2010 School of Authentic Journalism: Cameras for the Shy!

At the 2010 Narco News School of Authentic Journalism, my advisor Joshua Bregman gave me very important advice when holding a camera: the world is your playground. I had been shy about getting into peoples' faces while shooting b-roll for the School's inauguration event. I imagine this is typical of many people first using a camcorder. But I'm particularly shy, so it surprised me how easy it was to overcome this fear...

(Publisher-added photo of Seb shooting video. Photo: DR 2010 Jill Freidberg.)

I've thought long and hard about this over the years, this particular shyness of mine. I've looked at my upbringing, my schooling experience, even the role the planet Saturn plays in my natal chart (conjunct Sun in Sagitarrius in the 3rd house, for the so-inclined.) I've managed to deduce the mechanics of my shyness: I don't function well without a protocol. In other words, I'm terrible in situations where spontaneity plays a huge factor in interaction.

But quite suddenly, I was given a protocol where I could get right up to people and look weird and everything was OK so long as I had a camera. I became a member of a special club that has its own protocol. Everyone has seen reaction shots from stand-up specials and speeches, but how many people really know what it's like to have a camera a meter from their face for 20 straight seconds? Sweet schadenfreude, I know how it feels to not know what to do!

Over time (two weeks), camera in hand, I became more comfortable getting close-ups of faces. It was my job to do so, and to do that job effectively I did have to treat the world as my playground. What's more, after these experiences I've begun to pretend that my eyes are cameras so that no matter the situation I can still feel somewhat at ease, so long as I adopt this protocol.

It's a shame, how many shots I've missed just walking to the gas-station.

The point of all this is to not let your introversion and insecurities get the better of you. I'm finding this all to be a strange craft; at first, it seemed to be within the exclusive mandate of extroverts. Then I found that someone like me – and maybe you – has an equal place within journalism. And of the authentic variety, it attracts all types.


About Sebastian Kolendo

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About Sebastian Kolendo