Category Archives: photog blogs

Shooter Sites

The importance of a presence…

20141213_094518…on the web, that is.

Lately I’ve been mentoring students and a few newbies to both videojournalism and video production.  Frankly they’re all pretty much rank beginners with the basics and a dream of getting better.  And of course, they all have a website showcasing their work.


The websites are pretty much shotgun, not sharpshooter and well-aimed and focused.  They’re tossing it all out there without filtering.  The good, the bad, and the ugly are all on their sites.





Please spare me.  I don’t want to see it all – that is not only boring and a complete turn-off, but also not good for your odds of impressing a potential employer or client.  Those last two only want to see your best – what makes you stand out above the herd. What makes you the one they want to hire.

So winnow through your work.  Filter it down to your best one or two or at the most three pieces of work.  Label each story (or video) clearly, with information about your role in creating it…as well as whether it was a school project, a volunteer effort, or a paid gig.  Don’t be overly wordy (a sin I commit frequently).  Just a simple caption for each.

And speaking of writing…please remember basic English when writing.  Keep it simple, making sure your grammar and punctuation and spelling are spot-on.

Remember you are striving to work in a visual medium and everything about your site will be judged in an instant and will either attract or repel.  So stuff like color schemes and font choices do matter.  Photos do matter.  Words. Do matter.  Don’t post photos and words that are in conflict.  In other words (you know who you are) don’t say you are a journo and post a duckface and photos that imply you’d rather be in Tinseltown. Do not try to create an image that is not you…be real.  Be who you are…a newbie with dreams.



Keep it simple.

A few more items.  Don’t post your resume or all the world to see.  If asked for your resume, DO include references.  NEVER state that they are “available on request.”  Really?  So you want me to take extra steps to check you out before hiring you?

On that note – do this now, while you’re still in the prof’s mind.  Ask for (1) a recommendation letter based on what they know about you now as a student and (b) permission to use them as a reference for future gigs or employment.  If you wait two or three or more years, you’ll just be another ghostly body in their memories.  Unless you really really stood out (for good or bad reasons).  And choose who you ask to be a reference.  I gladly told all of my students I would recommend them – but they had to carefully consider what I would say about them.  Because I will not lie.  A number of kiddos really did think and back off from asking…they knew exactly how they had behaved and how much work they had done (or not).

In closing.  Have friends, mentors, teachers all check out your site and pick it apart.  Put on your rhino skin suit and take their advice as help, not hate.  While your besties might say it’s all good, they might be lying or just buying into your lies to yourself.  Listen to those who’ve been out in the big bad world and use what they tell you to fine-tune your web site.

So good luck with it and all.  And review and update your site as your skillset and experience improve.


Investigator’s Tip: Find the person behind an unknown email

What if you’re working a story and stumble across some good information in an email, but don’t know who the heck sent it?  Amit Agarwal on the tech site Digital Inspiration has a great primer on how to track down the source.

Google is a logical starting point, but if that turns up nothing, Agarwal has four more suggestions:

1.  Trace the IP address

Open the header of the email message and look for lines that say “Received from” and are followed by an IP address in square brackets. If there are multiple entries, use the IP address mentioned in the last entry.

Now paste the IP address in this trace route tool and you should get a fairly good idea about the approximate location of the email sender.

Email2.  Use Facebook

Just paste the email address of the person into the search box and  Facebook will instantly tell you if a profile exists with that email address or not.

3.  Try Knowem

You can use a service like Knowem to quickly determine if a profile with a particular username exists in any of the social networks.

4.  Plug into people search sites

Try a people search service like Pipl and Spokeo – both services let you perform reverse email lookups, but Agarwall says Spokeo has a more comprehensive database than Pipl.

We love these ideas and would welcome learning about other tricks of the trade, so please share your own tips.


Chicago Video Crew covers a thriller in South Bend for Pac-12

It was a cold, rainy, Saturday morning in the Midwest. A perfect day for college football, and what better match up than the Stanford-Notre Dame rivalry which always lives up to the hype with some of the better finishes in recent memory. I got the call to head to South Bend and cover the game with Pac-12 report Ashley Adamson. We shot a standup before the game at the Notre Dame tailgate with a contingent of Stanford fans who made the long trip to be in attendance for the game. We then fed the footage we shot before the game back to the Pac-12 studios via a Live U pack which uses cell phone service to act as a Satellite truck and beam the footage to the satellites waiting in California. Once the footage was all fed they were able to edit it together with a feature on Stanford’s quarterback and air it before the 3:30 EST kickoff!

Xdcam Stanford Standups pregame postgame Pac12 Notre Dame Network LiveU Football college football  Chicago Video Crew covers a thriller in South Bend for Pac 12 video production services chicago video crew

Ashley and I retired to the warmth of the press box for the game and waited until the game had ended to shoot some post game reaction and interviews. The game came down to the wire as expected and Stanford lost on a heartbreaking play in the final minute of the game as Notre Dame threw a long touchdown pass on third down and long. We caught up with some of the Stanford players to get their take on what happened and shot a stand up on the field afterwards. We sent this footage back to Pac-12 and they aired it on their late-night wrap up show.

Xdcam Stanford Standups pregame postgame Pac12 Notre Dame Network LiveU Football college football  Chicago Video Crew covers a thriller in South Bend for Pac 12 video production services chicago video crew

If you want to catch some of the post game footage I shot you can find it here!

