Monday, February 2, 2009

Where Should Photojournalists Draw the Line?

After having the basics of audio gathering pounded through my skull via someone reading off of a handout for the third time in as many semesters I started to get a little upset at first, but then more inquisitive of how my peers perceived this.
And what I'm referring to is the multi-tasking nature of the photojournalist. As the media evolves, so does the photographer. I don't question that thought what so ever. But how much is fair to be expected of a professional photojournalist in terms of what kind of media we're expected to gather?
After my professor explained how some people think it is a good idea to velco strap a mic to your wrist when gathering nat and ambient sound for a multimedia project, I started to get this image of a one man band player. You know, the guys who'd walk around with a bass drum strapped to their back, cymbals between their knees, harmonica on their chest, etc? Are photojournalists going to end up like that?
Without question, multimedia is becoming a staple in the industry and I love its presentation abilities. But I hear people talk about gathering stills, audio, and video is quickly becoming the norm as well. And for the most part, it is talked about as being done completely by one person, or at least one person having the ability to capture all three media. How does a person go about carrying all the gear needed to capture just those three media forms? I mean still camera equipment alone can bog a person down.
But imagine a person carrying two camera bodies, a lens on each camera and another strapped to their person somehow to provide the variety of angle expected out of a photo story, an audio recording device that can range in size from as small as a cell phone to as big as a textbook, a mic for nat and ambient sound, a wireless mic for conducting interviews, and a video camera on top of all of that. What happens when the next big thing comes around and we're stuck carrying another ten pound piece of equipment?
Where do we, as photojournalists, draw the line? Or do we even draw one at all? Is it right to look an editor in the eye and tell them that they're demanding too much and they should fork out the travel expense budget money to send an extra person to assist?
There are technologies out there that will make things easier, such as the Canon 5D Mk II, that can capture still and video and have both be top quality, but for most of us, something like that is out of our price range once the camera and the software to edit the output of that camera are taken into account. (I'd probably have to not only buy the camera and the video editing software, but I'd also have to buy a laptop capable of running the software as I'm not sure my PowerBook G4 has the gas to do it.)
So what do you all think. I really want to hear back on this.

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