What I Know Now...


Well-known member
Oooo...new forum category. Exciting!
Thought I'd start it out with a question for those of us that have been around for a while:

What's the one thing you'd tell a new photog that you wish you knew when you were starting out?

For me it's this...winning awards is nice, but being the guy that everyone likes to work with is better. Not saying that you can't be both, just that the second is more important than the first.


Well-known member
Since I work at NY1, I'm around new shooters all the time. One thing I try to tell all of them is to understand that their job is very different than the jobs that other people in their lives might have. The bad days can be absolutely horrible, and the good days can be a blast. TV field work is a job of extremes. So I try to emphasize that they should remember that for every terrible, awful 16-hour day they have in sub-zero temperatures, there is another day where they'll be shooting weather VO in a park in the 70-degree sun.

Latin Lens

Well-known member
You have to love this job to really excell at it....you have to put in the work to get the results...you need to stay humble to endure the criticism if you want further your skills.

The Daywood

Well-known member
Check out the thread: http://www.b-roll.net/forum/showthread.php?t=21684 ... Latin Lens, you spoke up on that one too...

I first posted a similar question way back in 2005, and what follows is the response I still give to students today. It was written by our colleague, John "Lensmith" DuMontelle...
Thanks Lensmith...

November 3, 2005
Make sure they understand there are no guarantees in this business. No matter how much education they might have.

Do they want a family? Own a home? Weekends and holidays off? These are things many assume are automatic but practically unheard of for those just starting out in television who want to have a long career. Others who are not in television news will get them. You will not. It might be five or ten years before you can actually own a home, and then stay in that location long enough to enjoy it. Holidays off? You have to accept no matter how long you are in the business you will never get each and every holiday off.

Make sure they understand they can not expect to simply sit at home and mail out resumes and begin a career in television. It takes more aggressive tactics and drive. They should expect to move three or four times during their careers. Often hundreds or thousands of miles away from family and friends.

Make sure they understand how little money they will make at the start, maybe even for the first five or six years. Well below most other college grads in other fields of interest.

Make sure they understand their learning does not end on graduation day. It's just beginning and even with a diploma, they know very little of what it takes to make a career in television news. They will have some basic skills from their college time which will help them learn more but, in the scheme of things, their true learning experience begins the first day they walk into a television station.

Make sure they understand people skills are more important than knowing what buttons to push or what cute buzz words to use when writing a story or talking with others with more or less experience than they have. Television is a group effort when it comes time to put all their hard work on the air. No one can do television news alone. That includes VJs!

Make sure they understand the importance of deadlines. It doesn't matter how good their work is if you don't deliver a product by deadline. Anyone can do the perfect news story with all the time in the world. Reality does not allow all the time in the world. Those who keep their jobs are the ones who do not miss deadlines. Balancing the quality you want in a report with the time frame demands are what it's all about. Making a habit of missing deadlines equals failure and loss of job.

Make sure they understand television news is a business, not a social club or calling to save the world. Those positive things can happen during their time doing the job but it is not the top priority. Profit is.

Make sure they understand there are many, many jobs in television which can lead to fun, fullfilling lives covering news. It's not just about "being on tv". There is nothing wrong with them, on graduation day, wanting to be an anchor or reporter. However they should keep their options, and their minds, open to switching into other fields within television news which match up better to their needs and talents. What may have looked like a dream career sitting in a college classroom may change as they get more real life experience.

Make sure they understand that television is not fair. They may be judged on things which are totally out of their control. Race, sex, age, voice, all come into play when on-air jobs are looking to be filled. You have to adapt to the job. Not the other way around. Other jobs in television news are based more on ability which also offer, possibly, a faster pay and career advancement when going for that second job.

Being on-camera can be frustrating for some. It's much harder to move up in the business on-camera than it is "behind the scenes". Dealing with frustration in a postive way can lead to a better possibility of success. But still no guarantees.

