Electronic journalism is purely a team work. The driver who takes us to the assignment, the maid who cleans the office dust and protects the computers from virus, I feel, contribute in their own way to our stories. In the team chain, coordination between reporter and cameraman is absolute necessary to carve a wonderful story. In my experience many a times I felt a pinch just because I didn’t bother to look upon the cameraman.
When I moved from print media to electronic few years ago, heading a group of four people (including driver and camera assistant) was little uncomfortable for me. I had to take into confidence all the three – the cameraman, the assistant and the driver to make story. And this was highly irritating experience as there used to be communication and ego problems between the three. When the camera assistant post was scrapped and they were made as junior cameramen, though some of my colleagues were uncomfortable, I was the happiest reporter for this management decision, as my problem was solved automatically to some extent.
But there was no change in the actual problem.
My relationship with the camera persons in the initial days included quite a lot bitter experiences. On one hand there was a sudden change of my profession to electronic pattern of journalism from print and on the other, the camera team was skeptical about me as I was a cub scribe. Both the things were hindrances to develop a good rapport with the camera unit. And without developing a smooth relationship with cameraman, it was practically difficult to evolve a good story. Half of my brain cells used to die, thinking of which cameraman I’m going to get today on field, how to communicate well if I get a cameraman who is not of my choice, what if I get “Mr. Ego Raja” (the nickname I gave to particular cameraman who was too egoistic or I thought him to be) and so on and so forth. All these problems were reflected in the stories I did.
But soon I realized that though the professional skills of the cameramen were different, one thing was common among them. And it was that almost all of them were ‘Good’ people. I had to just tune them according to my professional needs. For this I made some rules to be followed by myself and started behaving in accordance with the rules. (After all, I was dealing with human brains).
Greet first, work next or Haalchaal poochhana……….
Whenever I saw a cameraman in the office campus, my reflex action was “Hi, how are you?” Before going for an assignment, I wished the cameraman and then boarded the vehicle. This was just an ice-breaking.
Rule No. 2
Brief about the assignment or Usko Bhi Batade…………..
I found in the due course that one of the major reasons that the cameramen were getting irritated and annoyed was that they were not being briefed by the reporter about the assignment. My first action after boarding the vehicle was to communicate in detail to cameraman about assignment, the shots he needs to take, the things he needs to be cautious etc. Some cameramen were even interested in having a glance at the press invitation card or letter. And this act of mine yielded positive results.
Rule No. 3
Never try to ride or Daadaagiri………………
Cameramen and reporters should be complimentary and not contradictory to each other. In number of cases I experienced that the negative egos of both cameramen and reporter lead to disputes. So, I decided o be polite and humble. I never tried to do bossing over the lens men and this proved to be a success. The things which never happened with command were fixed by request. Some of the cameramen who initially didn’t bend to Gaandhigiri, couldn’t continue with their attitude and soon became followers of Mahatma Gandhi!!
Rule No. 4
Communication or Chal, Bol De Yaar……………………..
Most of the problems between reporters and cameramen used to take place due to poor communication from both sides. Calling the name in singular, unintended or intended voice modulation, behavior and body language in the field – each was counted. To solve this problem I made some changes in my way of speaking. I never said, “Take that shot”. But said, “I need that shot.” There was lot of difference between both the sentences. Introducing my cameramen to the source, was one more gesture that made the cameramen to involve themselves in the story.
Rule No. -5
Duniya Jhukti Hai Lekin Jhukanevala Chahiye……………………….
“Sir, the light is a dull. Shooting is not possible”. “This pan is impossible.” “That tilt down is not permitted”. “The politician left before I could adjust my camera. So, I missed the visuals”. These were some of the common statements I used to receive from few cameramen, which drove me crazy. I used to feel that the cameraman is saying this purposefully just to cover his inability to shoot. In some of the cases my belief was to be true and in some it wasn’t. It was practically difficult for me to judge whether the cameramen are lying or not. To check this I had to willingly or unwillingly know the basics of camera. And knowing basic camera operations didn’t take much time. This helped not only to understand the situation of cameramen but also to make prior arrangements for shooting, taking bites and plan my story ideas accordingly. (I have seen incidents where reporters have taken PTCs under scorching sun at 12 noon when there was opportunity to take the same at 7 am). I could also understand the limitations and advantages of the camera.
All these rules are neither great ‘IdEas’, nor difficult to follow. But they proved to be the best. Soon I became the blue eyed boy for camera section. You may give a try to these Choti Batain……