David Berman is a multimedia photojournalist who works as a photographer at Northcliffe’s Surrey Mirror. I asked him some questions about his role which I thought I would post here. But first, a showreel of his work…
“I started making Soundslides at the Croydon Advertiser at the back end of ’06, and kept presenting both on- and off-diary assignments as Soundslides and, later, video. There is still some interest locally at the paper for me to do multimedia stuff but only if it doesn’t ‘get in the way of proper work’.
“What is a multimedia photojournalist? A photographer who is unafraid of learning new skills and technologies. A photographer who is passionate about telling stories, shooting compelling images be it still or video. I look at it as an opportunity to get back to being a story teller not just a space filler for the print edition. I shoot, I edit and I publish.
“Why are photographers good VJ’s? The best of us can see a frame and fill it with vibrancy, compose it well and create the story visually. The words, the interview? It’s not so hard. All my life as a stills shooter I’ve basically interviewed people on every assignment. I now just need to structure more and record peoples answers. Of course I still have a lot to learn, but I think that the snappers who are either refusing to learn new skills or allowing themselves to be sidelined to remain one trick ponies, just shooting stills, are failing to plan for the future. My multimedia productions can play across the web, TV or iPhone, they will look good on iPad. I shoot HD on a proper video camera with pro sound capture and can broadcast live video from the scene and do a piece to camera.
“As a multimedia photojournalist I shoot stills or video or both. I am a good communicator. I can empathise with the man who cleans the drains and I can walk tall before the Queen. In short, the MM PJ could be one of the most powerful tools in the newspaper’s arsenal and should be encouraged to take part in the development of the organisation.
“Reporters and Flip cams are great for breaking news but I believe to fully engage readers you need to have a gold standard for those other stories. Shot well, lit well and presented as well as TV does.
“It used to be the case that the audience would watch badly made web video but I no longer think this is the case. The more local news websites deliver poor audio and video the less the advertiser will wish to be involved. Make the downtime of the phojo work for the ad dept. It’s exactly what I am planning at the moment.
“I am able to train others and would be happy to do that but – and this is the big but – there needs to be a desire to move to the web. My old Chief Ian Carter has seen the way forward with his move to the Kent Messenger. Their web video is pretty good. I’m not sure on their stats but I know the site is compelling.
“Look at the Argus in Brighton. Jo Wadsworth, an old colleague of mine from the Ad, is doing great stuff with their site but the video content is poor considering the quality of some of their staff photographers.
“It isn’t easy to find this new place as a MM photojournalist after all, who the hell are we?”