Shoot Yourself

Shooting video never has, and never will, be my favorite part of journalism. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have to do it. Increasingly, reporters are required to not only tell a story through their words, but through the lenses of their cameras and video cameras as well. While I have had the basic Digital Media Convergence class covering the basics of actually working the camera, this session (seemingly aptly named after how I feel sometimes while trying to shoot video) covered ways to actually tell a story with the camera.

According to speaker Ralph Brassett, there are only four shots through which to shoot a news story:

  • Wide/establishing: adds context to the story and a sense of where the story is taking place; every story needs one
  • Medium: adding some detail
  • Close-up: shows reactions and emotions; adds a sense of being there
  • Extreme close-up: minute action

While I have shot and edited video, I have never shot an actual news video, which is one of my goals to accomplish before the end of this semester. I had never really put much thought into the detail and context that can be added through the use of a camera. I will always consider words as some of the most powerful tools I have as a journalist, but a video can always add that extra touch of emotion that words may never be able to express. Whether it’s disgusted look, conceited sneer or weeping eye, the camera can add so much to the story, when used correctly.

As a news writer, I am always removed from the  story and focus rather on the actions and words of the subjects – being removed from the story is as just as important when you’re behind the video camera, Brassett said. The audience doesn’t care about the reporter standing in front of the camera reporting on what’s going on – if they wanted the reporter’s words, they’d read them. They want to see the action, that’s what the camera is meant to be for. Brassett also encouraged us to find unique perspectives and angles to shoot from, rather than the standard eye level shot, which is typical for most news stories.

After all the practical advice he gave, I am so excited to get back to Elon and start shooting video….I never thought those words would come out of my mouth! While for now, I will most likely continue to practice shooting and editing with a flipcam before I have enough courage to work with the big cameras, I know each of my stories will now be supplemented in whole new ways. Though we have a multimedia team shooting excellent video for us each and every week, that doesn’t mean the senior reporters and myself, as an editor, shouldn’t be finding creative ways to illustrate our stories as well each week. If we’re going to be fully prepared for the professional realm of journalism after graduation, it’s something we all need to master!

-Caitlin O’Donnell


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