Hi. My name is Mark E. Johnson and I … I am a Gear Geek.
It pains me to say that in public at times because, really, what I care about is telling stories about my community and my Constitutional responsibility to commit acts of journalism. I take that very, very seriously.
By day, I am a teacher – the Photojournalism Lecturer for the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Prior to coming here in 2005, I did my grad work at Syracuse University (where I also did my undergrad work – a twice squeezed orange, you might say) and before that I did time as a freelancer, staff photographer and director of photography at too many wire services, newspapers and magazines to really want to admit to.
And while I will always say the story comes first – because, let’s face it,Â it does – I understand that the tools we use are integral to our storytelling. And out storytelling is changing. Two decades ago, the choices you made were Canon or Nikon (with a few making arguments for Olympus, Pentax and Minolta and the real artsy-fartsy ones screaming it had to be a Leica or it wasn’t worth anything). (Okay, I may have been one of those, but mostly because I could barely afford my M4-P and wanted them to produce more so the prices would drop.)
But now … now, when we glance down at the tools we can use to tell stories, it’s just an amazing time, isn’t it? For those of us with a still photo background, we carried a couple of bodies, an assortment of lenses and a couple of flashes. We had a few little widgets that we clung to, but that was it – we froze time with glass and brass devices.
Even our broadcast brethren were limited to one camera and one lens most of the time because that’s what their station issued them.
Just a quick glance around my office here and I see snippets of the new tools of our trade. I have four different audio recorders – devices that let me bring my subjects voice straight to my audience, no reporter translations involved. Within my sight I see seven devices that will record video – and there are more in that cabinet over there. And the number of widgets, microphones, adapters and little chunks of software that are out there … it’s a fine time to be a geek is all I’m saying.
So that’s what I’ll be doing here – taking a look at some of the little tools that make our lives easier. I play with a lot of these things in an effort to keep abreast of what’s happening in the industry and because I need to find the tools that will let me teach the next generation of storytellers. (I work for a state university – we have no budget, so whatever funds I can cobble together I need to spend very, very wisely.)
What can you do to help? Point me to the things you’re using. I can’t find them all on my own, that’s for sure. But if there’s a little thing that makes your life easier, that helps you commit acts of journalism better – share it. Leave me a comment, send me an email, give me a call.
Let the geekiness begin …