Getting used to being on the other side of the camera?
Well, when it came time for my first on-camera job, in St. Joseph , Missouri, I had to shoot the stories also. And I was comfortable with cameras. None of the rest of the reporters had ever operated a camera. In 1982, one-man operations are more common. There was an eight-person news staff, and we'd go out on teams and shoot for each other, or we'd shoot our interviews ourselves. I'd set up a lightstand at my height, hit the record button on the tripod. Record myself. I was comfortable with it because of photography, I knew how to tell a story visually.
But they don't make you do that at CNN, do they?
Now, when I go out [on assignments], I have a still and a little DV camera-a Sony PD170, but soon I'll have Sony HVR-A1U , which is really high-def. I'm always augmenting the stuff I do for CNN with my own stuff.
I recently did a documentary on the Discovery space-shuttle, very intensive [Terminal Count: What It Takes to Make the Space Shuttle Fly, 2001]. It would have been a budget-buster if we'd had a crew, but there I was, crawling around inside, and I ended up shooting about 75% of that documentary. Just by virtue of the logistics of going down to the Cape, there were some occasions where we would hire a crew, but if I could handle it on my own, it would save a lot of time and money.
What kind of equipment do you use?
Well, for the documentary, I went to CNN and got equipment from them. You go into this warehouse in Atlanta and it's like Indiana Jones-gear everywhere…I used a Sony camcorder DSR-300, and Canon YH18x6HSD lens.
What about on your own time?
A Nikon D100 and 16-35mm zoom and the 80-200mm. I've always been a Nikon guy, and when I was buying the Nikon gear I have now, all the guys at CNN were Nikon guys so I thought, great, I'll be able to use some of their equipment with my setup. But no sooner than I bought the D100, they switched over to Canon. I've thought about making the switch too…but it's sort of like changing religions, I feel kind of weird about it.