Videojournalist PF Bentley and Gulfstream during Drew Carey’s Sporting World shoot in Germany. (Gulftream is not Bentley’s).
There is a red herring swimming about claiming that VJ is a code term for 23 year olds with no experience and small cameras.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Meet PF Bentley.
White House photojournalist for Time Magazine for more than 20 years. A string of photo books to his credit and access to some of the most powerful people in the world. Bently has been there in the Oval Office alone with Presidents. He walks the halls of Congress like a United States Senator, and is on a first name basis with most of them.
In 1992, Bentley was one of the first people to take my VJ bootcamp and transit from photojournalist to video journalist.
He brought with him his extraordinary eye, and a way of working that was very different from traditional television cameramen.. or reporters. Camera crews are disruptive. They dominate the room. They set up the lights. They tell you to sit here.. or here.
Bentley’s trade is different. He is like a cat. He prowls the room. He is unobtrusive. He is always there but works quietly. That’s how he gets such great access, and intimacy. That’s why he is trusted by everyone in power. That is why he is on a first name basis with every President since Carter. Walk the corridors of power with him and the great run up to shake his hand. But look at his work, and understand how he has married video and still.
There is a great deal of discussion these days as newspaper still photographers begin to move into video. They try and ‘ape’ their television cameramen counterparts, albeit with smaller gear… smaller tripods. Smaller light kits. They make a mistake. There is a unique opportunity here to invent a new video grammar – the one that made photojournalism so powerful in the first place.
All the former great institutions of photojournalism have fallen by the wayside, but now the web presents a whole new marketplace for talent. Bentley is one of those who has made a successful transition. In the shot at the top of this story, you can see him on the road as we (he) shot Drew Carey’s Sporting World, a series we did for Discovery, (and also turned in 6 days – see below). Bentley brought to it the same eye and the same discipline that he brough to a lifetime of work for Time.
You could do worse than to follow his lead.
ps. all photos by PF Bentley, (except the first, I did that one).