How to Annoy a TV News Cameraman!

This blog piece appeared on the website of Paul Martin who is also @ukcameraman on Twitter and definitely worth a follow.   I thought it was so good (and valuable) I have put a toned down version here for you – yes, it is a toned down version!  Paul’s website is  As part of our training we spend some time exploring how important the cameraman is in telling a story and how they interact with reporters, and this piece gives a very clear cameraman perspective….

“It doesn't take much to send a TV News Cameraman into a seething mass of bubbling hatred. Do you want to see a man’s head go red and expand to the point that it looks like a taught boil of pestilence, ready to pop a gooey mess all over the pavement...? There are ways and means my friend... ways and means.

The following is a handy print out and keep aide memoir for anyone who may come across a news camera person. You may be a reporter, an interviewee, a PR type person or just a member of the general public.

Now before you go on, in case you are thinking what harm can you possibly do, please ensure that on no account do any of the things, or say any of the words that I am about to impart. I take my readers safety seriously. So unless you want to be shouted at and sprayed in biscuit crumbs, cheesy puff pieces or hot coffee, please do not do any of the following...

1. Ask "Is that thing heavy..?"

I will go for a soft one to start... This usually only gets a raised eyebrow from the cameraman involved, so is not too serious. However, it is a raised eyebrow that says, 'I've been stood outside this court for 6 hours... what do you think...?' No harm done, but this will make you feel like a dipstick.

2. Unauthorised picking up of a camera. (Reporters)

You just couldn't resist it could you. Normally this is done by reporters trying to be helpful, all the while knocking switches and absent mindedly altering settings as they swing the camera about. Watch closely as the veins in the cameraman's neck pulse and his eyes bulge. Put the camera down and walk away... preferably holding your hands up and saying 'Sorry.. Sorry.. Sorry.. won't do it again.. Cup of tea...?' This may just save your note writing ass.

3. Unauthorised picking up of camera. (PR Types and general public)

So you want to die in a horrible fashion at the hands of a raving lunatic, like you have just kidnapped his kids, slept with his wife and done doughnuts on his lawn... Do you..? Didn't think so. We carry lots of kit all of the time, we are used to it. We also know the value of our camera, you do not. You are an underpaid snot jockey of a PR who knows not what sensitivity means. Touch my camera again and I will kill you... To death... OK?

4. Don't offer to help carry the sound bag. (Reporters)

Notwithstanding the above, (1 and 2) there is scope for you non cameraman types to help a man out. Walking away saying 'let's film over there' and leaving the kit behind for me to carry along with the tripod, will earn you a grumbling, snarky cameraman for the rest of the day. It could possibly take weeks for this to subside. Tea and a cream cake might... just might, calm us down.

5. Don't offer to help carry the sound bag. (PR Types and general public)

I will alter the skin tone settings on the camera for the interview to make you look like you are just recovering from a bout of scurvy. I will cut out the important posters you have put up on the wall in the hope you will get a little extra advertising in the background, and will leave something foul smelling in a wall cavity of your corporate building.

6. Hold a press conference in front of a large window

This will irritate us camera types no end. No, trust me, it will. I'm going to have to get all of my lighting equipment out just to compete with the ambient daylight that is perfectly lighting the back of the speakers head. And then the sun will come out. And when the sun comes out, a cameraman will seek you out, and tell you in no uncertain terms, what is required to film the TV News... Light, on the speakers face, not on the back of his head. (See also, holding a press conference in a basement. )

7. Offering rubbish refreshments at a press conference

Tea, coffee, sandwiches and cake... Need I say more? I do not eat alfalfa sprout salads, duck morsels in a raspberry jus, or anything nestling on a bed of steamed greens with a chick pea dip. Meat... preferably bacon or sausages between two bits of bread... brown sauce. If you want to be remembered by the press as that place that halted global warming then serve proper food, or we will remember you as the place to avoid.

8. Tell me my job can be done by someone with an iPhone

We toil behind hot glass to give the viewer the best possible viewing experience when being informed of death, destruction, job losses and bad politics. We do not like out of focus, wobble shots that make the viewer feel sick. Did I say that iPhones, when waved around in front of a news cameraman and blocking his shot, can reach a speed of around 60 miles per hour at a vector of 25 degrees up from horizon level, thus travelling a total of 125.7 yards...? That pigeon will never fly the same way again I can tell you.

9. Act like a prat behind my reporter during a live shot

This is quite possibly the most irritating thing that a member of the public can do. Shouting 'Hello Mum..!' at the camera with a slack jawed, unwashed face with missing teeth and skanky hair, can result in you to being led around the back of the satellite truck, and filled in with a large heavy implement of the cameraman's choice.

10. Ignore me when i try to vox-pop you

Well I didn't want to talk to you anyway you ignorant piece of blubber. 10 to 20 seconds of your precious time is all we ask of you, maybe a little more. So unless you are a heart surgeon having been called into work for a transplant operation then at the very least, politely decline first, then walk away. Ignoring me will result in me being highly critical of your wobbly arse, your bad taste in clothing, and may result in something hitting the back of your head as you leave... A coke can for example.

The above is by no means a comprehensive list of actions that can turn a mild mannered cameraman into a frothing at the mouth, gabbling loon with a thirst for blood. Oh no. It's not just the obvious PR misdemeanours, reporter cock ups and the normal actions of the general public that gets up our collective noses. The slightest mis-spoken word, inappropriate action or just the lack of a decent nights sleep can tip a cameraman over the edge into a sweary rage, and a grump that can last a whole year. So please approach us with caution... For a punch in the face can often offend.”



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