrown at me my camera by 12 year olds.  

I had to go do a liveshot from Lemell Middle School.  Which is one of the schools that may be closed to shorten a city school budget gap.  

I drive down to the school, and set up on the other side of the street from the school.  As I'm pulling cable, setting up a light, I hear something whizz by my head.  I look up to see these kids shouting obscenities at me, flipping me off, and throwing rocks at me.  

Now I did nothing to them.  Didn't say anything, didn't provoke them in any way.  And just my presence was enough to set these kids, and they were kids, to throwing things at me.  Well I called the cops.  Not for fear of my own safety, but if one of those kids got a really good toss in, They could crack the lens of my camera.  

The police got there in great time, and were able to hang out long enough for my reporter and I to get our shot off and out of there.  

A kid was killed outside this school last November.  Maybe the kids got their fill of the media after that event and were still frustrated.  I dunno.  I'll never know why they did it.  Just chalk it up to another "only in Baltimore" moment.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Driving home from work..

E. Fayette and N. Wolfe.  

Guy sitting on a bench looks my way.  I look back.  

He raises his arm.  Gives me a playful salute and a wide grin.  

I drive home with a smile on my face too.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


The world revolves around it.

We dictate our ages by it.

News is dominated by it.

Gotta start on time.  Gotta get out on time.  Gotta keep the package a certain time.  Gotta get to the presser at the right time.  (The Governor and the Mayor are always 15-20mins late though.)

I can't be late.  I hate being late.  It's a fear that I'm sure my mother instilled in me at a young age.  So I think I fit the timing world of news fairly well.  What becomes an issue is when I work with someone who doesn't have the same concept of time as myself.  

If I had it my way we would have non-linear editing equipment in all the news vans and we would never have to come back to the station to put a story together.  Keeping people in the field keeps them away from distractions that could delay, and potentially put in danger, the quality of the product placed on the air.

I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have been rushed, or someone else has had to finish the edit of a story, due to lack of time.  

Maybe I'm just being to stressful....another wonderful genetic gift that I'm sure is leading to the ever growing size of my forehead.  But I would rather be stressed and get a story done than be lackadaisical and rushed.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2009




News has an almost military like interest in shorthand phrases.  Sure it makes information easier and more quickly conveyed.  It also leads to a club.  A group of people that know what those terms mean.  A group that would scoff at someone who did not.

I was a film major at Towson.  When I started as an editor I had no clue what a VOSOT was.  A guy looked at me funny when I asked.

LCTR - Locator.  These are fun.  This is when something horrible happens to someone in Baltimore when we aren't working.  We have to go back to the scene and film where it happened.  Without police.  With pissed off neighbors. 

VOSOT - Voice Over/Sound on Tape.  The term for a shorter story read by the news anchor and not a reporter.  Photographers are usually sent solo to pick these stories up.  Shooting some video of the scene and  then one quick interview with someone from the location.

PKG - Package. A standard news story with a two person team of a photographer and reporter. Usually shot, written, and aired in a single day.  (I got a t-shirt from a friend that said "My Package is so famous it's in the news."  Big hit at work parties.)

NATPKG - Natural Sound Package.  The story that shooters make to show off their skills.  A story told through the people without any reporter track. Really hard to do but amazing when done right.

OPACY - Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  Honestly this took me forever to figure out

BATCO - Baltimore County.  BATCO also gets the unique title of being 'the county' Anytime something is "Out in the County" they're referring to Baltimore County.  Sorry Howard County.  You suck.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


At 8:15pm I had a great story.

At 8:20pm It was gone.

The doctor had called.....

4 Hours Earlier:

Getting into work today the initial plan was to do a winter weather storm piece.  Seeing how it wasn't snowing and wouldn't be snowing for another 24 hours that plan was scrapped and we moved to the story of a fund raiser for the Roland Park Fire House, the oldest in the city.  The story started well with my reporter and I visiting the firehouse and hearing about all the repairs that needed to be made and then moved to the event hall two blocks away where the community was holding a chili cookoff in an attempt to raise money for the firehouse.  Now there's one way into all photographer's hearts and that is through their stomach.  Needless to say free delicious chili made the day go very well.

Upon leaving the event we get a frantic call from our frizzled assignment desk worker saying that WBAL had gotten an interview with the doctor from Baltimore who is charged in an assisted suicide case in Georgia.  We were instructed to try to go to this guys house in Hampden and try to get some sound as well.  

Well, surprise surprise the good doctor was not home.  We left a message and went back to the firehouse story.  

We probably aren't back for more than 10 minutes before the scanners blare:

*Truck 2, Engine 44, Battalion Chief 2 respond.  3200 block of Beeche Ave. for the report of a building fire.  Operations on Charlie 1*

I'm back out the door.  

The fire is right around the corner off of Keswick in that inbetween Hampden-Remington area. 

Great Stuff.

Smoke still billowing out when I get there.  Plenty of onlookers to just run up to and interview.  Hampden always gives the best sound.  

Well who do I see respond to this fire but none other than the crew from the Roland Park firehouse.  The same ones that a fundraiser was held for earlier today.   Visions of awards immediately start dancing through my head.  What a great day-turn this will be.  Not only do we have the benefit for the firefighters but we also have them in action.  Helping the community.  Showing what this fundraiser was all about.  To keep this unit local and to allow them to continue to serve the public.  Its great.  It seems like a winner.  I'm pumped.  

The doctor calls.

Mr. Suicide can now talk.  

Management strips the story.

We're moved. 

There is something very frustrating about having something you care about taken from you without your control.  By the idea of a more important story.  By lack of staffing to send another crew to pick it up.  Instead of having a great story about the economy, the community, and all the intangibles we're on a Dr. Kevorkian wannabe.  At 8:20pm.  The news starts at 10.

The station sacrificed a winner for a vosot.  (Voice over/Sound on Tape.  Not a full story)  I think Dr. Suicide was a meaningful and interesting story.  I'm frustrated that mine was taken from me.  Both of which could have made air if we had one more nightside shooter tonight.  

That's too easy though.