OK, it is time to move on…
I survived the last round of layoffs, but I will have to leave behind my grand vision and fancy job title—at least for now. I have been reassigned back to The Spokesman-Review photo department as a staff photographer. That department took a torpedo hit with two super-talented shooters being shown the door.
It’s time to get back to my roots. I was a still shooter for 18 years, so the transition will be fine. I am a bit rusty on the shutter, but I will get my rhythm back. But what of all the video and multimedia that was beginning to be unleashed at the S-R? Well, seven of the 12 people I trained to shoot and edit are gone now. The reality is three people, myself and staff photographers Dan Pelle, and Jesse Tinsley will pick up the video slack. Heaven knows there is enough gear to fill a camera store lining the supply closet shelves.
Ahh…the supply closet–my new workspace. I took one of the empty desks in the photo dept, but I haven’t spent much time there. I swear I must have some caveman gene in me, because I seem most comfortable in dark cramped spaces. Go figure. It is actually a decent space–twice the size of my last office—and I can’t complain about the lack of shelves now.
So what happen now? I am still a little fuzzy on what my newspaper wants from me other than to shoot great still photos and produce occasional videos. My new editor-in-chief has defined my job as being 60 percent shooting stills and 40 percent doing video. We’ll see how that translates in the real world of an increased still workload.
Recently, there has been a lot of talk in multimedia circles about what the true value video holds for newspapers. Questions have been raised about whether or not we are just wasting our time leaning a new craft that seems to take more resources then it gives back in hits (see Mindy McAdams excellent post.)
I believe video is still a young medium for newspapers. We have to give the people learning to shoot and edit time to master the craft. The frustrating thing for me is that I had all the parts in place. (Great) tools, ongoing training, talented motivated staff and a brand spankin’ new multimedia centric website that was ready to launch the day before the layoff announcement. I am disheartened by what happened, but somehow I think the pendulum will swing back eventually. There is this little thing called the mobile web that is about to unleash the video gods in ways we can only imagine. On the other end the spectrum is the delivery of high-def web video to the masses. I will quietly do my duty as a still shooter, but I will find ways to work at being a better video storyteller. My new Sony XDCAM EX-1 is staring at me from the supply closet shelve. That bad boy ain’t going to be collecting dust for long.