Meet the men behind the news cameras
For several decades these men have been bringing you news, in living colour, on television, right into your living room but yet, you do not hear them, you do not see their faces. To you, they do not exist, you only feel their impact; you only see the pretty and handsome faces of the reporters and the news anchor people, unaware that behind the news are camera men who carry the heavy tripods, operate the slick cameras and get into the best positions to take the action photographs that keep you cemented to your seats, your eyes and ears fastened to your television sets. They are the cameramen.
"Without these skilled camera people we would have no images. We would be stuck in an audio and print universe. It is the skills of the camera people that allow the moving image to come into the home and it is these images that make television," said Dr. Christiana Abraham in an interview with the Sun by email last week. "Their work is tremendously important and central to television. The story that television does not tell is that of its own visual making, made possible by the skills and dedication of its behind-the-scenes technical persons. This secret that viewers do not see and take for granted needs to be laid bare for all to see".
These men have names like Albert Toussaint, Ashton Shillingford and Anthony Richards from the Government Information Service (GIS); Frederick Francis, Franklin Peters, Ishmael Lewis and Davis George from MARPIN TV; Nigel Hypolite from CBN4; and Herry Royer, the pioneer of television news in Dominica.
Why are we doing this? Oh, we just thought we would introduce them to you so that you know who's behind your local news footage.
Dr. Abraham, who is now a professor at the Department of Communications Studies at Concordia University in Canada and who worked with a number of cameramen when she was a news anchor, news reporter and talk show host at MARPIN News two decades ago, says camera persons make television news.
"The work of the camera person in capturing images represents the very embodiment of the idea of television because it is the moving image that defines the medium. So I would say camera persons are not just important, but integral to Television news," Dr. Abraham says.
She added: "A good news camera person requires of course the technical competences to capture creatively framed, well-lit images with crisp ambient-free sound. Like sports, he/she is the ultimate team player, sharp, intelligent and aware of the content and complexity of the subject being covered in order to frame it visually. As an integral part of the story, he/she understands the reporter's perspective and serves as the eye of the team by capturing images that carry the story and reflect its tone. While the reporter is collecting vital information from sources, it is the camera person who surveys the field and captures the precious moments that the reporter does not and is incapable of seeing.
"This person is a subtle member of the team always listening and observing, he/she becomes an extension of the camera lens, a silent witness. The world of news is one where confidences are established, off-the record revelations made, scenes play out and this person bears sharp witness to it all. While the TV reporter's on-air presence is the face that viewers know and trust, it is the camera person who is the silent, wise social observer. He/she has seen and heard it all.
"This person has to be tactful in navigating all social classes, locations, subjects, and themes of their society. For example he/she may be filming interviews with city vagrants in the morning followed by a visiting head of state where protocols have to be employed. And yes the person needs an incredible amount of patience and commitment".