Dealing with frustration in a negative way can lead to personal difficulties or a late-in-life change of career where they find themselves in competition for jobs against others who did not waste their time chasing after a dream which wasn't ever possible in the first place.

Make sure they understand how few good paying jobs there are in television news. There are many low paying jobs which don't offer a long term future. The trick is to look at that first job out of college as a form of graduate school. Stay in that first job no more than a year or two then focus their efforts on getting out and moving up. Being stuck in a first job, unable to get hired elsewhere or unable to move to where the jobs are, is an indication a career change may be a better option for them instead of spending even more time and life on an unachievable goal.

Make sure they understand there are good and bad attitudes, good and bad working conditions, no matter how big or small a town they find their first job. There is no perfect tv station or network anywhere in the world.

Make sure they understand having the best equipment is not a requirement to success. In fact, learning to do the job with less than perfect equipment, under less than perfect conditions, is the norm.

Make sure they understand it's all about hard work...forever. There is never a time when you can feel you've "made it". There is constant competition for jobs and keeping a job is never guaranteed.

Make sure they understand no matter how well they do their job, there will always be someone who thinks they did a bad job. You can not please everyone all the time. That goes both for viewers as well as supervisors and coworkers. They need to learn to be their own worst critic and to never, ever stop learning. Technology is constantly changing as well as style and substance of presentation. Learning to balance all these variables is called survival, which leads to success. But always, in the back of their mind, they need to remember...someone, somewhere, thinks they did a bad job or have no talent.

Working in television news is not easy but can offer an interesting and exciting life experience, both personally and financially, which is always one paycheck or contract away from failure.

I don't want to come across as negative. My words are an effort to point out many of the realities we all work with and how many students, if they'd known this when they were in school or younger, might have made different choices for themselves.

I still love my job and would not change a thing but for others, their choices might be different than mine.

I wish you and your students the best.


You have to love this job to really excell at it....you have to put in the work to get the results...you need to stay humble to endure the criticism if you want further your skills.
What you said is right. When i started i watched lots of stories and took in what other photogs do. I also got feedback on stories then applied it in the next shoot. Overall i think feedback is what has helped me out. Its not the only thing but to me i just needed to know what others thought of my shooting.


Well-known member

Eat when you can. Take a leak when you can. Anticipate everything. Expect nothing!

Most of all, take time to reflect and enjoy what you do!

Cheers! :)


Active member
I'd say Listen. Theres so many good photogs and reporters in everyshop. You can always take something from everyone of them and use them for your advantage to make your stuff look good.
Definately agree with Daywood; very few well paying jobs in media. I'm sure many people have witnessed the one that left to take a better job at a place such as a grocery store.

It's also ironic how many stations still allocate their budgets the way they do.


Well-known member
write it down

Keep a journal.

I wish I had. Knowing that the celebrity you just met is actually 6" shorter than you will stay with you a week, but may be a hoot to your kids... or even you when the Alzheimers sets in.

When given the opportunity to do something, take it. If not, make it. Some people's day is ruined when the fax machine goes down. Others wreck a $250,000 sat truck. Point is, who's gonna have a better story in a bar??

You could work in a cubicle.

Technology and $h1tty coworkers come and go. Don't dwell on either.

Pack your lunch and eat healthily.

Wear sunscreen.

There is no sex in the champagne room.

It's okay to switch jobs.

You da man for that liveshot / slapping that PKG together today. You are a hero to your family for being there for dinner each night. Make your choices accordingly.

Look up and live.

It's easier to fire miserable people.

Good, fast, and cheap. Pick only two. Okay, well, we know what you make, so pick either good or fast.
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Since I am graduating in May after a full four years in school I have spent alot of time reflecting on the opportunities I have had and how much I enjoy what I do.

I never thought of my work in this way, but a friend made the comment "jeez, your lucky to have worked McCain, Clinton and Obama, speeches all last year. I never thought about it like that, i just said yes when i was called for work and enjoyed every minute of it.

