The Cameraman Speaks

The quandry for professional cameramen – Jim Long contemplates the future

Alex Lucas was a VJ that I trained in Nashville at WKRN.

He was a cameraman making the transition to VJ.

He was very good at it.

About 8 months after starting to work as a VJ, he took an offer to return to full-time cameraman work at the competitor across the street.

Yesterday, he posted on

I think his posting makes very interesting reading.

Now this is a conversation that I can get into!

The two biggies, Rosenblum and Gianotti, arguing the truth as they see it. Me? I’m sitting in the middle, looking at both of them. They’re both my fathers in my industry, in a way. And look at that, we’re the only three people on that use our own names, and don’t hide! Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Nino represents the traditional photographer, diligent, hardworking, and classically trained. Well paid. Chiaroscuro. Rembrandt lighting. Tons of gear. Tons of time. Tons of quality. What represents my old career, and what I currently work on 40 hours a week. My current job at a NPPA shop that does outstanding work. That’s the Nino side.

Then there’s Rosenblum. The one that many would say, “ruined my career.” Forced me back into traditional ENG with the ‘failure’ of the VJ system. But if it was such a failure, why would I spend thousands of my own money, when I have a newborn, and all of my free time pouring through FCP and shooting with all of my extra free time on a Canon HDV camera? Truth is, he opened my eyes to the other possibilities to other ENG style work. I am still working out the bugs. Still, for a poor kid from rural Indiana, it was an epiphany, and a side that many don’t see. The Rosenblum side works all night on FCP and dreams about doing something awesome for a buck fifty.

Honestly? I don’t know where to start about this whole thing. All I know, is that I sit firmly in the middle of it all. I see newspaper photographers with an incredible curiosity towards video, for the first time. Some of the good NPPA and pulitzer still photography winners have talked to me about the new transition. Some have asked me to train them. I understand why. I’ve seen their work, and I say, “man, I wish I could teach them a thing or two.” Video, at least on the low level, is coming out. How far? Who knows.

I’ve been Rosenblum trained.
I’ve been mentored by old classicals like Nino (Leonard Judd, Vietnam combat photographer, a wizard, a classic journalist, still miss him, taught me the framework for everything).
They both have a venerable, and interesting viewpoint on it all.
I lost jobs over both. Lost tenure. Lost money.
I grind away at overnights. Still, it’s overnights at the best place (in my humble opinion) in a five state region. So really, it’s a transition. Not a loss. I work with the best in both worlds.

I see VJs in my market. I see newspaper photogs with small video cameras. I see my station, the tough, intellectually strident one, never look at VJ cameras, and wait for an incredible HD camera that makes them happy at a real price point.

Something is changing.
I really do believe that both are right.
The market is layering. Heavily.
There is a rush to the most amazing high-end cameras.
There is a rush to the most incredible cheap cameras.

As a guy that suffered the slings and arrows of both camps, and barely survived, I can honestly say, both of them are right. It’s as though the only ones that really need to be worried, well, is Hollywood. Both high and low markets are being expanded. They’re both swelling to meet demand.

(By the way, Nino, if you would like to train me for a week, like Rosenblum did, I would love to burn some vacation on that. LOL! I’ve got some killer dinner recipes, although I will always defer to the Italians for cinema and cooking skills.)

This is a long way from being settled, gentlemen.
I just say the whole video thing is exploding, and it’s moving faster than it ever did before, with consumption of video at an all time high.


One response to “The Cameraman Speaks

  1. Both. Yes, both.

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