The Story of Camera 7
I came across a story recently that was originally written in 2013 by Ed Fox, a creative, talented friend and former colleague of mine who had started his own production company called Media Boomtown.
Ed and I were both photojournalists with WHTM-TV abc27 in Harrisburg, PA in the late 90's and early 2000's. He wrote the following in response to a choice I made when I was assigning cameras to the station's skilled photography staff.
Ed states, "When I was at abc27, my chief photographer and mentor Doug Legore deliberately took the worst camera in the fleet; Camera 7. All of the cameras got heavy, hard use, but this one in particular should've been scrapped long ago. It was a good 11 years old at the time, with thousands of hours of use. It braved the wind, rain, snow, and heat. It was taken in and out of repair, patched together, and sent out for more. The station had replaced other cameras in the fleet with newer ones; newer ones with better electronics and optics. They took much better images, but against all odds, Camera 7 was still around."
Doug says, 'there was a missing piece on the lens itself that left a hole in it. The hole was covered in black electrical tape. The back focus needed adjusted on a daily basis. Viewfinder image couldn't be sharp. That's why I always shot those out of focus images and left them in the news package. I said it was a 'style'. LOL.'
"Doug took this camera out in the field every day to prove a point to all of the other photographers: that you could do great work and tell great stories with anything that was put in your hands. The creativity is in your head. To further prove his point, Doug went on to win 20 Emmy awards and become the National Press Photographer Association's Photographer of the Year - all with that dilapidated, fuzzy camera."
"I learned so much by watching Doug make beautiful, heartfelt, emotional, hilarious, inspiring and entertaining stories with that tattered old camera. For one, I learned that there was so much more to a story (an assembled video piece with a beginning, middle, and end) than what the eye sees. The ears play a big role too. I started paying closer attention to my interviews, and what people were saying. I worked harder to gather sound that supported my message, and made the viewer relate to the subject. I also learned to “make due” with what I have available; to improvise and adapt to a change in location, weather, content, assignment, or technical challenge to still produce solid, compelling work.
Late last year, I bought a brand new camera. It’s a very highly rated camera with a lot of bells and whistles. It takes an amazing image and I’m really happy with it, but the story of Doug and Camera 7 always humbles me and reminds me of what it’s all about." - Ed Fox
These days I have my own video storytelling business and access to many cameras, mics, lights and other tools of the trade. But stumbling across this post written by Ed is a timely reminder as I find myself frequently visiting photography/videography websites looking to upgrade my gear.
The newest cameras or the latest lenses may help produce a story, but they don't reveal it. As storytellers, that's something that we should always keep in mind.