I first met John Lehmann in Vancouver, Canada after he invited me to speak about multimedia at last year’s Western Canadian Photojournalism Conference. Lehmann works for the Globe and Mail newspaper and is the consummate photojournalist. A sharp eye for visuals and a keen sense of story, Lehmann ranks up there with the best shooters in Canada. When I showed my video work to the gathered hoard of Canadian photojournalists, the new world of multimedia was still pretty foreign to most in attendance. My talk was well received. I know this because I never bought another beer while I was across the border.
Flash forward three months later and Lehmann was visiting my town of Spokane, Wash. to shoot a story on the oldest living Canadian World War I veteran. That month he had received a 1st place in the NPPA Monthly Multimedia Contest with an incredible video documentary on conjoined twin babies. The meat of his video was shot mostly in stunning stills. His video and editing skills were still in their infancy.
After his Spokane shoot, Lehmann spent a day hanging out in my video-editing cave at The Spokesman-Review. He asked a lot of questions about how video is sequenced. I showed him my Loose Moose video and told him how I edited it. He was still having a hard time grasping what I did. “Show me your raw video,” said Lehmann. After viewing the 30-minute tape and then replaying the 2 minute edited story he just smiled. “I get it now, he said.
Flash-forward again to last months 1st place win in the NPPA Monthly Multimedia Contest. His video, Flowers for Food, is a wonderful story that connects to the viewer emotionally. I was amazed at how far Lehmann had come in his video production and editing abilities. The depth of his storytelling and the thoughtful editing are truly inspiring. Now I see two more strong videos he’s produced in the last few months—this guy is on a roll. Check out his story on nude bowling (a hoot) and this somber Katrina aftermath story.
The one thing I noticed about John is that he treats his video camera like he does his still camera. Lehman’s videos should be a reminder to all of us still shooters making the transition to new media–not to forget our visual roots. Many first time video shooters are overwhelmed by all the distractions. Remembering to monitor your audio (yes with headphones), to sequencing your video (wide, medium, tight) and to keep the bloody tripod out of your shots (try using it). My advice: Take a breath when you are shooting a story and remind yourself to be creative. Thanks John for reminding me think and see like a still shooter again.