What i am getting at is, I couldnt see myself doing anything else, yes there are downsides with this business, but as far as im concerned, none of it matters. Bottom line..I love what i do.


Well-known member
Get a good, small digital camera

Keep in mind: Everything you shoot with the station's camera is owned by the station. Get a good, small camera that you can keep in a pocket to capture some images for yourself.


Active member
Don't fall into the TV or News trap, learn something else. Don't ever find yourself 10-15 yrs into a career saying, "it's all I know how to do." Station work and news can be fun and you may have a passion for it, but it is fleeting and ever changing. Don't hold on to a miserable job because there are no other jobs to be had.

Learn audio, graphics, lighting, learn the differences between news shooting and commercial or other types of production. Take classes, go down to the local IATSE and unload trucks for sports, theater, or concerts. Meet folks who work in all the areas of those type of productions and learn about their jobs.

Again, I understand you may have a passion for news shooting, but is that because you've never been exposed to a world where you are actually appreciated and compensated for you hard work, where you work normal hours and don't work with people who act like four year olds?


PRO user
Don't burn bridges.Years ago,when I was a news photog at a Dallas station, I had a disagreement with the news director and chief photog.I knew I was right,but listened to their side and was diplomatic.
Cut to years later. I got laid off in Chicago and heard about a job in Detroit.Called the news director there. Guess who.If I had made a big scene in Dallas,he would have hung up on me. Instead,he offered me the job.
More years later.I'm in LA doing the DNC for NBC. I meet the guy responsible for getting my feeds out of the convention center. Guess who. The chief photog from back in Dallas.Again, if I had read him the riot act back at the situation in Dallas,he was now in a position to screw me.Convention went off without a hitch.
It's a VERY small world.

zac love

Well-known member
(Well I may be stepping on my soap box but here goes...)

1. It took me three years to realize that I need to stop comparing greener grass. In my experience, everyone from DMA 210 to the $2,000/day rate freelancers complain about how horrible things are. There are valid things to be upset about, but an upbeat mindset in the worst of situations will provide better mental health. The last place I was really unhappy working at, started getting a lot better when I repeated to myself "When the station you work for is a joke, make sure to laugh."

2. Respect your mental health, and be able to turn off every now and then. Find a hobby that has nothing to do with TV. I learned to sew a couple years ago, I'm not good at it, but I've made a couple sand bags, cell phone holder and some other odds and ends. Stepping away from ENG will help you last longer in ENG.

3. Keep a journal or scrap book. (Like mentioned above.) I'm not prefect at keeping a journal. One year I starting writing down every VOSOT, live shot and package I worked on in a day by day calendar. I was amazed by how much I did in just a couple months. I have also saved every press pass that I can. I started hanging them on my closet door handle, I have so many now I have to hang them on two handles.

4. Be humble, but don't belittle what you do. I saw every presidential candidate last year. I met a guy who will probably change spinal cord injury treatments in the next 10 years. I've done a 180 in an air boat, flown upside down, and road along w/ cops as they hunt down fugitives. We have a really cool job, it is OK to let friends and family be envious of the amazing things we get to do. Just don't rub it in & become obnoxious.

5. Befriend as many people as you can that you can trust for good advice and critiques. Finding people who can tear apart your best package frame by frame, without making a comment about you as a person, are a real blessing. You have to be humble enough to realize that critiques are necessary and wise enough to recognize the people who critique to help and those who critique because they had a bad day.

6. Lastly and most importantly, be professional, but also be human. It is our job to swarm to the worst of humanity and take pictures of it. Recognize that this is your job. Putting pictures on TV of a crime scene or someone in court will be very hurtful to people connected to the story. You MUST remain objective while on the clock, but don't become so thick skinned that you lose touch with the world. Every time I have shoot something awful, I make sure to turn my feelings back on when I get off my shift and process the emotions of darkness.