Backpack Journalist: “Understand the Glass”

WASHINGTON, DC, 24 March 2012 — I tell participants of my Backpack Journalism Workshops that they have to understand their cameras before they can make those cameras do on tape or on a digital platform what the students “see” in their mind’s eye. Part of this is understanding how the glass works. Yes, the glass in the lens of the camera, something that most still photojournalists learn about very early in their careers.

Here’s a brief clip of a presentation I did during our March 8-11 Backpack Journalism Workshop regarding the effect that wide angle, as opposed to telephoto lenses, have on people or objects seen in a line. The presentation is all about using these effects as a compositional tool. Shot by Monica Echeverria during the March workshop, you can see it on YouTube HERE.

My workshops are intensive, four-day immersions in the craft of “backpack journalism” defined as character-driven television/web productions with hand-held digital cameras by a single practitioner. The workshops cover the gamut of the visual storytelling process from the genesis and shaping of story ideas, to shooting powerful images that drive the story, to the capture and use of sound, to script writing, narration, and editing. The workshops are appropriate for beginners with some experience as well as existing practitioners who desire to sharpen their skills or acquire new ones. We welcome photojournalists, print and video journalists, aspiring documentary filmmakers and independent storytellers.

I teach the full range of skills required for effective visual storytelling—from Controlling Idea and Dramatic Arc to pitching, shooting, producing, scriptwriting, narrating and editing the final product. I bring in an Internet marketing expert so participants can learn to market their work, using the latest and most effective social media tools.

My assistants are some of the best and brightest of the field, and they come to each event with the latest information about the field, with a burning desire teach and with a positive attitude.

The era of the backpack video journalist has arrived. It’s revolutionizing the global exchange of information and ideas — and changing the way we live. I bring over 30 years of field experience to teach how to produce powerful TV and web productions. Information is power, and I aim to help you harness that power to document and to change the world.

So don’t wait to “Engage. Embrace. Empower.” Join us for the next workshop in Washington, DC, on 17-20 May 2012.

– Bill Gentile