Charleston Crew takes on Vandy with Intersport

vanderbilt UGA intersport Go To Team college football Charleston crew  Charleston Crew takes on Vandy with Intersport video production services charleston crew  Vanderbilt University,  a smaller school in the SEC is preparing to go up against UGA.  That is the story…Shades of David and Goliath.  How can a team prepare for such an overwhelming opponent?  This is the story we told under the watchful guide of Intersport.  Using the Sony F-3, we trained alongside the Commodores, went to their team meetings, listened to their pep talks, and shared their hopes and fears.  Over the course of the week, we shot handheld, we shot on sticks,  we shot with ENG lenses, we shot with DSLR lenses, we brought out our slider, we shot beautiful scenics, we shot raw emotion, physical stress, the preparation of the body, the steeling of the mind.  The week culminated in battle on the UGA field.  The story of the Commodores struggle airs on Saturday, November 15, on CBS “College Football’s Open Season” at 2pm EST.  check it out.  

Using LinkedIn to get that journalism job

LinkedInThere are plenty of reasons for journalists to get on LinkedIn, but its not often mentioned as a place to create a broadcast journalism portfolio — until now.  Yumi Wilson is a manager for corporate communications at LinkedIn, and she also teaches journalism at San Francisco State.  She says the networking site’s relatively new option for embedding videos has made it much more relevant to broadcast journalists.

“As long as you have the link to the video, you can embed it right into your profile,” said Wilson.  You can use URLs from either YouTube or Vimeo.

Of course, you’ll want to use LinkedIn as just one tool in your job hunting toolbox, but Wilson says it can be particularly effective.

“I’m like a lot of people,” says Wilson.  “When I have extra time, I’ll spend it with personal networks like Facebook.  When people are investing time, they’re more likely to use LinkedIn.”

Wilson says there are about 331 million LinkedIn members worldwide, with about 100 million of those here in the United States.

In addition to adding your reel, here are more simple things you can do to improve your chances of getting your portfolio noticed.

  • Be sure to use the name you plan to use in your profession.  So, for example, if your friends call you “Skeeter” but you plan to be “Stuart” on the job, use the latter.  You’ll also want to go into the “Edit Profile” mode and customize your public profile URL.  Mine is, for example, which should make it easier for people to find me.
  • The headline under your name should string key words together to show the job you want, too, not necessarily the job you have.  So, if you are looking for a newscast producing job, put those key words in that headline.
  • Join groups.  Something like LinkedIn for Journalists can help you in several ways.  You may find some great advice in the posts, but you can also send InMail to other members for free.  Plus, Wilson says that people who post in groups have their content viewed four times more often than those who don’t.
  • Be sure to include your photo and make it professional.  For the most part, it should be a head and shoulders shot with you dressed in the attire you’ll wear on the job.  Wilson says profiles with photos get 14 times the views of those that don’t.
  • Write your summary in first person says Wilson, and make sure it is at least 40 words long.  Wilson says people want to know who you are and first person narratives make that easier.
  • Give people multiple ways to contact you.  Since InMail isn’t always free, you’ll want to give prospective employers other ways to reach you.  Add your Twitter name or an email address for an account you check often.

Wilson says that 90 percent of recruiters use social media and they will typically use key word searches, so make sure your profile is loaded with the words people will use when looking for the position you want to have.  And be sure to keep your profile updated.

“Posting about a job change will increase your views by 12 times,” said Wilson.



My apologies to my minimal audience for the neglect of this blog.

In-between sandblasting live trucks onto pilsner glasses due to the upcoming holiday to managing the technical side of the TV News Storyteller’s website, regrettably I just haven’t had time of late to compile old stories to post ‘em here.

(Though for those who are into photos of old news crews and vintage gear from days long since gone, I do post images from my collection onto my personal facebook page quite often…)


Chicago Video Crew rocks out in Cleveland for Fox Sports

With football season in full swing, I’ve been getting some great opportunities to shoot some cool interviews with NFL players from all over. This time I had to make the trek to Cleveland, Ohio for Fox Sports to interview Brian Hoyer the quarterback for the Browns. I arrived at the Browns training facility near the Cleveland airport and met up with the DP Matt who also works out of Chicago. Together we set to work lighting a two-camera sit-down inside the field house.

nfl interview HMI fox sports Football F55 F3 Cleveland Chicago Browns  Chicago Video Crew rocks out in Cleveland for Fox Sports chicago video crew

Since it was such a large space we chose to light using silks and several HMIs. We keyed with a 400 Joker hitting an 8×8 frame silk. We used a reflector on a smaller frame to bounce the key back as our fill light. In the background I hit the field and the far wall with my two 400 HMIs, while Matt used a huge 1600 Joker to spot the midfield logo. Since we used HMIs to light both the subjects and the background we were able to match the shots pretty well and get a very natural feel. The big lights also helped light up a very large, dark space. I shot on the F3 and Matt on the F55 and we both used nice cinema prime lenses.

nfl interview HMI fox sports Football F55 F3 Cleveland Chicago Browns  Chicago Video Crew rocks out in Cleveland for Fox Sports chicago video crew nfl interview HMI fox sports Football F55 F3 Cleveland Chicago Browns  Chicago Video Crew rocks out in Cleveland for Fox Sports chicago video crew

We got about 30 minutes with Brian Hoyer and then we wrapped up and headed to a nearby TV station to feed the footage back to Fox. Talk about a quick turn around, the interview we shot was slated to air that same night! In the end all went well and you can see the results of our efforts here: