When Photographers Go To Video

David Hume Kennerly

In 1990, on the heels of NY1, I was approached by a Wall Street guy who suggested that I should raise some money and start my own company based on the VJ concept.

He took me to see Nick Nicholas, who was then Chairman and CEO of Time/Life, and upon hearing the concept, Nicholas reached into his desk, withdrew his personal checkbook and wrote out a check for $100,000 to found what would become VNI.

It was a moment I will never forget.

Nicholas then introduced me to David Hume Kennerly, a Time/Life photographer. “Photojournalists”, Nicholas said, “will become the backbone of this new VJ movement”. He was right.

Kennerly had a fantastic eye, and although he had never shot a frame of video before, he and I headed off to Cambodia, where he shot a piece for Nightline, under my instruction. It was the first VJ ‘bootcamp’, to to speak.

Kennerly introduced me to Dirck Halstead, and then Halstead to PF Bentley, Bill Gentile, Susan Meiseles and many other photographers after that. Halstead of course went on to found The Digital Journalist and Platypus, and PF shot many, many TV pieces after that. Gentile and Meiseles both won national Emmys for their video work with me at NY Times TV.

A few months ago, Jeff Jarvis took me to visit the Newark Star Ledger. They had also begun to move into video, and they had done so empowered by their photography staff shooting video pieces and both posting them on their website and packaging them as a pilot for a possible TV or web series.

The quality of the video work done by the Star Ledger staff immediately convinced me that the talent to move local newsgathering in video forward, yet maintain the quality of the print paper, was already on staff at the Star Ledger. Any good photog can pick up a video camera and bring back reasonable images. But a great photojournalist can translate their skill of capturing compelling images with an editorial bent that tell a story, and move that to video. Compound that with great writing and story structure and you really have something. The Star Ledger already really had something.

You can see the kind of work they are doing here.

Now, we’re going to take that initiative and translate it across the newsroom.

Dirck, are you reading this?

Time for you to come back to Newark, soon!


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